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A team effort: Two Rivers School’s 25th graduating class reaches milestone, together | Slideshow
Blinking furiously and looking up, only up, Vanessa Scott and Regan Bedortha made it through most of graduation without tears. It was difficult, though, even as a team effort.
“We didn’t want each other to cry, but if we were going to cry, it was going to be together,” Bedortha explained after she and her Two Rivers classmates were celebrating their high school graduation Wednesday, June 6, at Chief Kanim Middle School.
It was easy not to cry at times, like when teacher Mike Schmidt used a puppet to introduce graduate Kali Davis, or when classmates Alex Hughes, Nikki Potocki, and Davis received scholarships for their future studies.
But then things got serious. Davis said of her years at Two Rivers, “These have really been the best years of my life.”
The graduates took handfuls of carnations and walked into their audience to give them, in thanks, to the people who’d been there for them. After all the graduates were back on stage, Potocki took up the bouquet of flowers from a vase and handed them to Tom Athanases, who’d been principal at Two Rivers through last year, and who retires from education this year.
Through it all, the girls blinked and touched each other’s hands, reminders to keep their composure. But then Dahlia Vera was introduced with the story of how she rode her bicycle, rain or shine, miles each day with her 10-month-old son, Angel, to go to school, because she didn’t have her driver’s license.
“I found out quickly that the word ‘can’t’ was not in Dahlia’s vocabulary,” teacher Merle Hill said.
Nor, apparently, was it in Hill’s, because when Vera got her turn at the podium, one of the first people she thanked was her teacher.
“They told us that … nobody can tell you how to be a mother, but Merle was there,” Vera said, through potty-training, and other milestones in her son’s life. “I want to thank her, because she taught me a couple of things, about how to be a mom…. and if she wasn’t there to babysit my son, I wouldn’t be here.”
Scott’s own turn at the podium brought more tears. “Two Rivers is an amazing school. I felt very special here,” she sniffed.
Bedortha was able to laugh on her turn, as Principal Amy Montanye-Johnson told her “We are very glad that we were your last stop.” She’d referred to the school sometimes as Eight Rivers, because it was the eighth school she’d been to for high school.
Vanessa’s husband, Matt Scott, gave them another chance to smile before receiving his diploma.
“I like how I feel right now, and I hope my kids will get a chance to feel the same way.”
Two Rivers graduated 16 seniors in the Chief Kanim commons. For the processional, students marched in past pillars decorated with signs reading “I am lovable” “I can do it” and “Never give up, because anything is possible. You are who you are.”
Hughes and Potocki each received a grant from Rotary for future education, and Davis received from Kiwanis. Potocki also received the first scholarship from Robert B. Taylor, “who believed education was the greatest gift you can give yourself,” according to teacher Elise Cooksley, who presented the award.
Davis, who’s been attending a cosmetology school in Everett simultaneously with her Two Rivers studies, excitedly reports “I already have my job and career waiting for me!” and jokes that her fellow male classmates are “going to beauty school, too. You just can’t tell.”
Hughes laughs off the beauty school comment, then announces that he’s going to become an elementary school teacher.
Potocki, who downplays the part of her story that includes supporting herself through the last two years of school, also has her plan mapped out. She wants to study botany, and is pursuing a degree at community college now, but will transfer to a four-year institution when she earns her degree.
When she accepted her diploma, Potocki said, to a particular family member “Thanks for never giving up on me, even when I gave up on myself.”
Graduates of the Two Rivers School Class of 2012 are Regan Bedortha, Kali Davis, Hannah Carlo, Andrew Derryberry, Hunter Fite, Alex Hughes, Sabrina James, Luke Kromm, Ryder Lund, Nikki Potocki, Matt Scott, Vanessa Scott, Abby Stokes, Caedon Swift, Hannah Tankersley and Dahlia Vera.