Resilient Class of '19 graduates at WHS
June 20, 2019
Thirty-two seniors walked through the doors of Wahkiakum High School last fall, and 32 seniors stood on the stage on Friday night to receive their diplomas.
It was a resilient group, according to Class Speaker Lucas Brown, who shared stories of their perseverance with the crowd of friends and family that filled the gym.
There was Evan Quigley, who as a youth would not be deterred from supporting his classmates at a football practice he could not participate in after suffering a head injury earlier that day at the pool. There was Michael Martin, who was turned away from the Air Force recruiter two times before beginning a tough training regimen and losing 61 pounds. According to Brown, Martin would leave for basic training in three days.
"This class has been put through the blender," Brown said, "but together we persevered and that blender has made this end result even sweeter. I know that this class is bound for greatness because we will not let life beat us."
Valedictorian Ellie Leitz welcomed the audience.
"For me, Wahkiakum High School has always been so much more than this little L-shaped building," Leitz said. "It's a community that is always ready to cheer on our accomplishments and help us learn from our failures. It's an era of hilarious, heartbreaking, embarrassing, and triumphant memories that are all irreplaceable."
She spoke of her experience as the daughter of the high school principal, and the many hours she spent in that L-shaped building, even before she stepped through the doors as a freshman. She spoke of freshman fears, of being welcomed and mentored by upperclassmen who were expected to introduce ninth graders to the inside of their lockers. She thanked teachers and staff, coaches and teammates, and encouraged the students who followed to "cherish the time you have left here, because the thing I have learned this year, is your lasts always seem impossibly distant until they are upon you."
"I am so beyond grateful for the time I was blessed enough to spend within these walls and for all knowledge, friendships, and memories that I have gained," Leitz said. "I will look back on this chapter of my life with nothing but love and gratitude. Wahkiakum High School, thank you."
Two seniors were selected to share the faculty speaker honor, Kayla Wisner and Makaila Bigelow.
"High school is the time to make mistakes," they said. "It's the best time to figure out where you want to go and what you want to do, even if it doesn't all work out in the end. High school is the time to figure out not just who you are, but who you want to be."
The Involvement/Activities Award went to Charlie Ashe and Seth Kuljis. Athletic Awards went to Lucas Brown and Macie Elliott. Citizenship Award winners were Jamal Ahmed and Kayleigh Nakonsky. Finally, the Leadership Awards went to Ellie Leitz and Lucas Brown.
Then one by one, they filed across the stage to receive their diplomas.
Closing speaker and Salutatorian Charlie Ashe assured listeners that the Class of 2019 would "step out of the box, away from the X-Box, push boundaries, advocate for their passions, and overall challenge the status quo."
With that, the tassels were moved, the Alma Mater was sung, and the graduates of the Class of 2019 made their way out of the gym and through the front doors of the high school to await congratulations from friends and family.