Graduates on their way

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The 61st graduation of Mount Si High School was a night of beginnings and endings. Last Friday night, 274 students received their diplomas at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue and set off for hopeful futures as superintendent Rich McCullough and Mount Si principal Dave Humphrey presided over the last Mount Si commencement of their careers.

Proud parent Doug Hisey was there to see his daughter, Michelle, graduate.

"We're very proud of her. She's been doing Running Start the last two years and was in the National Honor Society. She put a lot of effort into her senior year," said Doug Hisey.

Hisey will attend Wyoming Technical College to study Automotive interior design.

Kathy Stallman came to see her daughter, Brittney Townsend, receive her diploma.

"I'm a graduate of Mount Si from 1984, so for me to be able to watch her over the past few years learning from the same teachers I had was really neat," Stallman said. "I'm very proud of her. I know she's going to go the distance and reach for as many stars as she can."

Townsend will attend Renton Technical College to study to be a medical assistant. She hopes to one day work for Virginia Mason Medical Center.

Ten teachers donned black caps and gowns and sat amongst the students to signify that they were voted by students as the teachers who had the most impact on them during the last four years. Those teachers included Keli Lake, Wayne Lewis, Kim Sales, Lynn Alm, Tina Washington, Garrick Phillips, Chris Jackson, Charlie Kinnune, James Gibowski, Kit McCormick and Joe Galagan.

The first graduate to speak at commencement was Jessie Fisher, who encouraged students to seize the moment.

"Too many times in life we put off the things that are most important and confuse them with obligations," Fisher said. "Where does passion for life come from? The little moments. Stand in the rain and don't worry about your shoes getting wet ... enjoy picking the marshmallows out of your cereal."

Cale Middleton also spoke, apologizing to English teacher Kit McCormick along the way for his use of exclamation points, and thanking the friends and teachers who made a difference in his life.

"I feel like I can tell her anything and usually I do," Middleton said of law teacher Kim Sales. "She helped me realize if I believe in myself, I can do anything."

Middleton also thanked his sixth-grade enemy, now friend, Ben Gore. "He's the only person who can put me in a good mood no matter what."

And last but not least, he thanked his mom.

"I can make my future years a success from what I learned from her. My mom always told me to live my life without any regrets."

Salutatorian Nicole Vanourek added her thoughts on the full circle experience of Mount Si graduates who begin as oblivious freshmen and end up as savvy seniors.

"If living in the Valley has taught us one thing, it's how to be tough," she said, naming "living in the middle of nowhere" as one of the challenges she and her classmates overcame. "We faced teams that looked down on us and we became independent. We don't need to be like everyone else. We need to throw the maps away, find our own ways and start our lives."

Humphrey also honored this year's two valedictorians, Whitney Chelgren and Jennifer Roath. Chelgren received a full-ride scholarship to Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and Roath received $269,000 in scholarship monies. She will attend Western Washington University. Overall, Mount Si students were offered $2,332,832 in scholarship money this year. Of those scholarships, 91 came from Snoqualmie Valley businesses and organizations totaling $42, 250.

Guitarist and graduate Drew McCollum performed "Goodbye," a song he composed especially for the occasion. McCollum had the crowd laughing with cheeky lyrics about the school and good times to come. The other musical offering of the night came from Vanessa Scalzo, Emily White and Philippe Siruno performing Mariah Carey's "Hero."

Finally, BreeAnn Carns spoke, urging her classmates to remember this defining moment in their educational careers.

"Take a moment and look at those around you. Tonight is the last night we sit as students. Tomorrow we will look around and laugh as graduates. Congrats, class of 2005."

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