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Snoqualmie Valley Record • June 15, 2011 • 3

Top of the class Valedictorians graduate with lofty goals

Touching farewells cap Cedarcrest milestone BY SETH TRUSCOTT Editor

Cedarcrest High School’s Class of 2011 marked a classy, touching commencement ceremony Friday, June 10, at Kirkland’s City Church. No longer students, the young adults marched proudly out of their high school careers, reflecting on their own accomplishments, connections, and one student who fell along the way.

Parting words English teacher Tony Schenk gave the commencement address, hoisting placards with learning targets for his former charges, with phrases like “I can say yes” and “I can be where I am.” “You filed in here this afternoon as high school students. Soon, you’ll walk out the door as high school graduates, as young adults, as ladies and gentlemen. But not just yet.” His lesson was that the students need to be actively involved in their journey through life. He urged them to be in the moment, and not put too much time into time-filling activities like watching television or playing video games. “If you do too much of that, is it really living?” he asked. “Make a choice to be engaged in authentic moments.” Schenk urged students not to spend all their energy waiting for a future event, or looking back on glory days. “Don’t be so obsessed with the past or the future that you SEE GRAD, 18

CHANGE FROM 1 and teacher Bill Halstead, who brought her walker around so she could walk, unassisted, from the stage where she got her diploma, to the spot where Taylor waited to shake her hand in congratulations. Then there was the quiet finger-snapping accompaniment to Cassady Weldon’s singing of “I Will Remember You,” valedictorian Kaylee Galloway’s fist-pump when Taylor mentioned her traffic safety class record, the near-tackle hug that Robb Lane gave Taylor after receiving his diploma, and the ever-growing heap of candy necklaces family and friends were draping around Brianna Moetului’s neck. “It’s just a crazy Samoan tradition” explained her aunt. There were serious moments, too. Ten seniors were applauded for their decision to enter the armed forces after graduation. Kasey Channita, quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson, encouraged his fellow seniors to make their own paths, and highlighted the reasons that the class of 2011 is “A Class to Remember.” He also assured students and parents that, although their paths would take them all in different directions, they would always have their shared time in the Snoqualmie Valley. Laura Woodward, the second student speaker chosen

“If you laugh, think and cry, that’s a full day.”

Seth Truscott/Staff Photos

Clockwise from top, Brendan McCadam shakes hands with Paul Whilen, passing Zachary Wilhelm and Cody Wilkinson after receving his diploma; Justin Barrett sports shorts under his robe; Jordan Rogers sings “How Far We’ve Come, accompanied by Tristan Atkinson and Spencer Paul-Jones.

Mount Si student Laura Woodward, quoting Jim Valvano by her classmates, based her speech on NCAA basketball coach Jim Valvano’s statement about the three most important things in life, “where you started, where you’re going, and where you’re going to be,” and relived some favorite memories from the past four years. She asked her class to thank the people who helped them get here, parents and teachers, and closed with several definitions of success including Valvano’s “If you laugh, think and cry (every day), that’s a full day. If you do that seven days a week, you’ll have something special.” Students talked freely about their future plans, including those who didn’t have anything specific in mind. They planned to follow their passions, whether in service to country like Joseph Erlach and Shilo Waltz, in technology, like Taylor Bettine, who plans to attend the Colorado School of Mines because “I want to get us off our dependence on fossil fuels,” or Ian Ilgenfritz, who is looking forward to starting at Central next year, where he plans to pursue a career in teaching.

MORE PHOTOS ONLINE www.valleyrecord.com Carol Ladwig/Staff Photos

Clockwise from top, Kayelynne Grant shows off the diploma she’s just received at Mount Si High School’s commencement exercise Friday; just-graduated Taylor Bettine gets some help from Mom in adjusting his cap and gown for photos; Megan Winter gives Mount Si High School Principal Randy Taylor a surprise hug after receiving her diploma.

