Striding to his car after an emotional ceremony, Zach Miller, the captain of the Cedarcrest football team last fall, was relaxed in sneaks and bright red socks. His black robe flapped loose around his bare chest.
Why so relaxed? “I’m done,” answers Miller. “It’s too hard to describe” this moment, he said. “I can’t even think about it right now.”
Instead of looking back, he’s looking ahead, to attend Washington State University this fall, where he plans to get good grades and live the good college life.
Miller and the other 190 members of Cedarcrest High School’s Class of 2013 strode into the auditorium of the Overlake Christian Church Friday, June 14, as a senior class. They marched out of the auditorium, to the sounds of Simple Minds’ “Don’t You Forget About Me,” as something different—young adults taking new steps in many directions.
“I’m feeling good. I feel like I accomplished a lot,” said Spencer Kendall, as he waited for family after the ceremony. Now, he’s heading to college or the military, “wherever the wind takes me.”
Making the customary speech, Ryan McGinnis, the Cedarcrest salutatorian, did look back. In his closing thoughts, McGinnis reflected on the journey that he and his classmates took to reach this moment—starting as freshmen in 2009.
“It was really junior year that we first realized we don’t have to act a certain way to make friends. We could be ourselves. We made new identities for the first time.”
When senior year came, “the moment we waited for had arrived. Now we were the big men and women on campus. We did our ‘Yeah, I’m a senior, so what’ walk.
“This was our last homecoming, our last pep assembly, our last CHS TV, our last informational film warning us not to do stupid things,” McGinnis said.
“It never hit me how close we truly were until the senior countdown went up in the Commons. Even then, it seemed like we had so much time left. But as the numbers hit single digits, it hit me that our days in these crowded halls were truly numbered,” said McGinnis, who offered a few simple lessons: “Cherish the memories you share with each other… Stay true to yourself and be who you are.”
“It is not the end, but rather the beginning of the road we must all travel,” announced valedictorian Andrew Burnell. “Regardless of your plans after high school, whether you are going straight to a job, into the military, continuing your education or taking a break to figure things our for a while, there is no doubt that graduation marks a transition from growing up” to fully embracing a new world.
“We now have the skills we need to move forward,” Burnell said. “We have grown, we are as prepared as we can be.”
Struggle, success, and a send-off
“You’ve struggled, but more often, you’ve succeeded,” said Cedarcrest history teacher and soccer coach Zach Pittis, the faculty speaker.
“You’ve dissected, presented, volunteered, headed and charted, welded, sculpted, diagrammed, labeled, translated, nature-walked, foldable’d, math tested, EOC’ed and HSPE’ed. Your stories are well documented on places like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter—always Twitter.”
“One of the things that really stands out” about this class, said Kate Sherman, student emcee, “is its ability to set positive examples and lead their peers.” Naming dozens of clubs, activities and athletics, she and fellow emcee Molly Hammontree asked class members to stand for each organization they took part in. Much of the seated Class of 2013 rose.
Cedarcrest also gave a send-off to Superintendent Conrad Robertson, who first joined the district the year that Class of 2013 entered Kindergarten.
“Like our seniors, Conrad will also be graduating,” said Cedarcrest Principal Clarence Lavarias. “But instead of college or the military, Conrad will be graduating to a life of golf and grandchildren.”
Senior vocalists Shaini Candland, Brianne Carlson, Taylor Cramer, Josh Heinrich, Matthew Krepky, Anjani Patel, Merry Ruat, Kate Sherman and Emily Thompson perform “It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.”
Cedarcrest graduate Alexis Ramos poses with many balloons, and with his sister, Blanca Ramos, following the ceremony.
Anna Stein smiles for family photos following commencement.
Spencer Kendall shows off his diploma.
Kate Sherman and Molly Hammontree celebrate on stage,
Conrad Robertson, left, experiences his last Cedarcrest graduation as superintendent, with principal Clarence Lavarias.
Kaelyn Campbell receives her diploma.
Valedictorian Andrew Burnell gives his speech.
Anjani Patel adjusts her accessories as she waits to march into the auditorium.
Cedarcrest’s Taylor Kirschenman pumps her fist as she strides out of the auditorium, now officially graduated.