When Quince Orchard Principal Carole Working retired earlier this year and left the area to join her husband at his new job in Italy, she promised the graduating class of 2018 that she would return for their graduation.
On May 30, she made good on her promise, presiding over the graduation ceremony at DAR Constitutional Hall for the final time since she began her tenure at QO in the 2006-07 school year.
Working received a warm ovation from the students and family members in attendance when she opened the ceremony with the typical housekeeping announcements about turning cell phones off, etc. Her appearance did not come as a surprise since students had seen her at the graduation rehearsal the previous day.
Working began her remarks by describing her favorite traditions at Quince Orchard, especially those pertaining to the Red Army of student fans. That led her to note the military theme of the ceremony, including the presence of the head football coach of the U.S. Naval Academy, Ken Niumatalolo, who was the guest speaker.
“I myself grew up on the campus of the U.S. Military Academy where my father worked as a coach and athletic director for 29 years,” Working said. Then, teasing Niumatalolo, she added, “So I know you’re going to understand that I’m compelled to do this: ‘Go Army! Beat Navy!’”
“Armies are united by their mission,” she said in continuing the military theme. “It has been the mission of everyone in this room to work together to provide you … with the most outstanding education that we can to prepare you for your next steps in life.”
Working asked the graduating class’ 21 valedictorians to stand and be recognized, as well as students who had received various other academic, community service and athletic awards. She also recognized the 382 members of the class who had taken at least one Advanced Placement college-level course—some 84 percent of the graduates.
Adding a somber note, Working recognized two members of the class—Austin Cohen and Tyler Terry—who died, and she recounted their contributions to the school. “(They) will always be important and valued members of your class and of the Cougar community,” Working said, as their parents, seated near the stage, were presented with honorary diplomas.
“Look around you,” Working told the graduates. “Your parents and your grandparents, your teachers and staff, and the Quince Orchard community are here today because they love you. They are proud of what you have accomplished.”
In her final ceremonial duty, Working recommended the candidates for the conferring of diplomas by Montgomery County School Board member Rebecca Smondrowski, herself the parent of a graduating QO senior.
“Wherever you go from this day forward,” Working closed, “our hopes for your continued success go with you. And wherever I go from this day forward, I will think of you. And on Friday nights I will hear it—The Red Army. The Red Army. The Red Army of Quince Orchard High School,” she said, to another ovation.