Two Snoqualmie Valley valedictorians were setting their sights on government positions as they graduated from their respective high schools last Friday. Kaylee Galloway, a Mount Si High School senior and soon-to-be Bellevue College alumnus, hopes to focus on one of her “four E’s” in her future - energy, environment, education, or economics. Ideally, she’d like to work at the federal level, but “I just want to help wherever I can,” she said. “I want to help this world become a better place.” She is co-valedictorian with Angela McMillan-Major. Erica DeBrecht, a Cedarcrest High School senior, decided at a youth leadership conference in her sophomore year that she would end up in Washington D.C. “I just knew, this is what I want to do, this is where I want to be in 10 years.” In the meantime, she will be experiencing world cultures firsthand. “Next year I’m going on a Rotary youth exchange to France,” she said. After she earns her degree in international relations, she hopes at Princeton, she’d like to spend a few years in South Africa, too. “I’m really fascinated by the culture, history, politics of Africa,” she said. Galloway receives her Associate of Arts degree from Bellevue College on Friday, completing two years of college coursework during her junior and senior years at Mount Si through the Running Start program. That accelerated education experience is just the start, though. She estimates it will take another seven years, maybe, for her to earn the degrees she wants, a bachelor’s degree at Western, then an MBA and JD in a graduate school she’ll choose later. Galloway chose Western because “everything started falling into place,” she said. Her confidence stems mainly from her parents, who she says supported her every step of the way and let her become the person she is today. “I would consider myself a very ambitious person, and a very hard worker,” she said. Also, “I love school, I love to learn. It keeps the mind working, and helps me evolve as a person every day.” Sports have been a big part of DeBrecht’s life. “I’ve played soccer since I was 3,” she said, and has also taken leadership roles on her color guard and dance teams since she was a freshman. An honors student in Japanese, DeBrecht also took every social studies and history class the school had to offer. She came in early to talk with teachers and really paid attention to what they told her. “When you’re in the classroom, you have to ask questions,” she said.


4 • June 15, 2011 • Snoqualmie Valley Record

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Tight-knit group celebrates Two Rivers graduates BY CAROL LADWIG Staff Reporter

Two Rivers’ courtyard felt more like a family room than a school facility on Wednesday evening, June 8. There were lots of people, lots of conversations, a bunch of cameras snapping away, and a baby’s high-pitched giggles punctuated most of the talk. Mainly, though, there was an overwhelming sense of pride shared by all who came to see the Two Rivers Class of 2011 receive their high school diplomas. Principal Tom Athanases, who many students said made their school feel like it was a family, set the tone for the event, joking about budget cuts, greeting former students, and, when it was time to introduce the graduates, getting a lump in his throat with the first one. “Oh, boy, he said, about a minute into his introduction of Stephanie Davis-Wines’

accomplishments and future goals. After a few seconds, he came back, composed, and described her becoming a mother and getting married, her involvement with the Snoqualmie Tribe and the Canoe Family, as well as her hopes of helping people, either as a massage therapist, or with a psychology degree. Following a school tradition, Athanases introduced each of the six graduates before they accepted their diplomas from School Board President Dan Popp. Dylan Chouinard hopes to attend the Northwest Renewable Energy Resources school for training to become a windmill technician. His father encouraged him to try it, and he is confident that he’ll be successful because “I have a whole lot of people behind me, motivating me,” he said. Ontonio Gaudio completed coursework in three venues this past year—Two Rivers, Mount Si and the Snoqualmie Valley

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Virtual Academy, Athanases said, and after another emotional pause he said. “And this young man is an Eagle Scout.” Gaudio’s future plans are to study welding and some day open his own body shop, restoring old cars. Royel LaBeach received a $500 Rotary scholarship during the ceremony for his dedication to learning, and meeting every goal he sets. His future plans include studying aviation mechanics, but his dream has been to become a pilot, since the first time he flew on a plane as a child. He’s taking a realistic approach, though, saying “I think that job is always in demand, at least the mechanics aspect.” Shannon Shewmaker has shown great initiative this year, accomplishing much of her work through independent studies as she balanced school with work at Highline Community College and the commute to her home in Auburn. She is undecided about future plans, but hopes to continue her studies. Nate Vasquez has his next job already picked out, rock star, and he’s already made a good start down that path. Athanases described how his band, Voices of a Monarch, along with two other Two Rivers bands were highlighted at the GravityFest battle of the bands last year.

Carol Ladwig/Staff Photos

Clockwise from top left, Shannon Shewmaker takes her diploma from Snoqualmie Valley School Board President Dan Popp; Royel LaBeach sits down to examine his diploma; Students’ choices of footwear for graduation were as individual as each of them; Ontonio Gaudio, left, relaxes with his mother and friends at an informal gathering before commencement.

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