Our promising future

Published 1:06 am Wednesday, July 19, 2017

By Kathy Reagan Young

It’s that time of year again — graduation for both high schools and colleges — and social media is filled with posts about what the grads are planning to do with their lives.

While the news media would have us cowering in fear of what the future may hold, I’m here to tell you the future is bright, because there’s a whole new crop of energy-filled, idealistic, smart, motivated, kindhearted kids from right here in Western Branch that just may save the world — or will at least work hard to make it better.

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Many of us moved to Western Branch for the schools. Their reputation is well known throughout Hampton Roads. Western Branch High School has consistently produced well-rounded, community-minded, smart, talented students that do wonderful things in this world.

Great news: That has not changed!

There are graduating seniors like Emily Parsons, who will be attending Virginia Tech in the fall for a career in biomedical or biological systems engineering; Margaret Ennen, heading to Butler University with a $20,000 scholarship in hand to study for a career in ballet; and Catherine Maynigo, accepted into multiple top colleges, attending Virginia Commonwealth University for a career in medicine.

Not only do we have kids graduating this year who are doing amazing things, but if the past can be a predictor, we can rest assured that the world is in good hands, and our little borough will continue to be well-cared for.

I posted a question on the Western Branch Coming Together Facebook page, asking about notable alumni from Western Branch High School. I was flooded with suggestions.

One of the most interesting things I learned was that more than 20 percent of WBHS staffers are alumni who chose to return home to serve their community and school. That speaks volumes for both our people and our community.

I don’t have enough column space to list all of the names sent to me, but here is a sampling of that long list of notable alumni:

Tyler Cain, music producer/songwriter and owner of his own music production company in Nashville; D.J. Rhetorik (a.k.a. Chase Marchetti), D.J. for rapper Logic; Shyrone Stith, played for the Jacksonville Jaguars; Patrice Covington, singer/actress in “The Color Purple” on Broadway (among other things); Ace Callwood, successful entrepreneur; New York Times bestselling author Bruce T. Jones; Matt Ward, cinematic director for Bungie Inc., the company that brought us the video games Halo and Destiny; along with Grammy winners, pediatric brain surgeons, CEOs, Hollywood producers and a partridge in a pear tree!

That’s a pretty impressive group, and they all have a common denominator: Western Branch.

This place we call home simultaneously grooms future leaders and welcomes back its former students wanting to come home and serve our community. Being from here means being proud of where you came from and being supported in where you want to go.

Don’t buy the “sky is falling” narrative being perpetuated in the media. Our future — that of our local community and of the world at large — is in great hands with our graduates.

There is much to be done, but there is great focused energy to do it, much of which comes from right here in Western Branch.

We’re Western Branch. We’re proud, and we should be.

Kathy Reagan Young has lived in Western Branch for 17 years. She owns PR Plus, a marketing company specializing in writing services, social media management and digital advertising for small businesses. Email her at prplusllc@gmail.com.