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Westlake celebrates fortitude, tenacity and heart at Class of 2023’s graduation

Westlake High School’s Class of 2023 had sunny skies this morning as it celebrated graduation. The caps and gowns of the students gleamed, turning the infield of Regency Furniture Stadium into a sea of teal, studded with the white of their stoles and the orange worn by the class’s Top 10.

Jocelyn Burrell, the school’s Student Government Association (SGA) president, urged the graduates to go out into the world and find success – however they define it. “Life doesn’t stop for anyone. You will face obstacles, you will fall on hard times, but if you don’t believe in yourself, then nobody will,” she said. “Opportunity isn’t something you wait for, it’s something you make happen.”

Westlake Principal Diane Roberts reminded parents and guardians, community members and leaders that the Class of 2023 should not be defined by anything less than their accomplishments and perseverance. “I’m compelled to share with you a few things I’ve learned about this amazing group of students. This group has skillfully bore the weight that our community has placed on them as being Westlake High School students,” Roberts said. “It has not always been fair, reasonable or earned. However, they have victoriously walked through the fire of press releases and public opinion to make it to this point.”

The graduates will one day be parents and guardians, community members and leaders, Roberts said. “They are the real ones you will need in your corner one day,” she said. To the graduates, she said, “I need you to know in spite of the losses you have suffered during these four years, you have heart.”

Roberts said some of the most important lessons the graduates have learned are those of displaying fortitude, tenacity and grace. “You are empowered to enter large spaces and when you enter those spaces, understand that you add value,” she said. “And when you depart, it will be deeply felt. Remember to handle your business before your business handles you. And know you will always have a community of educators who love and support you.”

Nina Dizon was named valedictorian of Westlake’s Class of 2023, with Jolie Prasad as salutatorian. Dizon did not share her plans for the next steps after high school. Prasad will attend James Madison University in the fall and plans to major in performing arts with a focus in music.

Westlake seniors brought in more than $12.5 million in scholarship offers this year. The school’s ceremony was the fifth of seven Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) graduations. La Plata High School is set to graduate at 1 p.m., June 1, with Thomas Stone High School closing out graduations 9 a.m., Friday, June 2. To find out more about CCPS graduations, visit

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 27,598 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

CCPS provides nondiscriminatory equal access to school facilities in accordance with its Use of Facilities rules to designated youth groups (including, but not limited to, the Boy Scouts).