Lakewood celebrates graduation

Lakewood High School Class of 2011 Class Speaker Charnie Dondrea tells her peers that she believes in them during their commencement on June 13. - Photo courtesy of Donette Studio
Lakewood High School Class of 2011 Class Speaker Charnie Dondrea tells her peers that she believes in them during their commencement on June 13.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Donette Studio

LAKEWOOD — As the 164 members of the Lakewood High School Class of 2011 assembled forthe last time before becoming graduates on June 13, they received a three-part series of helpful tips for the future from their peers.

LHS Valedictorian Ternessa Cao opened with a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, emphasizing that the students’ achievements are dwarfed by their potential for the future.

“From our past, we have had so many memorable moments, ones that have made us laugh to the point where our stomachs ached, and ones that have inspired us to be who we are,” said Cao, who thanked the students’ teachers, parents, families and friends for helping them make it this far. “For our future, we want to prove to them that our hard work and their dedication to us will be worth something. We will make them proud by going out there to be part of the community and to work at excelling in our talents. For the next few years and throughout our entire lives we will definitely face challenges, but we will learn and grow from them.”

Cao encouraged her peers to open themselves to discovering new paths as adults and to celebrate their accomplishments in the meantime.

“Each one of us is an individual,” Cao said. “Cherish this and never lose yourself. Remember the past and look forward with eagerness toward the future.”

Fellow LHS Valedictorian Hannah Clark recalled a series of memorable classroom moments, as well as the students’ hard work and giving mentors as she included LHS faculty such as teacher, coach and “wise man” Jeff Sowards in the latter category.

“He showed us through his actions that we can make a difference in others’ lives,” Clark said, citing his treadmill marathon to raise funds for the Seattle Children’s Hospital. “He is living proof that the sun is always shining. It shined on our past, it is shining on us now and it will light the way to a bright future.”

LHS Class Speaker Charnie Dondrea injected some humor and quoted pop song lyrics into the proceedings, before echoing Cao’s admission that the future after high school remains uncertain for them all in many ways.

“I encourage all of you to dream big and go after your dreams,” Dondrea said. “I believe that everyone graduating in this room has the ability to do great things. The choice is yours. If you want to do, be or achieve something, go for it. If you don’t believe in yourself, I do. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’”


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