Four years of toil and effort came to fruition for 311 high school seniors on Monday as members of the Mountlake Terrace High School Class of 2019 received their diplomas at Edmonds Stadium.
The school’s 2019 commencement was held under sunny skies before a packed grandstand of graduates’ family members, friends and guests.
Five student speakers from the Class of 2019 took turns at the podium reminiscing of the past four years and how their time at Mountlake Terrace High School has changed them.
Associated Student Body President Andy Shaw spoke of how he had learned that the greatest happiness in life comes from strong relationships with others. Shaw spent time thanking family members and friends who had supported him during his time at Terrace, then expanded his thankfulness to the entire 2019 graduating class.
“Thank you to every student sitting down in front of me for shaping me into the human being I am,” Shaw said. “I wouldn’t have grown into such a joyful person if you guys weren’t in the hallways influencing my life every day.”
Senior Class President Erica Lampers centered her remarks around a song lyric from Nickelodeon Network band Big Time Rush — “It’s the only life you’ve got, so you’ve got to live it big time.”
“We’ve grown — we’re not the same people we were four years ago,” Lampers explained. “Our class has spent our time at Terrace in the best way we knew how, but now it’s time to move on.
“We’re adults now, heading into the unknown of responsibility,” she continued. “We were dependent on others, but now it’s time to depend on ourselves. There will be no one planning events for us; our teachers will no longer nag us about grades — we are part of the real world. These may sound like scary things, but this is the part of your life when you get to live it big time.”
Rebeka Berhanu, daughter of Ethiopian immigrants and selected to speak at commencement by the MTHS staff, encouraged her fellow graduates to take the knowledge and experiences they have had over the past four years and utilize them to the fullest.
“The habits we create for ourselves now are the ones we will take into our future,” Berhanu said. “It is important for us to fully invest in the education provided to us. Don’t waste the opportunity to learn because we get to determine what happens in our future, who we will become and what careers we will pursue.”
Honor Society selectee Marianne Nacanaynay spent her time at the commencement podium speaking of the many ways she was pushed during her days at Terrace and how she gained from those experiences.
“Doing something that challenged me pushed my boundaries reminded me that the only person really keeping me from doing anything is myself,” she noted. “And simply trying will take you a whole lot farther than never not having to put in the effort.”
“Because above all else, high school is about growth,” Nacanaynay added.
Jacob Knight, selected by the senior class to speak, gave a personal message about discovering one’s self and having a strong sense of self worth, even to the point of sharing with others his previously-concealed sexual orientation starting two years ago.
“I’m standing before a lot of amazing people, people that are happy to hand out compliments to other people they don’t even know,” Knight said. “But when they reflect on themselves they are constantly thinking about what they should be instead of accepting who they are and how they feel.”
“So I challenge you all to explore that within yourselves and to honor those feelings and accept them, but most importantly to accept yourself,” Knight concluded.
MTHS Principal Greg Schellenberg closed out the commencement speeches by honoring the Class of 2019: “(My) message to you, 2019, watching you for two years (Schellenberg has been principal of Mountlake Terrace High School since August 2017), your authenticity, your generosity and your power and potential to change the world have been an inspiration to me.”
“Class of 2019, all the best to you, congratulations on your accomplishments, be believe in you and look forward to hearing all about the amazing things you have done,” Schellenberg added. “Well done; congratulations.”
After diplomas were handed out by Schellenberg, Edmonds School District Superintendent Dr. Kristine McDuffy and Edmonds School Board members Ann McMurray and Diane White, the graduates tossed their caps into the air and then gathered outside the stadium to connect with jubilant family members and friends.
— By Doug Petrowski