The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

WHS Class of 2017 sets scholarship record


Diana Zimmerman

Confetti marked the end of the commencement ceremony for the Wahkiakum High School Class of 2017.

Wahkiakum High School's Class of 2017 graduated on Friday and they did it in record fashion.

The class was offered more than a million dollars in scholarships, and according to Marc Niemeyer, the college and career specialist, that is $400,000 more than any class before them in the 14 years that he has been with the district.

After Jack Leavitt performed the National Anthem on his tuba, co-valedictorian Sydney Hansen welcomed the crowd to the ceremony. She spoke of the good habits the class tried so hard not to learn in eighth grade while studying The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, and she congratulated her classmates for those very habits that carried them through high school, like being proactive, prioritizing, seeking first to understand and then be understood, and finding ways for everyone to win.

Faculty Choice Peyton Souvenir thanked the teachers, staff, and coaches for the lessons and support.

"I can't help but think about how both short and long high school was," Souvenir said. "It was four years of our lives that never seemed to end, but passed by in the blink of an eye. Our teachers saw us at our best, when we were bright-eyed freshmen, new to all that was 'high school'. And they saw us at our worst, the big fish in our little pond who had officially run out of motivation on the first day of senior year."

Prinicipal Stephanie Leitz shared some thoughts about the Class of 2017 before handing out awards.

According to Leitz, the class had two valedictorians with a perfect 4.0 GPA, followed closely by a salutatorian with a 3.9 GPA. Over 10 percent of the class would graduate with an AA from Lower Columbia College. 40 percent of the class was graduating with 15 or more college credits, many earned in a classroom at WHS. Graduates would be attending schools all over the US in the fall including North Dakota, Alaska, California, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, and in different places around Washington state. The class had made at least 15 trips to an athletic state 2B tournament in the last four years and three students would continue to play sports at a college level.

The Involvement/Activities Award was given to Savannah Burdick and Alex Mellis.

The Athletic Award was given to Hank Ferguson and Peyton Souvenir.

The Citizenship Award was given to Makenzie Anderson and McKinnah Nielson.

The Leadership Award was given to Jack Leavitt and Sydney Hansen.

Three students were given the Washington State Honors Award from the Superintendent of Public Instruction. They were Sydney Hansen, Katie Johnson, and Shona Heywood.

Diana Zimmerman

It's all over! Tarah Wisner and Alenna Whitacre make their way outside after the ceremony, followed closely by classmates Nicholas Hummer and Dylan Ahmed.

Class Choice Haley Kerstetter introduced the class to the crowd, told stories, and pointed out that this was the last class from the 1990s.

"Eventually we will all have jobs and be making our own money," Kerstetter said, "starting our own families and creating our own lives. We've created our own family, right here, the Class of 2017."

After Superintendent Bob Garrett presented the class, diplomas were handed out and tassels were turned.

Salutatorian Shona Heywood closed the ceremony with a look to the future.

"When we have our class reunion in 20 years," she said, "which will inevitably be held at The Duck Inn, I'm sure I will be surrounded by doctors, lawyers, engineers, farmers, mechanics, and teachers. I'm certain we all will go on to do amazing things."

The alma mater was sung, and the class celebrated on stage before the rush outside during a lucky break from the rain to be congratulated by friends and family.


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