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Graduation excitement rules the roost Thursday at commencement exercises

Joshua Caleb Jasper raises his diploma in triumph as this year
Joshua Caleb Jasper raises his diploma in triumph as this year's Collins High graduates were instructed to rise.
— image credit:

The Courier-Herald

Everyone who packed the White River School District Auditorium for the Collins High School graduation ceremony Thursday night had a reason to be excited.

Friends and family were excited to see their loved ones graduate. Collins graduate Kaylea Edgar-Holden said the graduates were the most excited because they were graduating and entering life. Collins High Principal Marcie Polin and the other staff attending the graduation were excited because, among other reasons, the 43 graduates made up the largest class of students to ever graduate from Collins High.

"They are the most awesome group of graduates ever," Polin said.

She said, of the 43 graduates, three were either already in or going to enter the military; three finished high school while raising a child; 30 graduates were headed to college; six had participated in running start; and four were graduating ahead of schedule.

Three awards were given at the ceremony. Pepper Clark was awarded $500 from the Buckley Log Show Committee. The Victor L. and Elise W. Lyon Scholarship Fund of the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, worth $1000, went to Rhianna Waterman. The Pierce First! Scholarship, an award for one year of tuition at Pierce College worth approximately $1,900, was awarded to Sonja Sparks.

That the class was the largest to graduate automatically made it special, but the various speakers addressing the group at the ceremony also added their thoughts on what made the group so special.

Guest speaker Peter Shook, White River School Board director, said there were three facts people should know about the graduates at the ceremony that made them special.

He said first of all, all the students dug in and did what they needed to do in the face of adversity.

Second, the students know what it feels like to be surrounded by people who care for and help them, and he asked the students to spread that caring around.

The third, he said, was that "you are the people who inspire us."

Shook said in addition to recognizing the graduates, it was important to celebrate the accomplishments of the network of people who helped the Collins High students graduate. He said besides just helping the students graduate, they also help the students heal.

"I've never seen the word 'healing' associated with education," Shook said. "I'd like to see it more."

The students, themselves, did not forget those who helped them during the years. Of the six students who spoke at the ceremony, each thanked their friends or their family for helping them during their years at Collins High School.

Student speaker Andrew Glenn Jones stressed the importance of getting that help, and for him it came from his mother. Sometimes things looked pretty bleak, he said - he didn't think he would make it through and he wondered why he even tried.

"But now we're here, and we made it," Jones said.

Jessica Keller can be reached at jkeller@courierherald.com

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