The end of one journey...the beginning of another

Senior class vice president Kim Yano gets into the spirit of the occasion as she makes her way into Fishback Stadium Saturday night.

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Washougal Mayor Sean Guard (center), a 1980 WHS graduate, presents Danielle Larson (left) and Kasey Bassett (right) with Citizenship Awards.

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One student worked to stand out from the sea of graduation gowns by wearing unique eye wear.

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Hunter Nelson embraces his friend Danny Riat. Nelson presented Riat with a Bootstrap Award, which is given to individuals who have overcome obstacles during their high school careers. Riat survived severe injuries, including a broken back and broken ankle, following a hiking accident in July 2011.

“What a journey high school has been.”These words spoken during a speech by Washougal High School Class of 2012 co-valedictorian Katherine Ludwig were likely also on the minds of most of the 169 graduates who sat before her on Saturday night during commencement ceremonies.

Held at Fishback Stadium under surprisingly sunny skies, the event included a plenty of laughs, a few tears and plenty of Pomp and Circumstance

Each speaker who took the podium touched on a similar theme that focused on “The Journey.”

Ladwig, who shares valedictorian honors with David Choi, talked about the highlights this senior class experienced, including building a respected athletic program and maintaining high arts program standards.

As graduates, she said, they will hold on to those memories and prepare to make new ones in the years that lie ahead.

“Now we will be branching out from this school to try our wings in the new world,” Ladwig said, later adding, “We have weathered many rites of passage together, and there are many more roads ahead of us.”

During his speech, Choi also commended the graduates for weathering the trials and tribulations of elementary, middle and high school.

“The class of 2012 sits before me and has earned every right to be here,” he said.

Students chose English and history teacher Debbie Buchanan as this year’s commencement speaker.

Addressing the students lovingly, Buchanan described them as “My little cherubs; my much nagged, but beloved students.”

She talked about how the graduates were successful because of their two families — one at home and one at WHS — both supporting, loving and pushing them to be and do their best.

“I want each of you to think about all of the people seated here tonight that believed in you, and told you even when you were in tears and scared that you mattered, and together that you can accomplish anything.”

Buchanan, recognizing the next phase of life that lies ahead for these young people, encouraged the graduates, and their family members and friends, to remember “The Journey.”

“These young adults have learned humility, they have learned to be kind, generous, loving and deeply grateful for the friends, family and communities they’ve grown up with,” she said. “All of you that whispered and encouraged and told them don’t quit, don’t give up, you matter — you are family. This class heard you and they listened. Now it is our turn to let them go, and I am thankful for each and every one of you.”

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