By Andrea Gaines
Former United States Secretary of State Madeline Albright made a surprise appearance at the Woodgrove High School Senior Awards Ceremony on June 1, 2012.
Secretary Albright was exceptionally well-received at the gathering. But, the “back story” of how she came to speak at Woodgrove that day was the most interesting part of her visit.
According to Maura Walsh-Copeland – the parent of a senior and actively involved at the school – it all started with the perhaps fanciful dream that the former Secretary of State – in high demand all over the world – might consider being the commencement speaker at Woodgrove’s June graduation ceremony. Maura had met Secretary Albright briefly last May after the premier of “The Last Hardware Store” film in Purcellville, and talked to her about how she had visited Hillsboro Elementary School in 2000 when Maura’s son was a student there. “I reminded her of her visit to Hillsboro Elementary School in 2000 when my son was in first grade,” said Maura. “She said she always remembers that visit for one of her favorite questions (whether she had to stand upside down on her head when she traveled to Australia),” continued Maura.
Some of the students Secretary Albright had spoken to at Hillsboro Elementary School that day, including Maura’s son, were now members of Woodgrove’s 2012 senior class, giving her and the students the opportunity to share another passage of life together.
Because of Secretary Albright’s unpredictable schedule, her planned appearance at the ceremony was kept secret until she came on stage waving to some of the very same students she had addressed some twelve years earlier.
“Secretary Albright was a hit and made a fabulous speech,” said Maura. “While trying to do something inspirational for the Woodgrove students and parents, for me it’s been a tremendous opportunity to learn that someone I’ve admired is actually as great as she appears. I’m going to hang on to that for a long while.”