‘A choice every day to make things better’: Lynnwood High School graduates 277

Looking forward to the graduation party later tonight, they are beaming.

Golden rays from the setting sun showered 277 high schoolers from Lynnwood High School stepping into a new stage in life as they graduated during a Tuesday ceremony. Principal Jesse Goodsky began the event by reading the district’s land acknowledgement, followed by an address from Edmonds School Board Director Hawk Cramer.

Jesse Goodsky
Hawk Cramer

Cramer told Lynnwood High School’s Class of 2024 that while they may receive advice from well-meaning people in their lives, no one can live their lives better than they would. He acknowledged their growth and the fruits of that labor: making friendships, discovering passions and becoming leaders.

Lauren Reyes-Angeles

Salutorian Lauren Reyes-Angeles said she owed her successes to the support systems that kept her afloat in turbulent times and reminded her classmates to remember those who helped them as well. She advised her peers to set themselves up for the future.

Lynnwood High School’s orchestra, band and choir performed music for the event.

“Change is small steps and consistent effort,” Reyes said, before repeating her speech in Spanish.

Two valedictorians took to the stage after Reyes: Luke Francois and Connor Seuferling.

Luke Francois

Francois started by saying that while writing his speech, he had no idea what to talk about, since their common obstacles during COVID-19 pandemic isolation and their hacked Chromebooks had been discussed at length many times in the past. Instead, Francois said that each part of their schooling was designed to prepare them for what was next. This time, however, was different because their paths would now diverge and change.

Family and friends wave to the graduates.

“Adults always say that high school is the best time of our lives,” Francois said. “If the best time of my life is spent rolling out of bed, stressing about that test I have in third period and constantly checking my to-do list in Canvas to find out when my next assignment is due, I’m a little terrified for the future.” He added that ultimately, high school represented a small portion of their lives and urged the graduates to strive for bigger and better things.

Connor Seuferling

Seuferling was one of many speakers who spoke about the importance of bonds and the value of those who had supported him. He gave a shoutout to teachers, families and the wonderful peers who had made the last four years some of the best in his life. He encouraged the graduates to cherish the people around them and let “unplanned, spontaneous interactions” open new and exciting opportunities.

Justine Locke

Assistant Principal Justine Locke was chosen by students to be the faculty speaker at graduation. She passed on a few tidbits of wisdom from fellow teachers:

– When you face adversity, you must believe in your ability to handle it.

– Music will always be there for you.

– We have a choice every day to make things better or make them worse. Make them better.

Locke praised graduates for their unity and support of one another. As she watched them grow and interact with one another, Locke said she saw their admirable qualities as they treated each another with consideration and kindness.

Assistant Superintendent Victor Vergara (left) presents the Seal of Biliteracy for students who have mastered another language.

“You are the voice that shouts in the face of injustice… You will wonder if your actions matter. They do. You do,” Locke said. She then sang a verse from Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time before Black Student Union (BSU) President Nathanial Temesgen took the stage.

Nathanial Temesgen

Temesgen said his choice to join BSU was one of the best decisions he ever made. Having never been involved in a larger community, he found a welcoming and accepting group that allowed him to connect deeply with others who could understand his shared experiences. He lauded the graduates for their accomplishments, like organizing a school-wide walkout in solidarity with Palestinian and Congolese communities. That experience led Temesgen to realize that time was students’ most precious resource and that they must seize the opportunity to make a difference.

“Never underestimate the power of collective action in affecting positive change,” Temesgen said.

Diploma acquired

Associated Student Body President Sara Hall and Class Advisor Paul Keen read the names of students receiving diplomas that afternoon.

Waving to the crowd.

A total of 277 graduates came to collect diplomas, to boisterous applause.

Finally, class officers Stella Leland, Cecelia Camacho and Sophia Moore came forth to deliver their own remarks, which mostly focused on thanks for their loved ones and those who believed in them– even when they did not believe in themselves.

Stella Leland

“I cannot thank my mom enough for the nights I came home at 2 a.m. from hanging out with friends and she was still waiting,” Leland said.

Cecelia Camacho

“Whatever you do, let it bring you peace,” said Camacho.

Sophia Moore

“Change is hard, but necessary,” said Moore, reflecting on new beginnings.

Graduates toss their caps.

Students flipped their tassels, tossed their hats into the air and — in one moment — became alumni. The Class of 2024 listened to one final rendition of the Lynnwood High School Fight Song before exiting the field and entering their new lives.

We did it, pal.
A grad who has outgrown his parents
A hug to remember
Flowers shower this graduate.

— Story and photos by Jasmine Contreras-Lewis

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