Two Rivers grads celebrate paths to success

Gaby Barragon thanks her family, friends and teachers for supporting her during her time at Two Rivers School. - Dan Catchpole / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Gaby Barragon thanks her family, friends and teachers for supporting her during her time at Two Rivers School.
— image credit: Dan Catchpole / Snoqualmie Valley Record

Two Rivers School’s graduating seniors finished their respective journeys at Snoqualmie Valley’s alternative high school with a short walk through a crowded, stuffy auditorium onto the stage at Chief Kanim Middle School on Wednesday, June 17. The crowd’s excitement was almost palpable in the heavy air.

Each student took a different path to a diploma — paths that would not have been possible without Two Rivers. Many graduating seniors said they had given up on school and even themselves before arriving at the school in North Bend. The school and its small cadre of teachers engage students through non-traditional teaching methods.

Graduating was “something I didn’t think I’d be able to do” before Two Rivers, senior Amber Jordan said.

After enrolling she found herself “coming to school and really enjoying being there,” she said.

Like other students she is acutely aware of the school’s reputation as a place for misfits and dimwits.

“I thought it was a place for students who couldn’t make it. But I was more than wrong,” she recalled.

Jordan found a school with intelligent, creative students who didn’t fit into traditional classrooms. Her schoolwork improved, and she learned leadership and public speaking, she said.

Two Rivers is an example of why society must “value the creative genius of its students,” said Rudy Edwards, a school board member and the keynote speaker.

“There’s nothing fancy about being normal. We want you to be abnormal,” he told the graduating class.

The graduating class had more than enough creative genius for David Speikers, president of the local Kiwanis chapter, which awarded three scholarships to graduates.

Far more students deserved the scholarships, and he would push for awarding more in the future, he said.

Every student credited Two Rivers’ teachers for their graduation.

Since its inception in 1987 to help seniors pick up enough credits to graduate from Mount Si High School, Two Rivers has focused on developing close relationships between its staff and students.

“They’re always there for you like friends and family,” said Dylan Reed.

The importance of student-teacher relationships is something bigger, traditional schools have begun to emphasize as well, Two Rivers’ principal Tom Athanases said.

His students have “learned something more than just reading, writing and arithmetic. They’ve learned about choices and responsibility,” he said.

His goal is to produce alumni who vote, belong to civic groups and help their community grow.

Community is vital to Two Rivers’ success.

Each graduating seniors thanked their friends and family filling the auditorium for their continued support.

“No one would be standing here without the love and support you’ve offered us,” senior Richie Padilla said.

The last senior to be recognized, Erin Rainey, left her classmates with a question.

“Where do we go from here? Just about anywhere.”

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