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May 28, 2013

Derek McGinty to speak at Blair graduation

by Emma Yeager, Online News Editor
WUSA9 News Anchor Derek McGinty will speak at Blair's Class of 2013 graduation ceremony at Constitution Hall on June 3, according to Blair Principal Renay Johnson's May 16 tweet. McGinty will serve as the keynote speaker for the graduating class of 2013.

McGinty currently serves as an anchor on weekday and weeknight news and has been working in broadcast journalism for over 20 years. Prior to joining WUSA9's news team, he was an anchor on ABC NEWS' World News Now, a correspondent for HBO's "Real Sports" and the host of "Straight Talk with Derek McGinty" on PBS. A native of Washington D.C., McGinty attended Woodrow Wilson High School and graduated from American University, according to his biography on WUSA9's website.

McGinty was invited to be this year's speaker at Johnson's request after he visited Blair last year to speak at a career event. Blair parent and PTSA member Carolyn Michell, who attended Wilson High School and American University with McGinty, was asked to contact him. "Sheri Verdonk, [the] Blair PTSA [President], asked if I could get in touch with him about speaking at the graduation. She heard him at the career chat and thought he would be a good choice," she said.

At last year's career chat, McGinty gave students advice on what to do now to succeed in the job market despite changing demands, according to Michell. "Even though he was there to talk about careers in broadcasting, his message was relevant to all students: have a well-balanced curriculum in college…so you can be flexible and able to weather the changing trends and demands of the job market," she said.

McGinty also discussed how he became interested in journalism and how he learned to be a good writer. "He said when he was in eleventh grade [news anchor] Jim Vance came to Wilson to speak just as he was now, and that talk inspired him to study journalism," Michell said. According to Johnson, McGinty learned to succeed in journalism through dedication. "He said he took hard work for granted," Johnson said. "He realized there's more to [being an anchor] than sitting back and waiting to write a story. He realized that great reporters go to the scene."

Johnson recalled that McGinty connected with students at the career day to the point that she had to step in and send them to class when the bell rang at the end of the lunch period. "He spoke to the students and got a good, humorous response and a lot of questions. People were laughing because he was very personable," she said.

McGinty will submit his speech to Blair's administration prior to graduation, in order for a sign language interpreter to prepare for the graduation ceremony.

Johnson will also speak at the ceremony, as will senior class president Irene Ravitz. Other students will introduce members of the Montgomery County Board of Education. The ceremony will include 686 graduating seniors, up from last year's 622, according to Johnson.



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