Camas-Washougal will celebrate class of 2022 grads this week

Commencement ceremonies planned for more than 800 seniors; Discovery High marks first graduating class

It’s a big week for Camas-Washougal class of 2022 high school graduates.

Commencement ceremonies for the area’s five high schools — Camas and Washougal high schools as well as Hayes Freedom High School and, for the time ever, Discovery High School and the online Camas Connect Academy — will be held this week.

Discovery High will celebrate its first graduation with a public commencement ceremony for 60 graduates at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 9, at the school’s amphitheater.

Camas High School will hold a public commencement ceremony for its 448 graduating seniors at 7 p.m. Friday, June 10, at Doc Harris Stadium.

Hayes Freedom will host a commencement ceremony for its 48 graduates in the newly revamped Joyce Garver Theater on Saturday, June 11. This event is not open to the public.

Finally, Washougal High School will hold a public ceremony for its 224 graduating seniors at 5 p.m. Saturday, June 11, at Fishback Stadium.

All of the ceremonies will be streamed online for those who cannot attend the in-person events.

“There will be a big celebration, I’m sure, when they get to walk across that stage,” said Washougal High English teacher Heather Carver. “They’re going to be really missed next year. They are so chock-full of personality. They are exceptionally wonderful people. They’re fun. I hear from teachers over and over that they’re just, holistically speaking, nice young adults. That, to me, is a trademark of this class.”

Each student will be given eight admission tickets to the ceremony. The event will also be live-streamed at youtube.com/c/WHSEvents.

The school has selected Jaiden Bea, Seong Bucklin, Sarah Knowles, Elizabeth Lendvoyi, Mary Lendvoyi, Elise Moore, Emily Rabus, Lauren Rabus, Molly Rabus and Lana White as valedictorians, and Sophia Krasnogorov and Samantha Mederos as salutatorians.

The ceremony will culminate a series of public events that recognize the class of 2022.

The celebration kicks off at 6 p.m. Thursday June 9, when the school will hold its annual senior awards ceremony at Washougal High’s main gymnasium.

“Families of graduating seniors, and those they invite, can participate” in the ceremony, said Les Brown, the Washougal School District’s director of communications and technology.

The next day, the school will present its annual Senior Parade, which will begin at 7:15 p.m.

“The parade will use the same route as last year — starting out at Washougal High, going down to Main Street and back,” Brown said. “Community members are invited to pack the parade route along ‘E’ Street, 34th Street, and Main Street between Washougal River Road and 24th Street to help cheer on our graduates.”

Washougal senior club reflects ‘attitude of joy’

Washougal High seniors overcame the pandemic-related challenges that defined their final three high school years by “just being together, being in a moment together, and celebrating the little things,” according to Carver.

“Doing little things, like celebrating the fact that they’re seniors, taking control of school climate, and not being afraid to speak up and make decisions and help people along in their own journeys, are things that this class has done,” she said.

They celebrated themselves by creating an unofficial but exclusive coalition called “The Pinky’d Up Club.”

“We started running with this concept of ‘pinkie’s-up is top shelf,’ and you can live that way no matter how bad things are, no matter how much money you have in the bank or don’t have in the bank,” said Carver, who credited senior Anna Poen for the idea. “It’s an attitude of, ‘We’re going to be fancy, and we’re wearing these shirts, and we’re going to take mundane, everyday things and make them special.’ It’s an attitude of joy.”

Carver designed and printed 140 pink T-shirts that have a black diamond on the front with the words ‘Pinkies up’ and another black diamond on the back with the words, ‘It’s a way of life, it’s a state of mind.’

The shirts proved to be extremely popular with the seniors, who snatched them up immediately.

Carver said the seniors deserve to be celebrated for their “heroic” ability to overcome the stress and emotional hardships that they’ve faced during the last two-plus years.

“(They’ve) grabbed hold and continued to run through despite these feelings,” she said. “Every class is remarkable in its own way, but of course this is a special class. They’re going to do great things. They’re going to have that extra grit that (previous seniors) may or may not have because of (the pandemic-related challenges).

“I had many of these students in class as sophomores when the pandemic hit,” she continued. “I remember saying good-bye to them as sophomores when this all went down. I’m so happy that I get to come full-circle with them because the senior class of 2022, no matter what school you go to, is the only class that knew what it was like to behave and be in high school for a normal (school) year before it got ripped out their sophomore year. It’s wonderful to see them come back.”