Seventeen seniors celebrated their high-school graduation from Two Rivers School at last Wednesday’s ceremony held at Chief Kanim Middle School in Fall City.
The attitude throughout the evening was one of playfulness and appreciation for family, friends, teachers, the school and the experiences.
Dressed in traditional black caps and gowns with white carnation boutonnieres and corsages, the students sat on stage while their principal, Tom Athanases, along with a guest speaker and teachers expressed many rounds of “congratulations” to the graduating class of 2006.
With the inclusion of this year’s class, Two Rivers has graduated 338 seniors since it first opened in 1987 as an alternative method for students to take control of their education.
Two Rivers is about choices, goal-setting and personal responsibility, Athanases said in his welcome speech.
“It’s about setting your own goals and about taking responsibility for your own education,” he noted, taking a moment to acknowledge Two Rivers’ alumni in the audience, including ’99 Two Rivers graduate and ’04 Cornish College of Arts graduate Josh Brown, who played piano during the processional.
“The success of Two Rivers is attributed to the heart of the students and the support of the community and the school district,” Athanases added.
Snoqualmie Valley School District No. 410 Superintendent Joel Aune, in his first graduation address since joining the district last fall, was the guest graduation speaker.
In his speech, he noted the importance of setting goals, taking responsibility and making good choices, but he also challenged the students to think about how they could help others and make a contribution to their community.
“I think it’s important to think about others as we think about ourselves,” he said. “People that make a conscious effort to serve others and contribute to the community … I think those are the people who are really, really successful.”
Aune wished the students good luck, success and happiness.
Snoqualmie Valley Rotary Club President Patty Baker presented student Kyle K. Green with the rotary club’s “Student of the Year” award and a $100 savings bond.
Each student received a personalized introduction from a Two Rivers’ staff member before having the opportunity to say a few words themselves. School board members Marci Busby and Kim Horn presented the graduating seniors with their diplomas.
Each student thanked the teachers and staff of Two Rivers, as well as family, friends and others who gave them support along the way.
Teacher Jack Webber introduced first recipient Joshua R. Holmes-Pohle as a “silent leader” and a listener; he received his diploma from a seat in the audience and did not speak.
For Michael G. Smith, Webber recalled Smith’s thoughtfulness and his role as a valuable member of society.
“Two Rivers is a really good choice,” Smith said. “I had fun. Thanks.”
In speaking about graduate Linda N. Perez, Webber teared up.
“Linda is a success story,” he said. “Her story breaks your heart and gives you faith.”
All but having given up on school at various points in her academic career, Linda spent five-and-a-half years at Two Rivers. Two years ago, Webber said she came to him and said she had made a commitment to graduate in June 2006.
Teacher Michael Schmidt introduced Dylan E. Corriveau, Zackery A. Klaiber and Tyrone F. Purchase.
Corriveau was applauded by Schmidt for his honesty, as well as for his well-informed and impassioned ideals.
For Klaiber, Schmidt strummed a guitar while talk-singing a song about Klaiber’s qualities, who he called “a leader among his peers.”
Tyrone was called a “true original” and Schmidt noted his goal of working in film.
“Two Rivers is not the cliche high school you see on TV,” Tyrone said in his speech. “It’s better and that’s why it’s amazing to be a part of it.”
Introduced by teacher Sherm Simmons as a man on his way to making himself a success, Jesse B. Andress thanked his parents and teachers for their support.
Simmons shared with the audience Heather L. Killian’s story of becoming legally blind at age 2 after an accident (though, over time she has regained much of her sight) and how her perseverance has led her to the goal of becoming a dental hygienist.
Instructional assistant Kathy Kerr had the opportunity to introduce Sara B. Rambow, her cousin’s daughter.
“She set very high goals for herself and her perseverance and determination has paid off,” she said.
Rambow called her time at Two Rivers a privilege.
Robert J. Ryan was called a traveler and a philosopher by Kerr.
“When asked what he wants in life, he says he wants an extraordinary life,” Kerr said.
“When I first came to Two Rivers, I saw [Athanases] and he said to me that it was our choice to be here at school,” he said, noting that Athanases assured them that if they made a dedicated effort, they would earn their diploma. “And here we are now,” said Ryan.
Described as self-motived, hard working and enthusiastic by teacher Laurie Weinkauf, Joshua M. Harris said that without the support of the school, his family and friends, “I probably wouldn’t be standing here now.”
For Ashley L. Robey, who is interested in the medical field, graduating was more than just for her; the achievement was also in honor of her 8-month-old son Jacob, she said.
“We know you have a great future ahead,” Kerr said.
Head secretary Christi Wright introduced Sarah E. Hughes as a “caring, kind and helpful person” who had recently written a children’s book that may be published.
Tearing up during her speech, Hughes thanked her mother, saying, “You mean more to me than anything else in the world and I wouldn’t be here without you.”
Teacher Elise Cooksley introduced Jacob J. Klaiber, calling him unpredictable and entertaining.
“We will miss Jake immensely,” Cooksley said. “We can’t wait to see what he’ll do next.”
She also introduced Brett C. Purchase, acknowledging his “spirit of activism” and his efforts to be authentic in his actions and words.
Brett made a promise to stay true to his convictions and to continue to make those who support him proud.
Teacher and school counselor Elaine Marshall Burgener introduced Christina M. Perez as someone with passionate concern who possesses “an ironic wit and a sense of adventure.”
In speaking about Green, Burgener said that “he does not just motivate, he inspires those around him.”
Green walked up to the microphone and said simply, “Thank you.”
Athanases presented to the audience the class of 2006, who, as is tradition, threw their hats up in the air to celebrate the achievement.