Society

‘You’re a product of this community’

RHS graduates learn about being ‘special’
By MIKE BROWN
Reporter Editor
Reporter Photos by Cliff Dungan and Mike Brown

Jason Brow n, 1993 R HS graduate, “called the roll” of Rockdale people who inf luenced his life Friday as he delivered the commencement speech to 127 members of the Class of 2011 at Tiger Field.

He reeled off a list of at least two dozen teachers, coaches and community members.

“It took me about 20 seconds to come up with that list,” Brown said.

The internationally-known musician was at his church— First Baptist of Upper Marlboro, Ma r yla nd— when he received the call inviting him to speak at commencement.

A congregat ion member heard Brown on the phone and asked him what it was about.

“I told him and he looks at me and goes ‘well, what makes you so special?’” Brown said, drawing a big laugh from the crowd.

‘ DISTANT SECOND’— That turned into the theme of Brown speech.


Speaker Jason Brown asked seniors to give parents/guardians a hand. The response was warm and enthusiastic. Speaker Jason Brown asked seniors to give parents/guardians a hand. The response was warm and enthusiastic. “ What makes you so special?” Brown challenged the grads. “It’s because you’re a product of this community, of people who care about you.”

The speaker recalled his own upbringing in Rockdale. “I had parents who put their kids first and everything else a distant second,” he said.

Parents John and Judy Brown were present on Friday.

The speaker praised his teachers and coaches as the people who made a difference in his life.

“You’re continually re-evaluating your goals,” he said. “A f ter 20 years you’ll find celebrities and athletes fade (in influence).”

GRADUATES—School board president Lee Jenkins handed out diplomas, assisted by RHS Principal Joey Geletka, who presented the class for graduation and also recognized honor students.


Left, a little wardrobe malfunction didn’t stop Rosie Valdez Friday. Shoes wouldn’t cooperate so she picked them up and picked up her diploma, much to the delight of the crowd of 2,000. Above. Class of 2011 included two sets of twins, Braden and Britta Byrd, Julie and Justin Hromcik. Left, a little wardrobe malfunction didn’t stop Rosie Valdez Friday. Shoes wouldn’t cooperate so she picked them up and picked up her diploma, much to the delight of the crowd of 2,000. Above. Class of 2011 included two sets of twins, Braden and Britta Byrd, Julie and Justin Hromcik. Supt. Dr. Howell Wright accepted.

Valedictorian Clayton Merka and salutatorian Kelsey Galbreath gave speeches. (See pages 3C.)

Others on the program were Clayton Pelzel, class treasurer; Julie Hromcik, class secretary; Jason Lewis, class president; and Michael Fischer, class vicepresident.

The precessional and recessional were performed by the Big Blue Band, under the direction of Adrian Acevedo.

‘JESUS, BBQ’—Brown had the best line of the night.

In addition to his musical career, Brown pointed to his duties at Upper Marlboro First Baptist and noted he also owns JB’s Barbecue.

“Everybody needs Jesus and boy does Maryland need good barbecue!” Brown said.



They did it! Michael Fischer and J. J. Lewis react ‘diploma’-tically to their graduations. They did it! Michael Fischer and J. J. Lewis react ‘diploma’-tically to their graduations.

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