‘To move the world, you have to move on’: 329 graduate from Mountlake Terrace HS

“Long story short, I survived” says one decorated cap.

About 2,000 friends and family members came Thursday to celebrate the accomplishments of 329 Mountlake Terrace High School students as they graduated to the next stage of their lives.

Looking forward to the ceremony

Eight outstanding graduates from the Class of 2024 spoke – each of them passing on a bit of learned wisdom, reminiscence or thanks, and all of them looking forward to a bright future. Graduate Yaretzi Ramirez Olivera invited her classmates who had earned a Seal of Biliteracy to stand as she read a land acknowledgement in English, then in Spanish for the multicultural crowd.

Mountlake Terrace High School Principal Crosby Carpenter stands to the side as Yaretzi Ramirez Olivera welcomes graduates and the audience.

Cocoro Kudo performed a moving rendition of the national anthem, receiving heavy applause from the audience graced by her singing– high notes and all.

Cocoro Kudo didn’t miss a single note during her rendition of the National Anthem.

Mountlake Terrace High School Principal Crosby Carpenter led the evening’s ceremony and introductions with fondness and pride for his students.

Screams and cheers from a hearty audience.

Associated Student Body President Tyler Pham provided impressive remarks for someone who claimed he only began practicing his speech that morning. He said that graduation would provide him and his classmates a necessary “reset button” that would broaden their futures and allow them to bid farewell to their past.

Tyler Pham

“In order to move the world, you have to move on,” Pham said.

Senior Class President Delia Glover, who will be attending Washington State University in fall, recalled how about 12 years ago, they’d held on to their parents and cried when first departing for school and now, must move forward in that same way as they left it.

Delia Glover

“Little did we know, it’d pass by in the blink of an eye,” Glover made note of the obstacles that students had overcome in the last few years — like the COVID-19 pandemic that kept them home for months on end and a month-long internet outage during testing that coincided with a massive heat wave.

Colin Fahey

Staff-selected speaker Colin Fahey encouraged his classmates to strive for excellence. He warned them, however, that excellence was not something that could simply be summoned – it had to be practiced.

Kien Trung

Honor Society speaker Kien Trung reminisced on waking up “five minutes before class” in his pajamas as he, like his peers, dealt with the challenges of online learning during the pandemic. They’d overcome that and so, Trung believed they could continue to conquer whatever they needed to as they would keep moving forward.

Katie Larios said her parents didn’t know she was one of the day’s speakers.

Student-selected speaker Katie Larios thanked several teachers by name, adding they had truly made a difference in her life. She continued by thanking her siblings, then her parents. Her father, she said, had dropped out of school at age 12 to support his family; She knew how privileged she was to receive an education. Larios’s voice broke as she thanked them once again in Spanish.

“Our accomplishments in high school are nothing compared to what we’ll do next,” Larios said.

A proud family celebrates graduation

Two of the 17 valedictorians from Mountlake Terrace’s Class of 2024 — Asher Wheaton and Iris Bell — spoke to their classmates and supporters.

Asher Wheaton

Wheaton will soon attend Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He used metaphor to encourage his classmates to move forward.

Graduates await their diplomas.

Bell said that as a member of the school’s orchestra, she remembered attending two graduations prior to this one– and hadn’t remembered a single thing from any of them. She asked her classmates to reject apathy and to care about the world around them.

Iris Bell

“It is up to us to preserve hope. Our lives will be spent looking forward and remembering the past,” Bell said.

The Mountlake Terrace Instrumental Musicians played Pomp and Circumstance, an Overture to Royal Fireworks Music and the recessional tunes.

Glover and Pham read the names of their classmates as each one of them came to collect their diplomas from Edmonds School District school board members.

Hats and confetti fill the air while graduates look to the sky.

Mountlake Terrace graduates threw 329 hats and began 329 new lives before being enveloped by a sea of adoring loved ones.

A group of friends share the moment
Excited grads, post-selfie.
A tearful embrace

–Story and photos by Jasmine Contreras-Lewis

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