Boys Home of Virginia hosted their graduation ceremony coupled with senior awards on April 29, 2020 in the All Saints’ Chapel at Boys Home. The 2020 graduates were Christian Bass, Carlos Brown, Khean Mikkelson, Andrew Roland, Phillip Scott, and John Smith. Phillip Scott and John Smith were not present for the graduation ceremony but were recognized.
During their time at Boys Home, each of the graduates took advantage of many of the activities Boys Home offers. All showed dedication to their community by serving in the Boys Home Key Club, with Carlos Brown serving as the president. Christian, Carlos, Khean, and John took on additional leadership roles as Boys Home Ambassadors. Carlos was also captain of the Hilltoppers basketball team this past year alongside his teammate Christian, and John Smith participated during the 2018-2019 season. Khean and Andrew enjoyed sports as well; Khean took part in the Martial Arts Club, and Andrew played on the Boys Home soccer team. Phillip was part of the Alleghany Highlands Regional Book Club.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the graduation itself could only accommodate up to 10 individuals. During the ceremony, staff members and underclassmen socially distanced themselves across the soccer and adjoining fields. When the graduates filed out of the chapel, they were surprised by cheers, cowbells, and words of encouragement from an enthusiastic group of supporters!
Graduation began with the seniors, Executive Director Mr. Donnie E. Wheatley, and Boys Home School Director Mrs. Teresa Johnson entering during the processional. The Boys Home Honor Code and Pledge of Allegiance were recited followed by the invocation. Mr. Robert Trice, Boys Home alumnus and Director of Support Services, read a prayer written by Megan Dern, Youth Missioner for the Diocese of Southern Virginia. Robert Trice then welcomed everyone.
The senior awards ceremony followed. This gives Boys Home the chance to recognize all the accomplishments of the students over the past year. Accomplishments from both on and off campus are highlighted with awards ranging from school performance to community service. Many named awards and scholarships reward the students for the hard work they put forth while at Boys Home.
The awards began with the “Love Gift” from the Episcopal Church Women of Southern Virginia and the Women of St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church. A gift was given to each senior.
A Boys Home scholarship was established in 2016 by Stephen and Donna Vaughn and Anne Dean to help support Boys Home students each year who decide to make Dabney S. Lancaster Community College their school of choice. The recipients of this scholarship were Khean Mikkelson and Andrew Roland.
The Leadership-in-Action Award was presented to the senior who maintained excellent leadership skills during the two-day senior challenge. Christian Bass was the recipient of that award.
The 1st Lt. Joshua Charles Hurley Memorial Award is awarded to the student who leaves a great impact. On November 1, 2003, Hurley lost his life while serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Hurley loved his family, life, friends, and serving his country. The recipient of this award was Christian Bass.
The Joseph D. and Hilda C. Dent Memorial Award is given in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Dent who were longtime supporters of Boys Home and who had a keen interest in education. Andrew Roland won this award.
The Bill and Lang Wilson Scholarship Award was established to recognize the importance of a “helping hand” in critical junctions of one’s life. It also helps promote further education for a graduating senior while supporting Dabney S. Lancaster Community College’s mission. The award and scholarship was presented to senior Khean Mikkelson.
The Matthew Foster Honorary Scholarship is given in honor of alumnus Matt Foster. He overcame many obstacles during his time as a student and grew from a rebellious teen to a self-confident young man who turned two years of high school into one to graduate on time. The winner of this award and scholarship was Christian Bass.
The Paul Siple Memorial Scholarship is given in honor of Paul Siple, past coach and Interim Director at Boys Home. This award was presented to Andrew Roland.
The Barry D. Mays Memorial Award is presented to a senior who is living in the experiential living apartment and shows the desire and ability to learn and perform skills of self-sufficiency. The recipient of this award was Andrew Roland.
The Sam Cunningham Award is given to a Boys Home student participating in athletics with a high level of dedication and a positive attitude. The winner of this award was Christian Bass.
The Madeline S. Mumford Memorial Scholarship is provided through St. John’s Episcopal Church in Chester, VA. The scholarship is to assist one or more young men who are pursuing higher education. The winners of this scholarship were Khean Mikkelson and Andrew Roland.
The Berlin and Frances Lineberry Scholarship provides funding for a graduating senior who is pursuing higher education at a vocational or community college. The scholarship was awarded to Andrew Roland.
The final award is among the highest honors for a Boys Home student. The Michael Folland Award is given to a senior and voted on by their peers. This award winner shows his peers that he took advantage of his time at Boys Home by working to reach his full potential. The Michael Folland award was presented to senior Carlos Brown.
Each graduate addressed the audience, expressed their appreciation for Boys Home, and talked about their plans for the future. Carlos will begin working a summer job remodeling homes, then hopes to find a job in construction work. Christian wants to join the military but has not completely decided what branch. Khean will attend Dabney S. Lancaster Community College and study cyber security. Andrew will attend Dabney S. Lancaster Community College for general studies, then transfer to Virginia Tech and study meteorology. Phillip wants to pursue a pipefitting apprenticeship in his hometown. After graduation, John wants to work and save money for college.
Mr. David Harrison was the guest speaker. He is originally from Buena Vista, VA, and was a resident at Boys Home from 1987 until his graduation from Alleghany High School in 1991. He attended East Tennessee State University and graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice. He later jointed the United States Army as a Combat Medic and now works as a Certified Peer Counselor at the Mountain Home Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Tennessee where he helps veterans cope with mental health disorders. David spoke about the importance of personal responsibility and understanding that we cannot control everything that happens in life, but we can control how we respond.
Director of the Boys Home School Mrs. Teresa Johnson and Boys Home Executive Director Mr. Donnie Wheatley then presented diplomas.
Congratulations to the seniors, and thank you to everyone who continues to make success a possibility for these students. Boys Home of Virginia is proud of the accomplishments of all of the students, especially the graduating seniors, and wish them well in their future endeavors!
Left to right: Carlos Brown, Christian Bass, Andrew Roland, Executive Director Donnie Wheatley, and Khean Mikkelson
Senior Phillip Scott
Senior John Smith