‘At Last’: Scriber Lake HS 2018 grads celebrate their achievements

It was a festive Thursday evening and a time to celebrate as 50 Scriber Lake High School seniors received their diplomas, cheered on by parents, friends, faculty, school administrators and each other.

In a ceremony held in the Mountlake Terrace High School theater, the audience was welcomed by Scriber principal Andrea Hillman, who recognized the presence of Superintendent Kris McDuffy, Assistant Superintendent Greg Schwab, and School Board members Gary Nobel, Anne McMurray and Diana White.

Gary Nobel spoke on behalf of the board, but his address soon got personal. He related how he began as a self-described “geeky engineering student,” then went through life and career transitions that included including musician, suicide prevention counselor, computer programmer and ultimately serving on the Edmonds School Board — “probably the most intense learning experience I’ve ever had.” He concluded by advising the graduates to “embrace opportunities, especially those that expand your horizons. Your experiences shape the person you will ultimately become.”

Superintendent McDuffy then took the podium to present a special honor, the Superintendent’s Scholar-Leadership with Heart Award, to Ariel Sanabria in recognition of his scholarship, compassion and citizenship.

Student addresses were presented by graduating seniors Tyler Blanchard, Clarrisa Eastment, Leo Garcia Perez and Christian Rennhack, all of whom praised the teachers and staff at Scriber, and expressed heartfelt gratitude for the guidance received from them.

There was an address by faculty speaker Coleman Armstrong, followed by a special tribute to Scriber staffer Liza Behrendt, who passed away earlier this academic year. Presented by Marji Bowker and Chris Brown, the tribute included readings from a poem written by graduating senior Ariel Sanabria and personal recollections and remembrances.

Over the course of the evening more than $100,000 in scholarships were awarded to graduating Scriber seniors. Recipients are as follows:

  • Two $1,500 scholarships from Kiwanis of Lynnwood presented by Zach Taylor to Julie Hess and Madison Aquilar.
  • A $1,250 scholarship from Edmonds Rotary presented by Kermit Sheker to Mindy Filla
  • Four scholarships of $1,250 each from the Edmonds Community College Foundation, presented by Michelle Platt to Brieaunna Dacruz, Clemente Jackson, Jesus Ramierez-Uribe and Aldair Bracamontes.
  • A $1,250 scholarship from Edmonds Kiwanis presented by George Murray to Julia Hess.
  • A $2,000 scholarship from the Hazel Miller Foundation presented by Dorothy Stansberry of the Edmonds School District Foundation to Julie Hess.
  • The $1,000 Nick Brossoit Scholarship presented by Dorothy Stansberry of the Edmonds School District Foundation to Madison Aguilar.
  • A one-year full-tuition scholarship to Everett Community College presented by Zach Taylor to Dakota Brown.
  • The Hubbard Family Foundation $2,000 scholarship presented by Zach Taylor to Tyler Blanchard.
  • A Washington State Opportunity Scholarship worth up to $22,500 presented by Zach Taylor to Ariel Sanabria.

The scholarship presentations were followed by a rousing rendition of Etta James’ classic “At Last,” performed by graduating senior Jani Cox.

Students then walked across the stage to receive their diplomas, and proceeded through the auditorium to receive hugs and congratulations from family, friends and teachers. They reassembled on stage, where Principal Andrea Hillman pronounced them graduates. After moving their tassels to the other side of their mortarboards, several could not resist tossing them in the air as final celebration capping off this year’s graduation ceremony.

— Story and photos by Larry Vogel

  1. Some thoughts from an immensely proud grandfather who shared this article with many friends and family about his grandson’s high school graduation ceremony from Scriber Lake High School last evening — June 14, 2018

    Last evening, I had the good fortune and honor to attend my grandson’s high school graduation from Scriber Lake High School. For those who do not know, Scriber Lake is the “alternative” high school in the Edmonds School District — where young people who have faced all sorts of personal challenges can complete their secondary education with the help, support, dedication, commitment and talents of the amazing staff, teachers, administrators and counselors there.

    My grandson began his high school career at Edmonds Woodway High School –where it became clear (early on) that he was not academically prepared for the traditional high school learning environment; and that continuing on at Edmonds Woodway (with those traditional teaching methods, all his old friends, classmates, and sports teammates) was a prescription for abject academic failure. Following that first semester — fraught with academic frustration exacerbated occasionally by demeaning comments from some of his teachers and fellow students which resulted in feelings of depression and failure, he reluctantly agreed to transfer to Scriber Lake High School for his second semester. Essentially, he was “beginning his freshman year again” — with virtually ZERO academic credits going forward. Although he struggled with the change from the traditional educational format, and in identifying healthy friendships and peer influences, he eventually adapted to Scriber Lake’s unique vision and focus — their commitment to “creatively reach and educate each and every individual” willing to make the effort. When my grandson “bought into life at Scriber Lake”, he made new friends, and with the support and guidance of those incredible people at Scriber Lake he embraced his “Opportunity” for individualized academic success. He studied more, learned to focus and concentrate better, attended summer school and took on additional “individualized” learning modules. Realizing some true academic success for the first time, his self confidence and feelings of self-worth flourished. My grandson’s “Opportunity” at Scriber Lake is unfortunately (and sadly) unavailable to many young people “seemingly entrenched” in the traditional high school “factory system”. That traditional educational environment– where teachers seem most interested in teaching only those students who do not have learning disabilities, have stable home lives, are more intellectually gifted, emotionally stable and compliant, economically affluent, socially privileged, comfortably heterosexual, and coming from English speaking backgrounds. I have no doubt that there are literally dozens of young people completing their 4 years of high school at those other “traditional high schools” in the Edmonds school district who would have been far better served (and much better prepared for a productive life) had they also availed themselves of the “acceptance” and enhanced opportunities afforded to students who attend Scriber Lake.

    As I sat there last evening, my heart was filled with great pride as I witnessed the Edmonds School District formally recognize the academic accomplishments of the “boy” who overcame his academic struggles at the beginning of his freshman year at Edmonds Woodway. The person I have witness mature and evolve into the impressive “young MAN” who made up for that difficult beginning — who still graduated in just 4 years from Scriber Lake High School.

    Just when I did not believe it could, my pride managed to grow even more when his efforts and accomplishments were further recognized by the announcement that he was also receiving a scholarship to attend Edmonds Community College this fall. Something we would not dared to have imagined just 3.5 years ago.

    My grandson, his mother (my daughter) and I are eternally grateful to have been able to find and partake of the opportunity afforded to my grandson at Scriber Lake. The bright future awaiting him in the “commencement” of the balance of his life would not be the same without the opportunity and experiences afforded him at Scriber Lake High School.

    Bill Jackson
    Edmonds, Washington

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