The Washougal High School 101st commencement ceremony served as an opportunity to say farewell to several faculty and staff members, as well as the Class of 2015.
Washougal School District Superintendent Dawn Tarzian is retiring this month, along with WHS Associate Principal Gordon Washburn, English and history teacher Debbie Buchanan and secretary Ann Jendro.
During the ceremony Saturday at Fishback Stadium, Gary Andreas, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4278, played “To the Colors” on a bugle, while he stood by Panthers who will serve in the military.
WHS Principal Aaron Hansen acknowledged the seniors who took classes at the Clark County Skills Center, as well as those who earned college credit through the Running Start program at Clark College.
After continuing his tradition of recognizing the seniors who had been involved in fine arts, athletics and clubs, Hansen asked the graduating class to stand and recognize their parents in the audience.
“Make history, and thank you so much for the work you have done,” Hansen said to the students.
Tarzian presented Kyle Eakins with an honorary WHS diploma. After attending WHS in the late 1980s, Eakins graduated from Silverton Union High School, because his family moved to Silverton, Oregon, during his senior year.
Since then, Eakins has served as chair of the Washougal Citizens for Better Schools Committee, president of the Washougal Schools Foundation, and he was a member of the WHS Turf Campaign. He is the head coach for the Canyon Creek and Jemtegaard middle school wrestling programs, as well as an assistant wrestling coach at WHS.
Maddie Gregory, one of four valedictorians, advised classmates to thank parents, teachers and friends who had helped them.
While attempting to avoid cliches and inspirational quotes in his valedictorian speech, Adam Krout ended up talking about Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.”
Krout encouraged the graduates to meet new people and be humble.
“Modesty is severely underrated,” he said.
Valedictorian Paige Moore, a cheerleader and ASB vice president, led the graduates and their supporters through a couple of cheers.
She encouraged her classmates to provide service to enrich others’ lives and “choose a job you love.”
Washburn sang and played the guitar, after doling out some advice to the graduates.
“Learn to live in the moment,” he said. “Don’t blame the past.
“Take responsibility, and do what needs to be done,” Washburn added.
WHS Associate Principal Carol Boyden, advisor for the senior class, acknowledged foreign exchange students from Netherlands, Indonesia and Germany.
“You will always be a Panther,” she said to them.
Washougal Mayor Sean Guard, WHS Class of 1980, presented the citizenship awards to Paige Moore and Karina Miller.
Christina Mackey Greene, a WHS counselor, presented the Bootstrap Award to Christian Noel, for overcoming adversity. After experiencing a loss in their family, he and his father moved from Iowa to Washougal for a fresh start in 2012.
“He did an amazing job of catching up on missing credits,” Karen Wildenberg, a counseling center secretary, said later about Noel.
Orange and Black Award honors went to Matthieu Grant and Jolynn Wenick, for their efforts to raise school spirit.
After the graduates walked the stage to receive their diploma cases, tassels were turned and some of the caps were thrown into the air.
Hugs, handshakes, photos and flowers from friends and family members followed on the football field, before graduates participated in an all-night drug- and alcohol-free celebration, at the Cascade Athletic Club, in Gresham, Oregon.