North Beach High School graduated 40 members of the Class of 2019 with commencement ceremonies at 5 p.m. Saturday in an overflowing school gymnasium.
There were 16 scholarship award recipients, who shared almost 80 awards from more than 30 organizations and institutions. Five graduates received renewable four-year scholarships, and if they all complete their undergraduate degrees, the total amount awarded to members of the NBHS Class of 2019 will be over $780,000.
Co-Valedictorian Lucius Veiga led the way with a Questbridge National College Match Scholarship to prestigious Northwestern University, and a total of more than $325,000 in awards. Veiga joined Amelia Johnson as the two graduates this year who also earned AA degrees from Grays Harbor College via the Running Start program.
Dominique Shipman received a scholarship to Seattle Pacific University valued at $173,116 over four years. Alexis Potter will use over $79,000 in awards to attend Saint Martin’s University. Adelina Desamours will enroll in Johnson and Wales University with $79,000 in scholarship awards, and Korrey Housel plans to study at College of the Ozarks, with nearly $73,000 in awards.
The event got underway with the North Beach Band playing the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance” as those about to graduate entered the gym for the final time as Hyak students.
After an a cappella rendition of the national anthem by Jeff Eison, who will attend Western Washington University this fall, Principal Cyndy Valdez welcomed the crowd and offered the 40 young adults on the stage some encouragement:
“Tonight, we celebrate your commencement, the beginning of the next stage of your life,” she said. “Moving forward, I challenge each of you to believe as we do, that you can achieve great heights. Believe as we do, that you are worthy of success, and once attained, instill that in another. As you prepare to walk out the school doors one final time, remember, you are and always will be a Hyak… you were made to fly!”
Co-Valedictorians Veiga and Miriam Wilkerson both addressed their fellow graduates. Wilkerson thanked teachers Kevin Traer and Paul Bouma, and counselor Mary Nelson, and added, “I’m grateful for all my instructors and all my friends. I’m excited for all of us and our journeys, and I hope all of us in the class of 2019 will reflect on those who have been an inspiration to us, and pay it forward by leaving your own marks. By being an inspiration to someone else in your lives, leaving your own legacy or impression on someone else’s heart. Thank you for being a part of my journey up to this point.”
Veiga told his fellow graduates, “While we are free in most respects, things such as debt, socio-economic status, and class cause disparities in how free someone can truly be …. That is why, no matter how free we feel or how good life looks, we must continue to struggle for freedom and liberty.
“I hope one day to be an influential person who can help battle the oppression that our society faces. For the 10 years I have been here, the support I have received from this community has allowed me to access opportunities I could never have dreamed of being considered for. So, graduates, I hope that the extraordinary educational opportunities we have had these past four years will allow us to bring meaningful and significant change to this world.”
The ceremony concluded as scholarships and awards were presented, the North Beach Choir sang, District Superintendent Andrew Kelly certified that the students had met all requirements of commencement, and School Board President presented diplomas.
The graduates wore happy smiles as they returned to the stage and tossed their caps into the air. Finally, they joined family and friends and began passing through the familiar schoolhouse doors into the world outside, for the first time as Hyak alumni.