Two Rivers graduates embrace success

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FALL CITY - motions ran high for families and faculty members June 13 as this year's crop of Two Rivers Alternative High School seniors received their diplomas.

The class of 2001 consisted of Katie Anderson, Jennifer Baruch, Stephany Beneze, Crystal Callahan, Josh Fowler, Gerald Goin, Catherine Griboski, Kristi Huskinson, Daniel Lane, Amanda McCaffree, Jason Moe, Ashley Riley, Rachel Roy, Derek Schneider, Toby Van Bryce, RaeAnn Washise and Kimberly Wolfstone.

For the graduates, the day had been a long anticipated and hard-fought one, since many of the 17 graduates had obstacles to overcome before reaching this milestone.

"Thanks to Two Rivers, I was able to finish school, and they provided childcare to help me fulfill my dreams," said Ashley Riley, who gave birth to son Skyler in January. In her speech, she also thanked Merle Hill, the childcare worker who watched her son in the school's nursery while she attended classes. Riley reached her goal of graduating on time with her class, even though she missed six weeks. Now her goal is to get a college degree in early childhood education.

Dr. Rich McCullough was the event's speaker. He read a poem about success by Ralph Waldo Emerson and urged the students to make a difference in the lives of others, one person at a time. Snoqualmie Valley School District board member Kristy Sullivan handed out diplomas.

Two Rivers, located in North Bend, has a family atmosphere, which makes education more personal, according to many students and teachers. Everyone, including teachers, goes by their first name, and everyone helps out. That's why the staff wore beaming faces and wiped away tears of joy while listening to each graduate's speech.

"It's really hard to watch them go because you went through more than just school with them, you went through the family [problems] and the stress. I know at least something about everyone, so this is hard," said Elise Cooksley, Two Rivers science teacher.

In an interview minutes before the graduation ceremony, Crystal Callahan gave the following advice to struggling high-school students: "You can do it, if you put the effort into it. Even if it takes you an extra year, or another two years." Callahan will attend Bellevue Community College this fall to study psychology.

In addition to their diplomas, many Two Rivers seniors won scholarships as well. Katie Anderson was awarded the Kiwanis scholarship, Rachel Roy took home the Lion's scholarship, Amanda McCaffree received a scholarship from the Moose Lodge and Catherine Griboski was also presented with a Moose scholarship, along with the Sno-Valley Eagles Women's Auxillary Scholarship Award and the Rotary Club student award. Kristi Huskinson received the Mount Si Business and Professional WomenOs scholarship, and Ashley Riley and Gosh Fowler were given the United Snoqualmie Valley Scholarship Foundation award.

Two Rivers is an alternative middle and high school that was formed 14 years ago to meet the needs of students who might not succeed as well in a traditional school setting. Around 250 students have graduated since its doors opened. Principal Tom Athanases leads the school and was proud to see yet another group leave his nest and fly out into the world.

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