EVERETT — The Marysville Getchell High School Class of 2013 reflected on their journeys, not just as individual students, but also as members of the four Small Learning Communities that moved campuses from Marysville-Pilchuck High School to Marysville Getchell during the class' sophomore year.
Valedictorians Steven Skomski, Leighton Flores, Ryan Poll, Chadi Moussi and Jaime McDonald shared the insights they'd gleaned with their peers during the commencement ceremony at the Everett Community College Events Center on Monday, June 10.
"It is important for us to recognize that our high school careers involved so much more than just figuring out how to commit concepts to memory effectively, in order to recall them for an exam or essay," Skomski said. "In school, I would often hear distressed students ask their instructors a very interesting question — 'When are we going to use this?' This seems to reflect a rather hasty judgment, because there is no doubt that the skills that you earned and refined during high school will be of great use to you in your futures."
"In our future pursuits, we will likely encounter rejection in some capacity, like the rejection letter we received from the college of our dreams, or the call from an employer who could not consider us for a job," Flores said. "Even when we are rejected in some fashion, it does not translate into being a failure. We are just human. Hence, it is inevitable that we make mistakes. Whether for good or for bad, everything happens for a reason, but we should always know there is something better out there for us to look forward to."
Poll echoed Flores' sentiments by urging his peers to grow and overcome the challenges that await them by developing the courage to break out of safe and comfortable routines.
"We aren't taught self-confidence in school," Poll said. "It is a virtue that grows from a strong sense of self-identity and respect. We don't gain confidence by studying about it or envying the accomplishments of others. Rather, we gain confidence by doing things that give us a sense of fulfillment and purpose."
"Although it is difficult to step beyond your comfort zone, it is imperative to be willing to gain strengths in multiple areas," said Moussi, who followed Poll by urging her peers to diversify their skills and interests. "Some of our class' best memories have come from diversity, such as doing sports or engaging in school clubs. The enthusiasm to get involved beyond the classroom, and the well-roundedness that naturally follows, are skills that have shaped and will continue to shape us into better people."
"We sit here today because we never gave up when times got rough, and we all know we have wanted to," McDonald said. "Nothing remarkable is just given to you. It is earned. It's earned by the mindset of knowing there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, that life is a climb but the view is great, and that you should simply never give up on something you dream of. Our class is remarkable. We have worked hard for everything that we have earned and that has shown the past four years."
Outside, Fiatau and Sue Tugi draped leis of candy and money around the neck of their son Daniel, the youngest of their four children, all of whom have now completed high school.
"He's our only boy, and he's the only one to graduate from Getchell," mom Sue Tugi said. "The rest were girls who graduated from Pilchuck."
Daniel Tugi leaves the International School of Communications with his Associate of Arts degree from Everett Community College all but complete, and while he remains undecided as to his future schools or majors, he shared McDonald's faith in all the students' futures.
"Without God, nothing is possible," Daniel Tugi said. "If you don't give up, you can always persevere and overcome."
Fellow ISC graduate Jeanaye Lingat was greeted by her family with a large colorful poster-board sign proclaiming her to be "Princess Jeanaye."
"She's the third out of our four kids, so we still have one left to graduate in two years," said Renato Lingat, Jeanaye's father. "I'm just so proud of her hard work and accomplishments, from her volunteerism to being on the Honor Society."
"I've enjoyed my teachers here, who were a huge influence on me," said Jeanaye Lingat, who plans to attend the University of Washington in Bothell and take pre-med. "I'm not going to miss those 5 a.m. wake-ups, though," she laughed.