‘At Last’: Scriber Lake HS 2018 grads celebrate their achievements

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    It was a festive Thursday evening and a time to celebrate as 50 Scriber Lake High School seniors received their diplomas, cheered on by parents, friends, faculty, school administrators and each other.

    In a ceremony held in the Mountlake Terrace High School theater, the audience was welcomed by Scriber principal Andrea Hillman, who recognized the presence of Superintendent Kris McDuffy, Assistant Superintendent Greg Schwab, and School Board members Gary Nobel, Anne McMurray and Diana White.

    Gary Nobel spoke on behalf of the board, but his address soon got personal. He related how he began as a self-described “geeky engineering student,” then went through life and career transitions that included musician, suicide prevention counselor, computer programmer and ultimately serving on the Edmonds School Board — “probably the most intense learning experience I’ve ever had.” He concluded by advising the graduates to “embrace opportunities, especially those that expand your horizons. Your experiences shape the person you will ultimately become.”

    Superintendent McDuffy then took the podium to present a special honor, the Superintendent’s Scholar-Leadership with Heart Award, to Ariel Sanabria in recognition of his scholarship, compassion and citizenship.

    Student addresses were presented by graduating seniors Tyler Blanchard, Clarrisa Eastment, Leo Garcia Perez and Christian Rennhack, all of whom praised the teachers and staff at Scriber, and expressed heartfelt gratitude for the guidance received from them.

    There was an address by faculty speaker Coleman Armstrong, followed by a special tribute to Scriber staffer Liza Behrendt, who passed away earlier this academic year. Presented by Marji Bowker and Chris Brown, the tribute included readings from a poem written by graduating senior Ariel Sanabria and personal recollections and remembrances.

    Over the course of the evening more than $100,000 in scholarships were awarded to graduating Scriber seniors. Recipients are as follows:

    • Two $1,500 scholarships from Kiwanis of Lynnwood presented by Zach Taylor to Julie Hess and Madison Aquilar.
    • A $1,250 scholarship from Edmonds Rotary presented by Kermit Sheker to Mindy Filla
    • Four scholarships of $1,250 each from the Edmonds Community College Foundation, presented by Michelle Platt to Brieaunna Dacruz, Clemente Jackson, Jesus Ramierez-Uribe and Aldair Bracamontes.
    • A $1,250 scholarship from Edmonds Kiwanis presented by George Murray to Julia Hess.
    • A $2,000 scholarship from the Hazel Miller Foundation presented by Dorothy Stansberry of the Edmonds School District Foundation to Julie Hess.
    • The $1,000 Nick Brossoit Scholarship presented by Dorothy Stansberry of the Edmonds School District Foundation to Madison Aguilar.
    • A one-year full-tuition scholarship to Everett Community College presented by Zach Taylor to Dakota Brown.
    • The Hubbard Family Foundation $2,000 scholarship presented by Zach Taylor to Tyler Blanchard.
    • A Washington State Opportunity Scholarship worth up to $22,500 presented by Zach Taylor to Ariel Sanabria.

    The scholarship presentations were followed by a rousing rendition of Etta James’ classic “At Last,” performed by graduating senior Jani Cox.

    Students then walked across the stage to receive their diplomas, and proceeded through the auditorium to receive hugs and congratulations from family, friends and teachers. They reassembled on stage, where Principal Andrea Hillman pronounced them graduates. After moving their tassels to the other side of their mortarboards, several could not resist tossing them in the air as final celebration capping off this year’s graduation ceremony.

    — Story and photos by Larry Vogel

    2 Replies to “‘At Last’: Scriber Lake HS 2018 grads celebrate their achievements”

    1. Deep gratitude, Larry and My Edmonds News, for shining a light on these remarkable students, their accomplishments and this very special event.

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    2. First of all, let me state for the record that I am a private citizen who has no connection (financial or otherwise) to the Edmonds School District; and that I am making the following statements strictly as a concerned grandparent and resident living in the Edmonds School District.

