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Class of 2008 celebrates graduation

Gathered on the main floor of the Everett Event Center, the first row of graduates of the Marysville-Pilchuck High School Class of 2008 applauds one of the student speakers during commencement festivities held June 5. -
Gathered on the main floor of the Everett Event Center, the first row of graduates of the Marysville-Pilchuck High School Class of 2008 applauds one of the student speakers during commencement festivities held June 5.
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MARYSVILLE Naturally, the evening was focused on the graduates who filled the main floor of Comcast Arena at the Everett Event Center.

Still, parents and family were just as happy and excited as those in the spotlight.

For Lamar Steel, the June 5 commencement ceremony of the Marysville-Pilchuck High School Class of 2008 was his first as a parent, though with several children in the Marysville school system, he certainly hopes it won't be his last.

"Everybody's pretty excited," Steel said, adding some 20 relatives from around Marysville and beyond were in the arena or at least in town to help Denay Steel, one of the quarterbacks of the Marysville-Pilchuck football team, celebrate his graduation.

"He's going on to college," said Lamar Steel, "paving the way for the others, showing them how it's done."

At the other end of the spectrum from Steel, for Herb and Sandy Grimes, this was nowhere near their first graduation ceremony as happy observers. The pair has watched their own children, as well as several grandchildren, pick up their high school diplomas.

"And we've still got a few more to go," quipped Herb Grimes.

"It's a special day," said Sandy Grimes. "There's a lot of hard work that goes into it."

Sandy Grimes said she hopes granddaughter Jordan Sand remembers the ceremony as much as her grandmother remembers her own. Grimes was a salutatorian for her class and played an instrumental solo during her commencement.

The Marysville-Pilchuck Class of 2008 had no salutatorian, but did have three co-valedictorians: Elizabeth Hassler, Christina Nelon and Shannon Price.

During her speech to her fellow graduates, Price asked them all to stop and reflect on some of the important moments in their lives so far and to keep on taking the time to do so as their lives move forward.

Nelon talked about the choices her fellow graduates are beginning to make regarding their futures, assuming the elementary school career choices of pirate or princess are now pretty much off the table.

"For must of us, leaving Marysville-Pilchuck will be bittersweet," Hassler said.

She added classmates probably are headed off in many directions, but hopefully will remember each other for many years to come.

The ceremony featured no extended adult speeches, but let the students handle most of the remarks to the graduates. Chosen by her classmates to give a speech reflecting on her time at Marysville-Pilchuck, Alicia Coragiulo noted her class was, to some extent, a group of Guinea pigs.

Among other things, they were the first senior class split into small learning communities, a change district officials inaugurated this year. This year's class also was the first that needed to pass state mandated WASL tests in order to graduate.

"But we survived," Coragiulo said.

Class President Tal Unruh elicited plenty of laughs during his talk.

""It's my great honor to give a speech nobody will remember tomorrow," he said.

Unruh said a friend offered him $7 to mention his name during the speech, but he declined, instead thanking the Marysville-Pilchuck staff "for staff stuff" and reminiscing how, as a junior, he discovered just how annoying freshmen are.

Outside the events center, after the roughly two-hour ceremony, pictures clearly were the order of the day. That seemed especially the case for Jaenyssa Tugi, who was very nearly mugged pleasantly, one assumes by a large group of friends and family that nearly buried her in Hawaiian leis, a reflection of the Tugi heritage. Mom Sue Tugi said she was trying to make the evening as special as possible for her daughter, especially keeping in mind that Tugi's father is deployed overseas.

"I'm happy," was one of Tugi's few comments as she posed for one of possibly a dozen or more pictures wanted by family and friends.

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