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Heritage High School graduates first class
TULALIP Surrounded by symbols of Heritage High's progress, the tribal campus sent off their first class of graduates from the new high school campus.
Though the students have inhabited the new building near Quil Ceda Elementary off of 27th Avenue for just a few months, they've made it a home, said principal Martha Fulton. The new high school is the culmination of an effort by the Tulalip Tribes and the Marysville School District that started about the time this graduating class started their schooling.
"They left a lot in the other building," Fulton said, referring to the portable buildings on the Boys & Girls Club site that had been home to many students' high school years. "Their mark here is the artwork they've displayed. The science room is full of their experiments. They're doing things they never dreamed they'd do."
Another accomplishment of the Class of 2008 is the way they've taken to the relatively young Early College program that started at Tulalip Heritage. All 15 graduates earned at least five college credits, along with their diplomas.
The Early College program has been a source of pride to Marysville School District Superintendent Larry Nyland, as Heritage was the first school in the country to implement the initiative.
"The hope is kids earn those credits and see it as a commencement," Nyland said of the five-year-old Running Start-like program that brings Antioch University and Everett Community College classes to the Heritage students.
Graduates credited the close-knit culture for helping motivate them through their high school years.
"It's the best school I ever went to," said graduate Jeff Monsegur. "They're not just teachers, they're friends to me."
Class speaker Sheena Robinson credited her older brother for inspiring her to finish school. She cited another drive as well her years on the basketball team, which she considers a favorite memory from her time at Heritage.
"We went to districts every year," she explained.
While the students go out into the world armed with their diplomas and the optimism of youth, guest speaker Marlin Fryberg Jr. encouraged the graduates to eventually bring their gifts back to help lead the next generation of the Tulalip Tribes.
Monsegur, a young father, said he cherished his connection with the Tribes and hoped to take advantage of his heritage and keep it alive.
"It means a lot to the community and to us," he said. "We want to keep it going and pass it down to our sons."