      Last Thursday evening, I had the honor to attend my grandson’s high school graduation from Scriber Lake High School. For those who do not know, Scriber Lake is the “alternative” high school in the Edmonds School District — where young people who have faced all sorts of personal challenges can complete their secondary education with the help, support, dedication, commitment and talents of the amazing staff, teachers, administrators and counselors there.

      My grandson began his high school career at Edmonds Woodway High School –where it became abundantly clear (early on) that he was not prepared for the traditional high school learning environment; and that continuing on at Edmonds Woodway (with traditional teaching methods, over-flowing classrooms, old friends, classmates, and sports teammates) was a prescription for abject academic failure. Following that first semester — fraught with academic frustration and social isolation (exacerbated occasionally by demeaning comments from some of his teachers and fellow students) which resulted in feelings of depression and failure, he reluctantly agreed to a transfer to Scriber Lake High School for his second semester. Essentially, he was “beginning his freshman year over again” — with virtually ZERO academic credits going forward. Although he initially struggled with the change from the traditional educational format (and identifying healthy friendships and peer influences), he eventually adapted to Scriber Lake’s unique educational vision and focus — their commitment to “creatively reach and educate each and every individual” willing to make the effort. Once my grandson “bought into life at Scriber Lake”, he made new friends, and with the support and guidance of his Mother and those incredible teachers and staff at Scriber Lake he embraced his “Opportunity” for individualized academic success. He studied more, learned to focus and concentrate better, attended summer school, took on some additional “individualized” learning modules, and, learned the nuances required of a teenager to get to and from school using public transportation. Realizing some true academic success for the first time, his self confidence and feelings of self-worth flourished. My grandson’s “Opportunity” at Scriber Lake is unfortunately (and sadly) unavailable to many young people “seemingly entrenched” in the traditional high school “factory system”. That traditional educational environment– where teachers seem most interested in teaching only those students who do not have learning disabilities, have stable home lives, are more intellectually gifted, emotionally stable and compliant, economically affluent, socially privileged, comfortably heterosexual, and coming from English speaking backgrounds. I have no doubt that there are literally dozens of young people “struggling and barely completing” their 4 years of high school at those “traditional high schools” in the Edmonds school district who would have been far better served (and much better prepared for a productive life) had they also availed themselves of the “acceptance” and enhanced opportunities afforded to students who attend Scriber Lake.
      As I sat there that evening, my heart was filled with great pride as I witnessed the Edmonds School District formally recognize the academic accomplishments of the “boy” who overcame his academic struggles at the beginning of his freshman year at Edmonds Woodway. The person I have witnessed mature and evolve into the impressive “young MAN” who made up for that difficult beginning — and, who still graduated in just 4 years from Scriber Lake High School.
      Topping off the event for me, his efforts and accomplishments were further recognized by the announcement that he was also receiving a scholarship to attend Edmonds Community College this fall. Something he would not dared to have imagined just 3.5 years ago.

      The lesson here, I believe, for many parents (grandparents), guardians and students facing similar challenges is that the lack of academic success at traditional middle and high schools do not mean that greater opportunities don’t still exist for those who truly want to succeed in life. Virtually all young people come to Scriber Lake High School because they had not succeeded in the traditional school system/environment — for all sorts of obstacles and reasons like those listed above. HOWEVER, given another opportunity in this very special school with a talented and dedicated staff (coupled with individualized learning programs), ALL OF THESE YOUNG PEOPLE GRADUATED. Take a look again at the public recognition and financial rewards many of these students received for completing their high school education at Scriber Lake High School. Their commitment to succeeding at Scriber Lake allowed them to overcome the hurdles they met with the more “traditional” school system. Their lives have been forever changed with success in their “second chance” opportunity.

      Congratulations to the graduating Seniors of Scriber Lake High School — class of 2018. Like me, I know your families are extremely proud of you and what you have accomplished.

      If you have (or anyone you know has) faced similar challenges or obstacles with the traditional school system of “education”, I encourage you to investigate the opportunities still available to ALL students at Scriber Lake. Here is a link to their website: https://slhs.edmonds.wednet.edu/

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