Mountlake Terrace High School presented diplomas to 328 graduates in a Saturday afternoon ceremony that included inspiring speeches and smiling faces as the class of 2022 marked the end of it four-year journey.
Much of that journey was punctuated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Graduation speaker Ritika Khanal, chosen by the Honor Society, pointed out how much the class had overcome to get to commencement, including years of Zoom classes and “you’re not muted” responses.
Khanal, a native of Nepal who is blind, is attending Harvard in the fall. While her visual impairment “results in a lot of challenges and has required me to work that much harder to get to where I am today,” Khanal added “there is no way I owuld have gotten here without the amazing support I got from so many people,” including her family, friends and teachers.
“Some of you probably know me by my name, but many others might know me as the blind kid who hit you in the halls while I was blundering my way to class, yet others might know me as the person who never shut up at school board meetings or never shut up about books and class discussions,” Khanal said.
While the last few years of pandemic-influenced schooling have not been easy for the class of 2022, it also provided an important lesson, she added. “The only thing we can control is how we handle life in the future.”
“We are a new generation…and we are the future leaders,” she continued. “What I want to leave you with today is, we can make a difference in each other’s lives if we choose to do so. Let go of the anger. Let go of the frustration. Let go of all the things that cause us to act rashly. Think about the world from other people’s perspectives. Be willing to keep an open mind. Be willing to be vulnerable and out there for other people. If we can lead thinking about others first, and we can lead being willing to keep our minds open, we can do anything.”
Speaker Damaris Ibrahim, selected by Mountlake Terrace High School staff to speak, said she received some important advice last summer from family friends: “You don’t know what you don’t know,” It taught her “not to worry about things that haven’t come yet because you don’t exactly what the future will hold.”
“We’ve learned a lot from each other and I think as a generation we have a unique approach to life and a really unique set of experiences that we can use to make a difference,” Ibrahim said. We have the power to change how things are in the world right now and there’s a whole lot of bad out there, but we can be that good.”
Other speakers included Colton Tse, selected by the senior class to speak, ASB President Kerensa Suzara and Senior Class President Lindsey Ho.
The graduating class also featured 13 valedictorians: Tabarak Abosabaa, Isabelle Allred, Daphne Andrews, Joha Bubank, Sophina Chen, Elizabeth Cohn, Angelina DePano, Nikolas Faulkner, Caitlyn Gilchrist, Mackenzie Kier, Kyle Lai, Tiffany Nguyen and Melissa Rouse. The class salutatorian was Nick Fancois.