Marysville-Pilchuck's Class of 2012 celebrates graduation | SLIDESHOW

MARYSVILLE — The gymnasium of Marysville-Pilchuck High School was overflowing on the evening of Monday, June 11, as the M-PHS Class of 2012 became the first to have its own graduation ceremony since the creation of the Small Learning Communities that now make up Marysville Getchell High School.

“You’ve accomplished more than any other graduating class I’ve seen in the past 15 years,” M-PHS Principal Andrew Frost said of the students, who totaled $2 million in scholarship awards. Frost went on to praise the parents and guardians in the gym’s bleachers, as well as the school staff seated before him, for helping the students achieve this milestone.

“We don’t make widgets at this school,” Frost said. “We support and challenge young people to dream big.”

Valedictorians Melanie Shelton, Chris Mischenko, Courtney and Corey Coombs, John Ell and Alexa Plant elicited laughter by taking a tag-team approach to their speeches at first, before each one settled into their own topic. Shelton recalled a motivational speaker who had asked her to imagine what it would be like if everyone wore chalkboards that told others the things that they couldn’t say.

“The point of this would be to help people realize and appreciate what those around them are going through,” said Sheldon, who touted her classmates’ caps and gowns as akin to such chalkboards in communicating the work they’d invested in achieving their shared goal of graduation. “Think about the things you have accomplished, and consider the messages that would have been displayed on your chalkboards these past four years. I especially want to commend those of you who have had personal challenges that you have overcome to get here. Those of you who have had ‘I have a learning disability’ or ‘My home life is terrible’ permanently engraved on your invisible chalkboards.”

Mischenko praised M-PHS’s selection of sports, clubs and classes for fostering his classmates’ personal growth, and anticipated that college would help do the same.

“Throughout our four years, we experienced amazing extra-curricular activities, made wonderful friends from nearly every part of the school, and learned from some of the greatest teachers how to be better people,” Mischenko said. “Since we’ve already taken such a huge step from middle school to high school, we’ll all be ready for the next big step in our futures.”

Courtney Coombs likewise credited the friends she’d made at M-PHS with steering much of the course of her development, while Corey Coombs offered a tongue-in-cheek account of the perils of procrastination as a student.

“I’m no psychologist, but I think having friends with similar goals in life allows for a strong support system and is great encouragement for anyone to accomplish what they want in life,” Courtney Coombs said. “I urge everyone sitting before me to remember these relationships you’ve had with others during your high school experience and, wherever you go, never forget the memories which will forever link us together.”

“Procrastinating has become a habit for many of us, but we need to change that in college, the work force or whatever any of us are going into,” Corey Coombs said. “We can’t depend on waiting until the last moment possible to get things done. We need to be responsible with our time and efficient with what we do, but that change can wait till tomorrow,” he laughed.

Ell underscored Shelton’s message about the importance of hard work by identifying it as a necessity in both high school and beyond.

“In high school, working hard isn’t just in the books,” Ell said. “It’s in every part of your life, whether it’s sports, music, jobs and stress, not to mention getting up every morning at 6 a.m. to walk around in this gorgeous Washington weather,” he laughed. “Hard work takes sacrifice. Otherwise, why it would be hard?”

Plant quoted two former presidents in her remarks, first by echoing Woodrow Wilson’s calls to “enrich the world,” then by recalling a question she’d asked Jimmy Carter at the 60th anniversary of the World Affairs Council in Seattle this January.

“How might young people like us make a difference?” Plant repeated her question. “President Carter’s response was basically, ‘Go do something.’ If there is something we want to see change or happen, then we need to get together, talk about it and plan a course of action. As simple as it sounds, this is both empowering and true. Our voices need to and can be heard. If we follow our passions and stick to our goals, we will all find success and achieve greatness along the way.”

For their reflection speeches, Hailey Zurcher lauded the M-PHS Class of 2012 for establishing an identity of its own, in the face of a suddenly diminished student body on the M-PHS campus and stadium stands going from packed to nearly empty during certain events, while Morgan McFalls submitted a somewhat counterintuitive piece of advice.

“I have no wise words, because I’m as lost as the rest of you,” said McFalls, who nonetheless went on to encourage his classmates to embrace failure. “Every one of us will fail, but every remarkable thing has come from countless failures leading to success.”

After graduation, like many students, Jesaikah Tagi received multiple leis of dollar bills and candy from her family, which is a Hawaiian tradition.

“It’s so exciting,” said Sue Tagi, Jesaikah’s mom, who still has a fourth child left to graduate from the Marysville school system next year. “You have to encourage your kids as they go through this.”

“Make sure you get involved,” Fia Tagi, Jesaikah’s dad, advised other parents.

Jesaikah herself plans to attend first Everett Community College, then Seattle Pacific University to become a dental hygienist, but in the meantime, she advised other students, “Live life to the fullest.”

Haman Singh, a classmate of Tagi’s who plans on majoring in business management at Edmonds Community College, offered slightly more sober counsel.

“Freshman year, you might not pay attention because you think it doesn’t matter, but senior year, you’ll find yourself wishing you’d done more your freshman year,” Singh said. “You can have playtime after you’ve finished your homework.”


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