Tulalip Heritage High School Class of 2010 navigates 'river of life'

The eight graduating seniors of the Tulalip Heritage High School Class of 2010 were advised to treat their adult lives like a canoe journey by speakers at their June 12 graduation ceremony at the Marysville Secondary Campus.

Tulalip Heritage High School Principal Frank Redmon and Tulalip Tribal Chair Mel Sheldon Jr. both noted the students' familiarity with canoe journeys, with Sheldon taking the comparison one step further.

Redmon described the students as culturally aware and involved in their community, praising them for their commitment to staying in school and getting good grades.

"You were leaders in Heritage High School, and now it's time to show your leadership as adults," Redmon said. "Live your lives with love, honor and respect for those around you, and reflect on your experiences to make each day better."

Graduating senior Tenika Fryberg echoed Redmon's reminder that her class' graduation reflected an active commitment to academics.

"We haven't always made the right choices, but we've all struggled and demonstrated determination and perseverance to get to this point," Fryberg said. "We've matured as people and our relationships have grown."

Sheldon thanked the families and tribal elders who have supported the students' efforts, and recalled how he's visited their class regularly over the years.

"How many of us remember our graduation nights?" Sheldon asked. "I hadn't seen my father since kindergarten, and when he showed up that night, it meant so much, because it told me, 'This is who I'm part of.' I'm so proud of you."

Sheldon spoke of "the river of life," and its many tributaries which the students could choose to take, before encouraging them with the knowledge that they will take with them the values they've been given by their culture.

"You can always find your way back home," Sheldon said. "We're rooting for you to succeed. We have no doubt you'll do well, because your potential is boundless and we'll be there to support your education. You get out of it what you put into it, and what you've put into it has brought you here tonight."

Marysville School District Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland recalled the challenges faced by Tulalip Tribal elders such as Stan Jones Sr., and touted Jones as an example for the graduates can succeed as adults.

"A lot of new challenges lie ahead, but what he showed was that, if you work hard, plan well and bring people together, miracles can happen," Nyland said.

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