For the 44 new graduates of Edmonds Heights K-12 school, their future as adults is much closer than it was before Friday evening. The school’s graduation ceremony took place in the gymnasium and was highly attended, with people filling the center front section of chairs and both sides of bleachers. The ceremony included five student speakers, addresses by Principal Scott Mauk and Superintendent Kris McDuffy, a musical performance and — of course — presentation of the graduates’ diplomas.
The graduates entered in pairs, smiling and waving to the crowd as they walked down the isle to Pomp and Circumstance, played by the Edmonds Heights Orchestra. Some students wore blue and yellow chords, signifying their membership in the National Thespian Society. Others wore red, white and blue chords for their participation in the FIRST Robotics Competition. (Edmonds Heights took home the state championship in 2017.)
Mikhaila Thorne recited the pledge of allegiance, and Principal Mauk welcomed the crowd. When the audience went quiet during a transition, he said, “You’re all so somber. This is a celebration, you all should be whooping it up.”
The celebratory manner was only enforced by the hope found in A New World, performed by senior ensemble. The lyrics speak of unexpected turns in life, but the constant beckoning of new adventures.
The senior reflections not only spoke about a new world, but reminisced about their old world at Edmonds Heights. Jackson Sterling spoke of the companionship he found, and encouraged his classmate to “relish every moment with these people.” Joshua Lindsey spoke about how grateful he was for all of those who helped and gave him support throughout his high school career. Marium Uri said she had come to appreciate how people constantly change and improve, whether their reason for coming to Edmonds Heights was “Ballet, ADHD or ‘my family is just weird.’” Thomas Sterling emphasized the importance of being yourself, because “you’re going to be with yourself for a while.” Zehraa Al-Hamad concluded by speaking about the love of learning instilled by her parents, and how sometimes learning means fighting fear. “Fortune does favor the bold, and I promise you will never know what you are capable of until you try,” she said.
Mauk’s address encouraged students to take what they’ve learned and apply it to the real world. “You have been the center of your educational universe,” he said. “Update: You are not the center of the universe.” The audience chuckled. But Mauk’s main message was summed up in his to-do list for the graduates before him. He said, first, they should “create and expect belonging wherever [they] are.” Second, they should learn to say sorry and mean it, and third, always treat others with dignity. Fourth, they should always ask for help when they need it, and give help when asked for it. And finally, Mauk encouraged the graduates of 2018 to love and have compassion for themselves. “This is the way to develop love and compassion for others,” he said. He ended with a poem by David Whyte titled Everything is Waiting For You.
When family members presented graduates with their diplomas, the futures waiting for these graduates were diverse in scope and subject. They are pursuing nursing, theater, mission programs, community colleges, four-year universities, and have aspirations about small businesses and the arts.
True to tradition for Edmonds Heights, the senior video was a compilation of photos of each graduate set to music of their choosing. The audience laughed and oohed while watching the graduates become their adult
selves to Jack Johnson and Whitney Houston. The same photos could be seen at the graduates’ tables out in the courtyard for the post-ceremony reception. After they were presented as the class of 2018, graduates and their families enjoyed refreshments in the courtyard decorated with lights, banners, and flowers.
— Story and photos by Mardy Harding