ARLINGTON — Hundreds of Eagle seniors donned blue caps and gowns for the Arlington High School Commencement Ceremony on Friday, June 7, at John C. Larson Stadium.
In stark contrast to the 2012 ceremony, the weather cooperated with the graduating class of 2013 — the sun decided to shine on them, and the crowd that filled the stands to support them — as they made their way across the stage as high school students and left as high school graduates.
After a processional accompanied by the musical stylings of the Arlington High School band, led by John Grabowski, and a presentation of the colors by members of the Air Force Junior ROTC, Principal Brian Beckley welcomed a crowd of cheering parents, family and friends to the stadium.
AHS produced five valedictorians in 2013 — Odin Atkinson, Tiffany Hardebeck, Abigail Basher, Maya Manzano and Krista Showalter — who all addressed their classmates in turn.
Atkinson described his apprehension at transitioning into the Arlington School District in sixth grade, from a private Christian school.
"As I made my way through middle school and then high school it became increasingly clear that my classmates were compassionate, upbeat, curious, respectful and highly talented people," he said. "Your caring has expressed itself in a striking 17,000 hours of community service over the past four years, spanning such diverse projects as Relay for Life, Santa's Helpers and Coaches vs. Cancer."
Atkinson also celebrated the success of Arlington athletes, drama students, Advanced Placement scholars, and more saying, "I don't think that we, the class of 2013, will ever meet greater adversaries than our potential."
Hardebeck described her transition into Arlington schools as a middle schooler, moving from Sedro Woolley in the latter portion of her eighth grade year.
"I felt like I was leaving behind my whole life and my whole heart in a blink of an eye," she said, describing her first day at her new school, Haller Middle School.
"The best thing happened to me on my first day — I met the two friendliest people that I have ever known. And these two lovely ladies are sitting here today in this class of 2013 at Arlington High School."
Hardebeck thanked fellow graduates Kaylee Aune and Marissa Swegle for welcoming her into their school with open arms and making her feel at home in a new environment.
"I realized something bigger than that. The Arlington community has the same charisma and open arms that I witnessed on my very first day."
"No matter what path you choose to follow as we progress in our future, you will be the best that you can be and will always soar higher than what is expected of you. That is the benefit of being an Arlington Eagle," she said.
The Arlington girls and boys basketball teams both competed in the Hardwood Classic state tournament this year, and with Showalter as a player, Basher as a member of the band and Manzano as an ASB leader, they all described being pumped up for the games at the Tacoma Dome, following a performance of "Seasons of Love" by the AHS Flight, led by Brent McGee.
"Shortly after the buzzer sounded and the girls had won, the band was going crazy," said Basher, of the Eagles' qualifying game against Todd Beamer that sent them to the tournament. "There were multiple texts, calls, Facebook posts and tweets saying, 'To the Dome!'"
"For the next week, our one mission was to get students to the Tacoma Dome to support our Eagles," said Manzano, of the ASB. "Our announcements and media posts resulted in filling four school buses with fans to take to the state basketball games. This was such an exciting event realizing that the best basketball players in Washington came from little old Arlington. Not only were the students incredibly proud of them but the community was as well."
When the girls team took second place at state and the boys team took fifth, the girls described the difficulty of returning to a normal school day after all the excitement.
"Coming home was really hard because I knew I was done with basketball forever at Arlington High School," said Showalter. "But that first day back at school was one of the best days of my life. Suddenly, people I had never met were congratulating me and wanting to know about our basketball team. I was extremely proud to see how our school had been brought together out of their pride for us."
Showalter told her classmates that she felt that like she truly belonged at the school and was happy to leave her mark.
"I still run into people around town that ask about our team and I say, 'Yeah, that's right, that's how we do it in Arlington.' Now it's time for all of us to make our mark on the world. It's our turn to make Arlington proud and go prove to everyone what an amazing class we truly are."