Marysville-Pilchuck bids farewell to Class of ‘09

EVERETT — The Everett Events Center was packed with proud families and friends June 5, as the Marysville-Pilchuck High School Class of 2009 celebrated their commencement.

For the Aff family, this year’s graduation marked a milestone achievement in two ways. Julie Aff and her son, Jerrid, were there to cheer on her niece Rachael, who’s the last member of their family left to graduate from high school, since Jerrid graduated with the M-PHS Class of 2006. Rachael’s parents, Greg and Deena Aff, were also on hand, and glad to see their daughter again after close to a year apart.

“Rachael grew up in Marysville, from Shoultes Elementary forward,” Julie Aff said. “Her folks moved to Yakima her junior year, but she wanted to graduate with the kids she’d grown up with, so she moved back to Marysville her senior year.”

Rachael Aff moved in with a family friend, and coped with the fact that many of her friends had moved on during the year that she was away, but according to her father, both her boyfriend and her inner strength helped keep her going.

“She had to make ends meet on her own, when her car would break down, or when she needed to pay for insurance and fuel,” Greg Aff said. “It was hard, but she’s got a good head on her shoulders.”

Rachael Aff’s possible post-graduate plans range from art school to the military, most likely the Air Force. Her parents believe she’ll do just as well on either path, given that she’s a “dynamic individual.”

Jeff Erwin’s mother, Marcia, and grandmother, Pat Derr, laughed as they shared anecdotes about their graduate’s progress to this point.

“We’re very excited to see the studious young man that he’s become,” Marcia Erwin said. “There weren’t a lot of growing pains, since he’s become studious over the past couple of years.”

That being said, Marcia Erwin acknowledged that her daughter, Michelle, a member of the M-PHS Class of 2005, was more likely to have her nose buried in a book, while her son favored another approach.

“He was a bit of a procrastinator, but he stepped up to the plate when he needed to because he knew it was all on him,” Marcia Erwin said. “He would tell me, ‘Mom, I’m an independent worker with a different style of learning.’”

Jeff Erwin’s grandmother noted how much larger the M-PHS graduation was from that of her son, Jeff’s father, who graduated from Arlington. Like his father, a Washington State Patrol Officer, Jeff hopes to enter into law enforcement after completing his current two-year running start at Everett Community College, but Jeff is keeping a career in business open as a backup option.

Hannah Samis graduated from M-PHS this year after choosing it as her school two years ago. Hannah’s mother, Elizabeth Samis, explained that they moved from Las Vegas to Seattle four years ago, but wound up moving again to Marysville two years later, at Hannah’s request.

“She didn’t fit in at the Seattle schools,” Elizabeth Samis said. “She had a friend up here who she would visit and she asked if we could live here instead. She’s enjoyed school ever since.”

Hannah Samis plans to attend the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, to start out as a pharmacy tech before eventually becoming a pharmacist, preferably by interning at Walgreens.

“I don’t think there are words to describe the transition I’ve watched her make, from childhood into adulthood,” Elizabeth Samis said. “She’s grown into a wonderful human being and I’m very proud of her.”

After the ceremony, the entryways of the Everett Events Center were clogged with graduates receiving congratulations from well-wishing family members and friends.

As he traded hugs with a visiting cousin, Justin Bertilson stated his intentions of either starting a band or becoming a firefighter. Like many other parents that night, Justin’s mom, Vicky Jacobson, was relieved to see the last of her children graduate from high school.

“We finally made it,” said Jacobson, the mother of two other M-PHS graduates. “We’re so excited for his future.”

Josh Wallace was greeted by the sight of his childhood self, smiling back at him, literally larger than life, on a poster-board held by his mother, Raegan Bundy.

“That’s a scary question,” Wallace laughed, when asked when he planned to do next. Until he chooses a college, Wallace will be working.

“It took a few swift kicks in the butt to get him through it, but they were all out of love,” Bundy laughed. “We did it, though, and that’s the bottom line.”

Fiavavini Talatiana looked like a colorful caricature of Mr. T, as his family and friends weighted him down with so many candy and decorative leis that they almost came up to his nose.

“There were times when we weren’t sure that he was going to make it,” said Leko Talatiana, Fiavavini’s father, as he explained his son’s plans to major in graphic design at Everett Community College. “I just hope that he continues to learn and grow.”

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