Scriber Lake High School graduated 37 students Wednesday night at the Edmonds School District Stadium. That statistic seems dry. Until you get to hear the students. And you think, “I wish I went to a school like this.”
Senior Mike Hart started the evening by putting aside his cap and gown in favor of jeans and t-shirt, picking up his electric guitar, and playing a version of the National Anthem that would have made Jimi Hendrix proud. Mike’s showmanship showed through as he encouraged the crowd to clap and cheer.
Student Rigby Burrel followed up with an acknowledgement to the Indigenous people of this region. She said, “We gratefully acknowledge the native peoples on whose ancestral homelands we gather, as well as the diverse and vibrant native communities who make their home here today: The people of the Duwamish, Skokomish, Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Suquamish and other coast Salish tribes.”
School Board President Nancy Katims welcomed everyone, then addressed the graduates. “In honor of this momentous occasion, tonight is your night to celebrate. It’s your night to reflect. It’s your night to dream. You’ve already proved how special you are by choosing Scriber Lake High School. You’ve demonstrated the importance of being yourself. You’ve chosen the path less taken. You’ve chosen the path that meets your needs.”
Before introducing the student speakers, Principal Mike Piper said, “I’m proud because you, this class of 2023, have continued to demonstrate traits that this world desperately needs and will benefit from…You are strong, brilliant, resilient — in short, you are just what our world needs.”
Piper then shared to the class what he shares with every class at the end of every school year: “My hope is that one day you will remember this poem for the spirit of the words and pass them along to the ones you love in the life that is your journey. This poem is by a famous 13th century poet, Rumi, and I deeply believe these words for you:
You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust.
You were born with ideals and dreams.
You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don’t.
You have wings.
Learn to use them and fly.”
With that, he introduced the first student speaker, Katherine Carr.
“There’s something I’ve been saying to myself over the last few years whenever I come to a challenge and I think the odds of failing or not being able to follow through with something are high,” Carr said. “I simply say to myself, ‘I think I can, I know I can.’ I say it over and over again until I believe in myself. I’ve said it before tests, interviews, or when I’m just having a rough day. I encourage all of you to give it a try. It works if you let it.
“Now that we’re being released into the real world, I wanted to give my fellow graduates a bit of advice when it comes to accomplishing your dreams. I heard this from a man who I only met briefly. Rick. He told me, ‘Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you.” By this time, the audience started laughing and finished off the words of the Rick Astley song with her.
JP Payne was next to speak. “Growing up, I was a troubled kid going from one school to the next,” she said. “I transferred here because my grades were poor and the fact this was a smaller school. When I first went through the transition of transferring, I was terrified and scared, not knowing what was ahead of me. But after a couple of months of going to this school, I realized Scriber isn’t scary. It’s kind, gentle, helpful and loving.
“This school has saved me. It gave me a second chance to live life to the fullest. Because without this school, I would not be here right now. And I would not have grown into the person I have become today.”
The audience gave a rousing round of applause and cheers. It was quite a brave testimony to share in front of everyone.
Speaker Mona Knight also continued the praise for the school and staff. “I want to thank a couple of my teachers I would thank all of you right here, right now. But that would take way too long. So, I’m going to start off with Coley Armstrong: Keep doing those fist bumps with everyone. I actually looked forward to those every morning and thank you for treating me so nicely. We all know you have a heart somewhere in there.”
“I love all of you guys, all of Scriber is like one big family. That’s why I love it here. I hope you guys miss me, too.”
Alyssa Farias was next at the podium. “When I came to Scriber I was angry at everything all the time,” she said. “I was completely ready to isolate myself and graduate. Marjie Bowker wouldn’t let that pass. After months in her English class, I finally let myself lighten up through writing. Nothing filled me with more pride than seeing her little notes alongside my paragraphs.”
The last student speaker exploded with an exclamation: “Hello, everyone! My name is Wisteria Ray, and I’m so excited to be graduating!”
She read a poem she wrote about her younger sister when her sister turned 13, as a message of hope. A part of it reads: “If I can help you through these years, if I thought I could stop the monsters from coming for you, I would. But remember…you will survive them. Think of the day we celebrate our birthdays, sitting side by side. We will cheer for each other. We will embrace. We will laugh. But that day’s not here yet. So, focus up. Eyes up. Shoulders back. And begin the journey.”
Faculty speaker Samantha Marr was the last to speak before the scholarships were awarded. She said that she talked to students around the campus to ask what their memories of Scriber are. Here are some of them:
“I was just about to drop out of school for good but my mom said, ‘Will you please just try Scriber?’ Now I feel like I have a team here.”
“I wasn’t planning on staying. I was planning on switching back (to my old school). But the people I met here were so meaningful, I couldn’t go back.”
“At my old school, I used to only stay to myself. But I got here, and I realized I was safe.”
“I was in a class for my first two weeks, and I finally said something and Gabby turned to me and said, ‘You talk???’ “
“Home room at Scriber isn’t even called home room. It’s called family. You never feel alone here.”
“I thought it was so run down when I first got here. But it turns out that buildings don’t matter. The teachers here are genuinely nicer.”
Out of all graduations, Scriber Lake High’s is always special to see. It’s a smaller school than the rest, which means it’s more intimate. Mostly, it’s seeing the staff and young adults who’ve worked together to get to this evening, however circuitous it may have been for some.
The evening started off with overcast skies, which one photographer said was ideal, since the light was diffused and there’s no bad angle to take photos from.
During the student speeches, the clouds dissipated, letting the sun’s rays blind the spectators looking straight to the west. Folks put on sunglasses and used the programs to shield their eyes. The photographer turned to me and said, “Why did the sun have to come out?”
Maybe to remind us that the future looks bright for the graduates.
— Story, photos and video by David Carlos