Congratulations, Class of 2018!

Camas-Washougal graduates walk in ceremonies

(Post-Record file photo) Washougal High seniors attend graduation at Fishback Stadium in June 2019. This year's Class of 2020 graduates are not able to have in-person graduation events thanks to ongoing COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, but will have online recognition, a parade and a sunset-viewing event.

Camas High School graduates pose for a celebratory photo following the graduation ceremony June 15.

Classmates applaude Salutatorian Andrea Gonzalez (front row in the middle ) following her speech. Gonzalez only knew Spanish when she started school in Washougal.

Camas High class of 2018 valedictorians Amanda Sturges (left) and Noah Thompson (right) pose after receiving their diplomas on June 15.

Camas High School graduates decorated their graduation caps with inspirational quotes and future college logos.

Raindrops cover Washougal graduate Kate Northcut's glasses as she listens to her classmates recall special memories over the past 12 years of school.

Hayes Freedom faculty and staff congratulate graduates after they receive their diplomas Saturday, June 16.

Hunter Harris (second from right), an enlistee in the U.S. Army, watches fellow Hayes Freedom graduates receive their diplomas Saturday, June 16, at Liberty Middle School. There were 33 graduating Renegades in the Class of 2018.

Camas graduates share laughs, tears

The Camas High School class of 2018 walked across the graduation stage June 15, at Doc Harris Stadium.

The graduation ceremony featured the Camas High Associated Student Body members, Camas High Principal Liza Sejkora, teacher of the year Kathryn Boring, senior class president Tyler Toedtli, Camas superintendent Jeff Snell and valedictorians Noah Thompson and Amanda Sturges as speakers.

Graduating seniors Samara Davis and Claire Bauer also delivered an original song titled “This Town,” in their senior performance.

“So here it is class of 2018, my hope for you is that you spend the entirety of your life continuing to learn,” Sejkora said in her speech.

The soon-to-be graduates and the whole crowd came together in laughter when Teacher of the Year Kathryn Boring, a Camas High math teacher, poked fun at her seniors’ dance moves, sports teams and tardiness.

Boring’s speech took a more somber tone later in the ceremony, when she opened up about lessons she learned since her high school graduation.

In high school, the thought of being a teacher briefly crossed her mind before deciding she would go to college and graduate with a degree in information technology and make a good salary, she said. What she didn’t plan for, was that she hated that job and it made her miserable. And, then, one night, while driving home on dark, windy back roads, Boring veered into a ditch and flipped her car.

“So I was upside down in my car. My car was smashed, and I was scared to death,” she said. “I crawled out, looked at it and thought, ‘holy crap, how am I still alive?’ I started reflecting and I came to a realization: ‘I’m wasting time. I have to stop wasting time.'”

Boring said she quit her job, applied for an education program and moved to Denver, Colorado.

“Then I became a teacher and my life became totally awesome,” she told the graduating seniors.

Superintendent Snell shared how proud the school district is of each graduate.

“Each of you has a unique story that brought you to this day,” he said. “All of your stories include meeting the graduation requirements of Camas High School and the state of Washington, but they also include so much more. They are stories of persistence, stories of compassion and care, they are stories of seeing the world with optimism and hope. They are stories of great joy and challenging pain. Your stories inspire us and give us great motivation for our future. We want you to continue to be learners and continue to be curious about what can be, instead of what can not. Thank you for sharing these first few chapters of your story with us, our best to you as you write the rest of your stories.”

Senior class president Toedtli said he is proud of all the graduates.

“No matter wherever this school takes you I hope each and every one of you go on to whatever beautiful adventure life takes you,” Toedtli said.

— by Tori Benavente

Tight-knit Hayes Freedom graduates told ‘best years still to come’

The Hayes Freedom High School class of 2018 entered the Liberty Middle School gymnasium to a brief version of “Pomp and Circumstance,” that quickly transitioned to the song, “Whatever It Takes,” by Imagine Dragons at the school’s graduation ceremony, held June 16.

Principal Amy Holmes told the 33 newest graduates she was in denial that she was going to have to let them go.

“This is a place where you will always belong,” she said.

ASB President Alyssa Jackson, a self-described former “wallflower” and Hayes Freedom student for two years, thanked her teachers for being compassionate, thoughtful, funny and understanding.

“I never knew that school didn’t have to be dreadful until I came to Hayes,” she said.

“I am so thankful for being able to be a part of a tight knit community with all of you,” Jackson added. “I am so proud of all of us. I’ve seen everyone struggle, push themselves and grow. You’ve all seen me do this too.”

ASB Vice President Samantha McClellan, a four year student at Hayes Freedom, said Principal Holmes believes in the capability of students and gives them an environment that helps them succeed.

“She and the rest of the staff at this school really do inspire me to push forward and do great things,” McClellan said.

Hayes Freedom English teacher Mark Gardner told the graduates he hopes that high school is not the best years of their lives.

“In 20 or 30 years, I hope the best years of your life are still to come, and that your life is a story of struggles overcome, achievements earned and character evolved,” he said.

Erick Lake, one of the graduates Saturday, said parents, guardians, the school, community and society have done their best to prepare students for their futures.

“The lives we will lead are those that cannot be prepared for, just experienced,” Lake said. “This world will beat us down. It will kick us down into the dust and spit in our eyes while we bleed, and frankly I hope that it does.”

Camas School District Superintendent Jeff Snell encouraged the graduates to lean on family and friends and be kind, fearless and proud.

After receiving their diplomas, the graduates turned the tassels on their caps and flung them into the air, then celebrated their achievements with each other as well as family and friends.

— by Dawn Feldhaus

Washougal High sends seniors off in thunderous fashion

1,460 days — Co-Valedictorian Phoebe Walker eloquently pointed out that’s exactly how many days it takes to get through four years of high school in Washougal.

As she made her graduation day speech on June 16, the skies opened up with a thunderous downpour on a spectacular final day for the class of 2018.

Principal Aaron Hansen led the ceremony, his eighth at Washougal High School. Hansen spoke about how he asked seniors to describe in one word their class. Words from students included resilient, dedicated, multi-talented and kind. Hansen added his own words too: “gritty, inclusive, caring, communicative and thoughtful.”

Co-valedictorian Emma Hein reminded the crowd how much the world has changed since the class of 2018 was in kindergarten. She pointed out there was no such thing as an iPhone when they started school and also recognized that America elected its first African American president while the class of 2018 were students.

“We can do anything. We can change the world,” Hein said.

In honor of her parents, salutatorian Andrea Gonzalez’s speech was given in Spanish as well as in English. She thanked her parents for their hard work and sacrifice that allowed her to be where she is today.

WHS English teacher, softball and girls wrestling coach Heather Carver gave the commencement address. She said former Washougal choir director Jennifer Mahorney, who died of natural causes in March, was in the stadium with all of them in spirit.

“You are not just identified by what you accomplish or your failures,” Carver said. “You are worth knowing as you are right now. Allow people to get to know you.”

Bridgette McCarthy and Marcus Bennett received the Citizenship Award. Alexander Ortiz was honored for his hard work with the Bootstrap Award, which recognizes the student who perseveres the most in spite of adversity. The annual Orange and Black Award, which goes to the most-spirited student who bleeds orange and black, went to Jalen Watts.

— by Wayne Havrelly