Kirk Boxleitner/Staff PhotoBryce Juneau’s parents

Kirk Boxleitner/Staff PhotoBryce Juneau’s parents

M-P grads triumph in face of tragedy

EVERETT — As the graduating class of 2016 looked back on their time at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, they reflected on the pain and perseverance that defined their experience.

EVERETT — As the graduating class of 2016 looked back on their time at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, they reflected on the pain and perseverance that defined their experience.

Alisha Purdom and Claire Dobler’s reflection speeches during commencement in Xfinity Arena June 15, touched upon the tragedy of the 2014 shooting at their school.

Purdom alluded to the common touchstones of adolescence, from first loves and heartbreaks, to grade anxieties and homecoming dances, before confronting their greatest shared loss.

“We experienced more loss in a matter of seconds than most people do in their entire lives,” Purdom said. “But I know that, because of that tragedy, we were given the blessing of strength. Because we understand fear, we can comfort the world, and because we know real hurt, we can love people differently.”

Purdom urged her peers to remember that pain, and to remain grounded even as they reach for their dreams.

“You don’t have to change the whole world; just try to change yours,” Purdom said. “Stand up for yourself, but don’t be so strong that you forget how to be weak. Be real with people. Be good friends who love deeply. Remember that diamonds form under pressure, and don’t forget where you came from.”

Dobler compared the students’ lives to books that parents and other adult mentors begin writing in, but that the students gradually take more control over writing themselves.

“The pen was also passed among our friends, who added countless chapters of humor, kindness and memories to cherish in our stories,” Dobler said. “Now, the pen is in our hands. It is our turn to decide what to do with it. Do you want to continue to let someone stand over your shoulder and tell you what to write? Or do you take that pen and create your own story?”

Dobler acknowledged that she and her peers lack one freedom that actual authors take for granted, since they can’t always control what happens to them.

“No one would choose to write heartache, sickness and sadness into their own lives, but these sometimes enter our world,” Dobler said. “Our earliest chapters prepared us for the unexpected twists in future pages, allowing us to successfully continue creating the story.”

The three class valedictorians offered relatively utilitarian advice. Khanh Stitsel warned against procrastination, recommended adopting efficient time management and cited the value of learning to work well within teams. Collin Paulk encouraged peers to take part in life’s opportunities and interact with others, and Amanda Kalab exhorted them to cherish loved ones.

M-P senior class president Sam Watson credited his years of football with helping him grow into an adult, thanks in large part to the role models he met.

“I grew up in the only neighborhood around M-P that had an immediate gate onto the campus, so I walked to school to watch football games every Friday night, starting when I was five years old,” Watson said. “It is here where I have grown into a young man, and where I met a one-of-a-kind girl, who will hopefully be around forever. Marysville-Pilchuck has given me everything a young man could ever want.”

More in News

Lions Clubs ‘Give Big for Health’ White Cane Days on Giving Tuesday

Undeterred by COVID, clubs fundraise online for vision, hearing and health screening programs

Inslee: Stay home for 2 weeks

By Jerry Cornfield and Zachariah Bryan The Herald OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay… Continue reading

Fences have been put up around Marysville playgrounds to keep kids off. (Steve Powell/Staff Photos)
Marysville leaders concerned as (almost) everything’s closing

By Steve Powell spowell@marysvilleglobe.com MARYSVILLE – Within hours of Gov. Jay Inslee’s… Continue reading

Briefly

Beware of coronavirus scams SEATTLE – U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran is… Continue reading

Jennifer Thompson, left, and her father Ron Thompson secure a new remembrance plaque to the Oso slide site gate on Sunday, near Oso. Ron Thompson handcrafts a new plaque for the gate every year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Community remembers Oso slide victims, survivors

By Ben Watanabe The Herald OSO — The power of remembering the… Continue reading

People gather to pick up special allergy meals before leaving Lakewood High School on Wednesday in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Districts taking meals to students since schools are closed

By Stephanie Davey The Herald LAKEWOOD — Children wearing pajamas stood outside… Continue reading

Jon Nehring
Letter about coronavirus from Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring

This is an edited version of a letter Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring… Continue reading

Jon Nehring
Marysville leaders’ trip to D.C. productive

MARYSVILLE – City leaders recently obtained advice on how to get more… Continue reading

City Council works toward financing new Fire Station 48

ARLINGTON – The city signed an agreement with Sterling Bank to negotiate… Continue reading

DOUGLAS BUell/Staff Photos                                Lead cook Keina Gowins with Presidents Elementary hands out free grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches to students and parents outside the school Wednesday. Presidents and AHS serve as central kitchen sites for preparing meals, which starting next week will expand to 12 delivery sites from Silvana to Oso. Right, Arlington Food Bank executive director Carla Gastineau and Mike Simpson, food bank board president and owner of Arlington Grocery Outlet, partnered with the district with their Meals Til Monday program, and gave a woman a box of donated food while at Presidents.
Arlington students won’t go hungry during the COVID-19 school closures

ARLINGTON – Arlington schools are closed through April 24 to help fight… Continue reading

City of Arlington carries out operational changes to encourage social distancing
City of Arlington carries out operational changes to encourage social distancing

ARLINGTON – The city has made a series of operational changes in… Continue reading