Around F.C.

MHS King and Queen Reflect on High School Careers While Preparing for Parade

As the City of Falls Church’s Memorial Day Parade and Festival nears, an important tradition will live on through Meridian High School seniors Ailene Neal and Alexander Werner. 

This year’s MHS Prom King and Queen, Neal and Werner, will be honored in the Memorial Day parade. Although the both of them said they weren’t surprised to be nominated (as they both nominated each other) they were “more than a little” surprised to hear that people were voting for them. 

“It was somewhat of a shock, as I didn’t think that we had gotten enough notice to be the one of four pairs that had been nominated,” Werner said. “As we were walking up to get the crowns and sashes, I was more or less thinking ‘This is a joke…surely.’”

As graduating seniors of Meridian, both Neal and Werner said there have been various memorable moments of their high school careers. Werner reflected on the fundraiser he organized this year for Extra Life — a fundraising program of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals — for a class project. 

“It didn’t end up being all that big of an event.” Werner said. “But it was the culmination of a lot of hard work from the very start of freshman year.” 

Neal said the memorable moments that come to her have been the “small things” she didn’t expect to remember. One of the most “striking” memories Neal shared was the day before the Covid shutdown, where Neal said she spent her last two classes “talking about whether or not school was going to close.” 

“Little did I know I wouldn’t be back in the building until the same time next year,” Neal said.

Seniors Ailene Neal and Alexander Werner will be featured in this year’s Memorial Day Parade. (Photo: Ailene Neal)

Other moments the two seniors said they valued were working on big projects and assignments for their classes, attending various school functions such as Homecoming and Winter Formal, and the lessons they have learned along the way. 

“The lessons I’ve taken from school have mainly been academic and will be helpful in college,” Neal said. “One of the more important lessons was that I learned the importance of focusing on areas I have a genuine interest in rather than just trying to check off diploma requirements, which helped to keep me motivated.” 

“Probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned is if I keep at things, buckle down and work, stay determined and level-headed, I’ll pull through anything, and maybe even with some success,” Werner said. 

Although both Neal and Werner said there’s not much advice they could give to their freshman year’s selves due to not wanting to change the paths they experienced, they reconsidered as reflecting seniors not procrastinating on assignments, joining more school organizations and being more confident. 

“I was excited for high school going in as a freshman, but the last four years have really been me doing and exploring more each year as my academic and otherwise responsibilities were increasing,” Werner said. 

Being featured in this year’s Memorial Day parade is exciting for Neal, although she said she was “a little nervous” but is “honored by the distinction.” Werner said he is most excited about “being a part of the action,” especially being near The Washington Scottish Pipe Band. 

“It’s that excitement to be part of things that best sums up how I feel about being part of the parade,” Werner said. “I get to be featured as part of what’s really this serious affair and grand spectacle, doing so as a representative of the Class of ’23.” 

After graduation, Neal will be attending St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, majoring in liberal arts and hoping to pursue her interests in music and literature. Werner will be attending the University of Virginia to work toward a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. He also hopes to train and become a certified EMT to work toward his goal of becoming a medical doctor. 

“It’s a great feeling to be able to look back and see how I’ve gone from not doing much of anything in ninth grade to representing the senior class to the city,” Werner said.