Now launched out into the world – the Chief Sealth International High School Class of 2018, in the first of tonight’s two commencement ceremonies at Southwest Athletic Complex.
The Sacred Waters Canoe Family sang a “victory song” toward the start of the ceremony, which also was attended by dignitaries including deputy superintendent Stephen Nielsen, a Sealth alumnus. Principal Aida Fraser-Hammer delivered words of thanks to the faculties of Sealth’s feeder schools: “You taught these students to investigate their world, to challenge the status quo …” She congratulated valedictorian Zhen Williams and salutatorian Jadyn Conner; she noted that gold cords marked those graduating with GPAs of at least 3.2. She also noted that the school had ben touched by tragedy, including the murder of sophomore Derek “Peachy” Juarez-Lopez just before classes began. But she also offered words of celebration for students who led social-justice actions in support of causes including gun safety and racial equity. And she mentioned the students who shone in athletics including Quinn Wiley and Elijah Jackson, as well as academic-related pursuits such as Mock Trial, and musical/artistic endeavors. “As you can see, there’s a lot to be proud of.” No one knows that more than the family, friends, and community members, and the students were asked to turn and salute them too.
Featured faculty speaker was social-studies teacher Matt Baudhuin, who started at the school when this year’s seniors were freshmen.
“Of all the classes I’ve had, no one has pretended to laugh more at my jokes than you guys.” So he offered a few more. The students, in turn, held up fake beards they’d made in tribute:
And then he turned serious, quoting from Maya Angelou, “Just Do Right” … including “Try to be the best human being you can. … This is your life, your world, you make your own choices. … It is up to us to just do right.”
Student speaker Gregorio Avalos followed, first acknowledging that not only is the school on Native lands, but that it’s named after Chief Sealth.
Then: “Four years felt like four months.” He shared memories going back even further, all the way to elementary school at Concord. He expressed gratitude to those who’ve been part of his life, and for this day as a chance to “be very proud of ourselves to know we overcame many barriers and obstacles” to reach this milestone.
Following him, “lunch lady Doree” (Fazio-Young), who joked she hadn’t seen some of them since she “threw PB&J’s at them in 8th grade.”
She graduated from CSIHS in the class of 1978. “One thing has remained the same – tonight you’ll receive a piece of paper, a piece of paper you’ve earned.” She urged them, “Never forget where you came from.” She hadn’t imagined she would wind up serving lunch to students for 26 (so far) years – but she says it’s exactly where she’s meant to be. “I got old, you grew up.” And she left them with the words “Choose your roads wisely … I love you.”
Another student speaker, Lauryn Haywood, spoke next, beginning with a Dr. Seuss quote that start “You have brains in your head, feet in your shoes” (read the entire quote here).
She acknowledged nervousness at looking to the future, but also excitement. “The future is in our hands .. we are the future doctors, lawmakers, inventors … the people who will create change. … We can accomplish whatever we choose.”
Then, the big moment(s) – diplomas, smiles, and cheers:
According to the ceremony program, this year’s CSIHS graduating class numbered 229.