Families, friends and staff gathered Friday evening to cheer on the Class of 2022 as Lynnwood High School held its graduation commencement for 323 students at the Edmonds School District Stadium.
“It is an honor to be with you all today as we celebrate the class of 2022 and honor their efforts that have brought us here today to celebrate their commencement,” said Principal Mike Piper.
Edmonds School Board Director Gary Noble encouraged the graduates to be lifelong learners moving forward, noting, “You’ve heard the mantra, ‘Follow your passion,’ but as you stroll down your path of life I encourage you to explore the small side paths outside your normal comfort zone.”
He held up his high school graduation tassel from 1966 and listed a wealth of various learning opportunities and experiences he has pursued in the nearly 50 years since then, which Noble said have “certainly shaped” the person he is today. “So graduates, embrace your learning opportunities, especially those that expand your horizons,” he added. “They will be what shapes the person you will become and keep that tassel, who knows what you’ll be doing 50 years from now.”
Anthony Guinto was one of three student valedictorians who spoke during Friday’s commencement ceremony. “I know it’s been a long strenuous four-year journey,” he addressed his classmates, “but nonetheless guys, we made it here today. And not to mention, we also made it here after spending two years laying down in our beds on a Zoom call — so that’s pretty cool,” Guinto said to laughter.
He added that on a serious note, “Every time we look back at these four years, just remember that every decision made has led us to the people we are today a group of resilient, driven and passionate individuals.” Guinto said, “Sitting in our caps and gowns at the precipice of a new chapter in our lives, nothing in this life is promised, and there’s no use wondering what life could have been. We must then learn to accept life as it is as imperfect as it may be.”
Valedictorian Jenna Miller noted that her high school experience “was anything but how I expected it to be.” She added, “Our essential time for growing with each other and being teenagers was disrupted by COVID. However, despite the setbacks and hardships everyone faced, we are all still here graduating today and doesn’t that feel good.”
Miller said, “One of the most important things I learned at the school wasn’t just the academics but also finding how to use my voice and how to be heard. During my time at LHS, I was given ample opportunity to express my feelings and be listened to.”
She reported engaging in many different open conversations, during classes, about a variety of topics. “I had the ability to express my feelings on really important matters and I learned how much power I truly held,” Miller added. “This is a lesson I hope to take with me as well as a lesson I hope we all can take with us for the rest of our lives. We collectively and individually have the power to make change in our society, we can make a difference, which is so exciting to explore.” She then also thanked LHS staff for the support she said was crucial to her education.
Valedictorian Vi Nguyen said the past few years have been quite difficult due to the pandemic. “It was honestly a sucky experience as we missed out on so many traditional events, competitions, and much more that I will always regret and despise COVID for,” she added. “But it did make us stand apart from other classes in the best way possible. No other class can say that they lived the middle part their high school lives at home and then made a great comeback the last year.”
Nguyen noted the graduating class had “adjusted and adapted to three different learning environments” during their time in high school. “With how unique our class is: Going through the pandemic and then coming back to school with adequate motivation and exceptional spirit – we are one talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, showstopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique, we have not ever done before class that I’m very proud to be proud to be a part of. Good job, pat on the back to you all.”
Faculty speaker Sharon White spoke to all of the changes in learning environments and norms, along with associated challenges that the graduating class had experienced over the past four years. “Despite some of these hard tasks, masking up, online classrooms during the pandemic, through it all you have made memories and achieved the most resemblance of what a normal school day would look like,” she said. “I believe this prepares some of you for a greater challenge ahead to nurture others to build a stronger foundation for this next journey in your life.”
She added that staff members had described the graduating class in many ways. “Seniors, they said you are survivors, fighters and oh so passionate. The resilience of these young people and their empathy is inspiring, they root for the underdogs and are compassionate for the marginalized in our society.”
White said of the graduates, “Despite all the odds they made it through with grace and navigated adversity like champs if they can get through COVID high school, they are ready for anything.”
She noted the students had faced many different realities over the past several years and concluded her remarks with some advice to them moving forward. “We are living in a pivotal world, my friends. We need to create bridges not division, to create belongingness not isolation, to create awareness, not ignorance. Be the bridge that connects communities together, show up and put energy into the community around you. Whether it’s taking action, standing up for what you believe in, or helping others to have their voices uplifted.”
Several student speakers throughout the ceremony spoke to experiences during high school that they felt had better prepared them to be leaders and aided in uplifting their voices. Many also thanked the school’s staff for helping to inspire and/or support them in those efforts over the past four years.
Afterward, the graduates lined up and received their diplomas along with a flower presented by faculty members.
The ceremony then closed out with a series of remarks from the class officers. Lynnwood High School’s combined bands and orchestra was on hand to play music throughout the proceedings, including as the graduates exited the commencement.
Friday night’s rainy weather didn’t dampen spirits during or after the ceremony, as many of the graduates gathered outside of the stadium with their families and friends to take pictures commemorating the joyous occasion.
— Story, photos and video by Nathan Blackwell