‘The future is truly in your hands’: Meadowdale High graduates 350

Many young graduates obtained the “Seal of Biliteracy.” These students decorated their caps to thank their parents in Spanish.

Rain or shine, over 350 Meadowdale High School students were ready to graduate Friday –and so they did. Their loved ones braved the cold to celebrate the occasion and cheer as the teens moved to the next part of their lives. The school boasted an impressive 15 valedictorians who had managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA through high school.

Vanessa Ho

Associated Student Body Treasurer Vanessa Ho read a land acknowledgement, spurring student musicians in Meadowdale High School’s bands and orchestra to play a soothing rendition of the national anthem. Later, graduating seniors left their seats to share a final song with their underclassmen in the bands, orchestra and choir. Together, they performed a mellow rendition of “Lovely Day”– complementing the gentle drizzle.

A graduate and guitarist
Members of the Meadowdale Choir perform Lovely Day.
Sayuki Kaplan

Sayuki Kaplan was the first student and valedictorian to speak. She said that when beginning high school, she envisioned the days ahead to be full of theatrical drama that she’d seen in films. Instead, she and her classmates found friends while learning about themselves and their passions. Finding her personhood led Kaplan to realize that they all had the power to craft their own paths forward.

“The future is truly in your hands,” Kaplan said.

Valeria Ordonoz Ortega

Kaplan was followed by classmate Valeria Ordonoz Ortega, described herself as their “wild card speaker.” Dance team member Ortega spoke about immigrating to the U.S. from Columbia due to hardships. She discovered that, despite the language barrier, many kind classmates were eager to become her friends. That warmth supported Ortega as she grew and learned.

“As we proceed into our adulthood, there are many who will follow in our path,” she reminded her classmates.

Loved ones braved the cold to share the moment with their friends and family.
Thomas Lam

Valedictorian Thomas Lam began high school at Edmonds-Woodway (described jokingly by Lam as “the enemy” in reference to the schools’ rivalry). Lam spoke about the options open to his classmates such as going to a trade school joining the workforce or taking the traditional route of going to college.

“Struggle isn’t wrong. Struggle is proof of our shared experiences,” Lam said.

Sarah Parker

Associated Student Body President Sarah Parker thanked her supporters– starting with Starbucks and their sweet, invaluable caffeine. More seriously, she offered thanks to her teachers, family and friends– many of whom she met and bonded with digitally during the COVID-19 pandemic. She urged her fellow classmates to define themselves not by their struggles but by their actions.

Receiving a diploma.

Students formed a line and received their diplomas one-by-one, to applause from the audience. Rain had ceased by the time the ceremony ended, so graduates walked under clear skies as they exited high school.

Faculty members wave to their cheering students before exiting the stadium. They waited outside to return the favor when graduates passed.
The cap toss
There are many ways to celebrate one’s graduation, including a group selfie, left, and a hug.
Young graduates beam with pride
Congratulations from an underclassman.
One family poses for a photo, surrounded by many others doing the same
Palpable excitement
A warm hug from grandpa

–Story and photos by Jasmine Contreras-Lewis

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