‘Determination is greater than brilliance’: Students offer words of wisdom during Meadowdale Class of 2022 graduation

Meadowdale High School valedictorian Tina Nguyen takes a selfie with the Class of 2022 following her speech Monday night. (Photos by Joe Christian)

Inspiring remarks from nine student speakers — including eight class valedictorians — marked the 2022 Meadowdale High School commencement in which 261 students received their diplomas at Edmonds School District stadium Monday night.

Meadowdale High Class of 2022 graduates file in for the ceremony.
Family members wave to the graduates.

Meadowdale ASB co-president Austin Seales recalled his football coach sharing stories about past athletes, noting that “as we graduate, coaches, teachers, underclassmen, employers will all be able ot tell stories about us. Whether those stories be good or bad, they will live on,” Seales said. “Stories will teach morals, inspire others and most importantly, help grow younger generations. So I implore you, graduates, as we start to follow and create our own path, be the reason that someone tells a story. Be someone that people want to tell stories about.”

ASB Co-President Austin Seales

Seales was followed by ASB co-president Hazel Warner, also a valedictorian, who said that during her time at Meadowdale, “I’ve learned the most important thing you can do is work to have a positive impact on your community and those around you.” She recalled the words of ASB Advisor Beth Marriott, who told students daily: “’We do the big things because they’re fun and the small things because we care.’

ASB Co-President and Valedictorian Hazel Warner

“The people I’d admire the most have found something they are passionate about and choose to lift up others,” Warner said.

Starting this fall, Warner added, Meadowdale graduates will begin joining new communities – whether through college or in the workplace. “If each one of us works to better those communities, I know we will collectively have a positive impact on the world,” she said.

Valedictorian Sarah Reitz

Several speakers addressed the challenges the Class of 2022 faced in attending school amid COVID-19 restrictions. Valedictorian Sarah Reitz said a signature of her class “is the ability to accept and adapt to change.”

“Online school was a struggle,” Reitz said. “Rules were constantly changing and we never knew what was going to happen next.” As students returned to in-person classes, “we not only had to learn how to readjust our way of learning, but also how to reconnect with our classmates,” she continued. “It wasn’t easy but we stepped through it and now we are ready to graduate together and leave the COVID school years behind. The willingness to accept and adapt to change in completely new and unprecented situations is what we will bring with us, and it will help us meet future challenges head on.”

Valedictorian Rachel Krueger

Valedictorian Rachel Krueger talked about the value of not always having a plan and being willing to take risks. “No matter how you react, it is a risk and that risk will bring change,” she said. “That change will help you grow. My advice to my fellow graduates, is that if you’re very unsure about what path you’d like to take in life, have gratitude that no matter what you choose, there will be change.”

Valedictorian Ethan Wright

Valedictorian Ethan Wright recalled his grandfather telling him at a very young age “that determination is greater than brilliance.”

“We are all here today because we were determined enough to see things until the end and pursue something worth our efforts,” Wright said. “What I hope all of you will take away from this high school experience, is that academic intelligence alone does not guarantee success. You need grit and a dedication to your dreams.”

Valedictorian Alex Phan

Valedictorian Alex Phan said it was “a testament to our class’s courage” that graduating seniors survived the period of quarantine and online school. “If we focus on the bad times, we’ll never be able to appreciate the good ones,” Phan said. “It is our duty to stand up for ourselves, show the valiance we’re all demonstrating today and open up the sky towards a valiant future filled with endless possibilities.”

Valedictorian Tina Nguyễn

Tina Ngyuen, another valedictorian, encouraged her fellow graduates to challenge themselves with new experiences, someting she did during her senior year when she signed up for STEM classes even though she had no previous background in those subjects. “As we move to the next chapter of our lives, I hope everyone knows that perfection is not possible without challenging ourselves to improve,” she said. Following her remarks, Ngyuen pulled out her phone and took a selfie with the entire graduating class.

Valedictorian Rachel Lee

Valedictorian Rachel Lee talked about how as the youngest child in her family, she was self-driven to achieve good grades, but in the end realized that relationships with her classmates was the most important element of her high school experience. “My grades won’t last forever but the happiness I feel with those I care about will,” she said. “I encourage us all to make time for what makes us happy.”

Valedictorian Sidney Wright

The final valedictorian speaker of the evening, Sidney Wright, shared words of wisdom she received from faculty members after she asked the question: “What advice they would give their 18-year-old selves as they looked toward their futures?” Among the responses:

“Don’t put so much pressure on yourselves to get everything right.”

“Not to worry about other peoples’ expectations for your life. Focus on your own goals and what makes you happy.”

“Try new things, try new places, try new perspectives, try new foods.”

“Don’t rush the phases of your life. Take time to enjoy everything and every person who enters your world.”

“Go where you are celebrated,  not just tolerated.””

“Life is a participation sport. Don’t be a bench warmer.”

Director Robbie Rutherford directs the Meadowdale Bands.
Graduates receive their diplomas

Monday’s ceremony also include musical performances from the Meadowdale High School Bands, as well as the traditional flipping of the tassels and tossing graduation caps in the air.

Switching tassels to the other side.
Hats off to a new chapter.
Graduates celebrate after the ceremony.

  1. Congratulations to All. I thought the small parts of these speeches were all wonderful. I hope life brings them all that they want and that they continue to care as all of them sure seem to. I believe they really do care. Good luck to all of you as you pursue your life goals and your fun events also.

  2. Thank you Edmonds-news for sharing with us the hopes and aspirations of Meadowdale graduation students, it was a wonderful read congratulations to all

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