Through thick and thin, copious amount of changes, and their fair share of challenges, the Stanwood High School Class of 2019 always had each other.
“One of the reasons tonight is so special to me is because of all of you,” valedictorian Madison Love told the crowd of 288 fellow graduates and hundreds of family and friends during the June 19 commencement ceremony at the Angel of the Winds arena in Everett. “Together we’ve been growing and learning since we were little. ... All of these experiences we’ve been through together have rooted us here in Stanwood.”
Love urged her classmates to embrace their humble upbringing as they head out into the world, in sharing this message:
“This small town, where we see our teachers at the grocery stores and follow tractors to school, is something we will all forever share,” she said. “We’ve grown up with each other and spent most of our lives growing up together. But now it is time for us to grow some more, branch out and take our own paths in life."
Thirty-five graduates are going to state universities, 32 are going to community college, 10 are going into the military, 21 are going to attend a technical college, and a number of you have committed to playing sports in college. In addition, 114 seniors received 261 local scholarships valued at $184,627 from 91 sponsors – 23 are renewable for an additional one to three years, bringing the total value of the awards to a record-breaking $223,127.
“Now that it’s time to move on, we can take comfort in knowing that the experiences we’ve shared here, will help us to make decisions going forward into the future,” Love said. “I encourage you to always meet new people and to make new connections. … I will forever feel connected to this little town, where I’ve planted my roots and began to grow. But now I am ready to move on and I hope all of you are, too.”
Fellow valedictorian Logan Ritterbush’s speech touched on similar themes of how Stanwood has prepared this class to take on the world.
“These years are the ones that help us lay the framework for the people we will become,” he said. “And the experiences that we have had together during them will contribute to defining our response to the world for the rest of our lives.”
Ritterbush told the packed arena that life is about being in the community with others and creating memories.
“There are 7.7 billion interesting people out there, each one with incredible depth,” he said. “Through our high school experience, we have been prepared to connect with them.”
Salutatorian Lindsey Crawford said during her speech that sometimes, success isn’t defined by the final product.
“Success is the accumulation of all the things you did to get there,” she said. “It’s the hard work you put in to better yourself, your product and the people around you. I had to learn that I could survive failure, and that it wasn’t the end of that story. It was a small part of the big picture.”
Stanwood High principal Christine Del Pozo said she often hears the comment: “Things always happen to this class, the Class of 2019.”
The seniors have endured numerous changes this year, such as different locations to practice and play sports, new homes for extracurricular activities and even the school’s first-ever graduation away from Stanwood.
Some experiences were not related to construction, such as facing medical situations, struggling with passing classes, starting the school year late due to a teacher strike and missing seven days of school due to snow, she said.
“Your class has also experienced a number of positive things,” Del Pozo said to the crowd, citing Hi-Q taking first in the state and second place in the nation; Knowledge Bowl winning first place in state; the girls swim having the highest team GPA in the state at 3.878; Fire Service students placing at a state competition; and many other athletic accomplishments.
“Whatever it was that you experienced while in high school, you now have a clean slate and an opportunity to push on to your next success or challenge,” she said. “As Lily Tomlin put it, ‘The road to success is always under construction.’”