Rain doesn’t dampen spirits at Arlington High School graduation

ARLINGTON — Leaving the safety of high school to enter the adult world can feel like a stormy transition for many graduates.

The Arlington High School Class of 2011 found themselves weathering a literal storm during their June 14 commencement which forced graduating seniors and school district staff alike to don plastic rain ponchos over their black robes.

Melissa Webb opened the first in a series of valedictorian addresses by reflecting on how quickly time seemed to have passed since she and her fellow seniors had begun their freshman year.

“It’s time for us to spread our wings like the mighty eagles we’re named for,” Webb said. “The next chapter in our lives is coming, so let’s start writing it.”

Senior soloist Jordan   doffed his poncho to sing “The Greatest Love of All,” drawing laughter when he said, “I cannot sing Whitney Houston while wearing a plastic bag.” Danielle Parker and Landon Tapper got the crowd clapping as they led “Lean On Me” with the AHS Jazzmine, conducted by retiring director Lyle Forde.

Corinne McClure’s valedictorian address noted that she and her peers had spent “two-thirds of our lives on learning,” before she cited some of the less-quoted works of Dr. Seuss to assert the importance of trying new things, never settling for less than the best, and believing in their own ability to overcome obstacles.

Twin Valedictorians Michele and Cheryl Holsworth admitted to using their matching appearances to switch classes occasionally, but also urged their fellow graduates to find their own identities.

“As twins, we know the value of relationships,” Michele Holsworth said. “Be patient with others.”

“Live your own lives,” Cheryl Holsworth said. “Recall the best, but don’t forget the worst, because you’ve endured a lot.”

First-year AHS Principal Brian Beckley echoed the valedictorians who praised their parents for the parts they played in the students’ successes, noting that the Class of 2011’s academic achievements have earned them $1.6 million in scholarships. Regardless of the paths they’d chosen, which included college, volunteerism and the military, he urged them to make those paths their own.

“This is your chance to leave who you’ve been behind,” Beckley said. “You’re not free from your parents as much as you’re free from your old selves, like a snake shedding its skin. Embrace lifelong learning.”

Chandler Hilker persuaded Austin Bruce to give her a post-graduation piggyback ride out of the AHS stadium. She’ll remain at Everett Community College to become an orthodontist. Jordon Beltran received a congratulations kiss from his sister Alex. After serving as a Firefighter Explorer, he’ll be training to become a Snohomish County firefighter.

As for Dale Cherrie, he’ll be trading the snazzy black shirt and white vest and bow tie ensemble that he sported at commencement for a camouflage uniform.

“I hope to become an Army field medic,” Cherrie said. “I never even would have thought of it, if it hadn’t been for the ROTC program at this school.”


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