Early in Kelso High School’s 2018 graduation commencement at Schroeder Field, Principal John Gummel tempted fate by joking about the lack of rain.
“I bet you all were hoping for some of that beautiful Scottish weather today. Almost had it,” he quipped.
Later, while diplomas were being awarded to graduating seniors, the rain arrived. Some graduates were lucky: They had either brought an umbrella, or were able to hide under their friends’. Others had soaked-through yellow and blue gowns.
Despite the drizzle, the graduates seemed to be upbeat and excited to move on to the next stage in their lives. For some, like Ben Bergonzine, who’s planning on attending the University of Washington to study biology, it’s a bittersweet moment.
“It feels good; at the same time it’s kind of sad,” he said after the ceremony. “I’m not going to see a lot of (these) people throughout life, but it’s still pretty exciting.”
Bergonzine graduated in the top five percent of his class in terms of GPA.
Graduate Juma Roosevelt, who said she plans on attending Lower Columbia College and Washington State University Vancouver to become a teacher, said she was shocked at how fast high school flew by.
“I didn’t think the four years would go past that fast,” she said, draped in candy necklaces. “I feel like yesterday I was a freshman, but today’s the big day.”
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Roosevelt said she hopes her success can inspire other Chuukese students. (Chuukese are an ethnic group who originate from Micronesia.)
During the ceremony, Senior Class President Spencer Davis called the Class of 2018 “the greatest class to ever come through Kelso High School.”
“Yeah, I might be a little biased, but it’s true,” he added.
Gummel gave a series of life lessons to the graduates in his speech, including one urging for unity.
“This world is not about me. It is about us,” he said. “We are one team, and we need to act in consideration of others. My wants will never overrule our needs.”
Salutatorian Julia Hallowell, who plans on attending UW to study biology, encouraged her fellow classmates to take risks in the coming years.
“As Donna Lynne Champlin famously said, ‘It’s so much worse to live your life in regret in your 40s than it is to have taken a chance in your 20s,’” she said. “So seize the moment. Take a chance to make a change in your life, because it’s better to have failed than to have not tried at all.”