Between an outgoing principal offering an impassioned plea for fair news coverage and several student speakers who exhorted their peers to dare to dream big, the Chimacum High School graduating class …
Between an outgoing principal offering an impassioned plea for fair news coverage and several student speakers who exhorted their peers to dare to dream big, the Chimacum High School graduating class of 2019 sent the message loud and clear, during their June 8 commencement, that they are not to be underestimated.
Outgoing Principal Brian MacKenzie — who’s transitioning into teaching next year — took both The Leader and the Port Angeles paper to task for what he saw as inadequate coverage of his students’ achievements.
Superintendent Rick Thompson shared a number of comments his teachers had made about individual students, in which the word “determined” was repeated for several students.
Thompson also noted the 111 scholarships received by the class of 2019, with the local community contributing more than $159,000 out of a total of more than $600,000 that was awarded to these students.
“Please join me in thanking the many volunteers and the generous Chimacum community for making dreams come true,” Thompson said.
Student-selected faculty speaker Bob Williams delivered an earnest, entertaining set of tips for life in his speech, similar in tone to the down-to-earth 1997 “Wear Sunscreen” speech by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich.
Williams offered advice as eclectic as car-care reminders to repeated urgings to make sure the women in their lives are happy, noting that not spending money on frivolous purchases can help them save up for long-term dreams.
“Have more than one job you’d like to do, because you may not like the one you have. Don’t be afraid to start over, because a lot of us have,” Williams said. “Help someone out, and you will be proud of yourself, as will we.”
Co-Class President Polly Nole took aim at the phrase “It’s just Chimacum” by defending the benefits of living in a close-knit community with a familial feel, even as she acknowledged its changes in administration.
“Yes, I know it’s hard to be proud of something when you’re frustrated and wishing things would just be different, but our Chimacum pride is actually the solution,” Nole said. “Everyone here wants to be proud of where they went to school and grew up, and we need to work as a school, as a community, as individuals and as alumni, to make that happen.”
Class-elected speaker Cole Dotson defended following one’s “crazy dreams,” no matter how seemingly unattainable, not only out a sense of obligation to their own untapped potential, but also to give back to the school that has given the class of 2019 and its predecessors so much.
“I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard, ‘Chimacum kids don’t go anywhere,’ but I say, ‘Why not?’” Dotson said. “As the 101st graduating class, we have a responsibility to start the next 100 years of Chimacum off right.”
Co-Salutatorians Lacey Bishop and Kaitlyn Ejde both related Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” to events in their own lives — Bishop breaking her back, and Ejde sustaining a brain injury from a concussion — that forced them to approach their education in different ways from how they’d planned.
“Although I was succeeding in my classes, I felt disconnected from the school and my classmates. The way I was learning was different from my peers,” Bishop said. “(But) the right path is the one which allows you to become successful.”
“The overgrown road may have more obstacles, more sleepless nights. It may require the investment of more tears and more work than the easier road,” Ejde said. “(But) all that hard work will shape you — no, it has shaped you into who you are today.”
Valedictorian Renee Woods called for young people to use their own voices to advocate for positive societal change, even if they feel pressured to stay silent.
She cited the examples of Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, who addressed the United Nations at the age of 16 to champion education for women, and the surviving students of the Parkland High School shooting in Florida last year, whose continued activism has led to updated gun control laws in 26 states.
“Remember that your age is not an excuse for others to dismiss you. Remember also that your social or economic standing does not limit you from expressing your opinions, nor does it somehow make them invalid,” Woods said. “Now, class of 2019, go out and show everyone what a kid from Chimacum can do with their voice.”