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Local seniors say goodbye to high school
Class of '15

Local seniors say goodbye to high school

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For many of Cowlitz County’s seniors, the past few weeks have packed a heady combination of anxiety, “senioritis” and excitement.

Saturday sent off three graduating classes from Kelso and Longview. Here’s a slice of life from a few of those graduates.

Kelso High School

Standing outside her former school with friend and fellow senior Carolina Santiago, Kelso High School senior Nancy Ortega called her graduation unreal.

“It’s really a great experience,” Nancy said. “It feels like I’m not even here. I’m more than proud of my friend for accomplishing this big step. It was hard, but we managed.”

The two seniors joined close to 300 other Kelso graduates who brought in 74 scholarships totalling about $95,600. Seniors Lisa Karnofski, Matthew Bergonzine, Gabe Nichols and Heather Humphreys spoke at Saturday’s ceremony.

Nancy, 18, said the excitement wasn’t over. Both her and Carolina, 18, said they were eager to get jobs and start saving money to go to college. Nancy wants to become either a pediatrician or a kindergarten teacher; Carolina wants to go into nursing.

“I know it won’t stop here,” she said.

R.A. Long High School

For R.A. Long High School seniors Chelsea Zimmerman and Ashlyn Woodard, Saturday’s keyword was “finally.”

Ashlyn summed up her feelings as she sat on the bleachers at Longview Memorial Stadium waiting for her ceremony to begin.

“We finally did it,” she said. “Today starts the day of adulthood.”

Ashlyn, the youngest sibling in her family, said her graduation was a sigh of relief for her parents. Chelsea, the oldest sibling, had a different experience.

“My parents cried all day long,” she said. “It’s a heartbreaking moment for my parents.”

Both graduates want to study nursing at Lower Columbia College. They joined 182 other graduates on Saturday who raised 121 scholarships totalling about $302,000. Seniors Bradley Thielen, Cara Caldwell and Katherine Morgan spoke on Saturday.

Mark Morris High School

Ronald Asucion’s senior year couldn’t have gone by any faster.

“It feels like we’ve been sleeping, and we finally wake up and it’s hard to believe we’ve gone four years in high school,” the Mark Morris senior and future Army man, 18, said Saturday.

Sitting behind him at Longview Memorial Stadium, fellow senior Sean Cadwell, 17, agreed.

“Every year goes by really slowly,” he said. “Then senior year goes by really fast.”

Though Cadwell plans to study literacy and creative writing at LCC, he said life after high school still seemed a bit nebulous.

“I’m happy, but it’s a different experience,” he said. “Everyone wants to graduate but now what do we do?”

Sean and Ronald left high school behind along with 177 other Mark Morris graduates who raked in $114,773 in scholarships. Seniors Joel Leal, Jr. and Julia Wygant addressed their graduating class.

Contact Daily News reporter Lauren Kronebusch at 360-577-2532 or


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