Over the past weekend Willapa Harbor area high schools held their commencement ceremonies for the graduating classes of 2015.
South Bend seniors took advantage of a Friday night ceremony, which was followed up on Saturday with Raymond's afternoon celebration and Willapa Valley holding off until the early evening.
In traditional manner the ceremonies were performed with senior slide shows depicting the growth of each student through time up to the graduating year showing their involvement in the community, their friends, family and their interests.
Raymond and Willapa Valley showed their presentations during the seating of the audience prior to the festivities. South Bend showed their presentation at the end with the seniors turning around or sitting with friends to enjoy the show. The graduating classes accounted for 22 graduates from Willapa Valley High School, 31 from South Bend and 37 graduates from Raymond.
Speeches from each class Valedictorians and Salutatorians spoke of the past and future of the graduating class some with special emphasis on life growing up together in a small community and the future that they hope to have in the larger world. Others took time to reflect on how their life has been like the challenge of a maze, with each turn in the maze another challenge in life growing up. All spoke of how amazing a life that they have had in their communities and the surrounding towns with the friendly rivalries between schools.
Each class also took time to hand out flowers to family and friends during the ceremonies and the emotion of the event took many by surprise as tears of joy started to show from parents and students.
Scholarships were a big deal with an estimated over 2 million dollars awarded to seniors from all three schools. Several small scholarships were awarded form local businesses and foundations up to $20,000 and $40,000 scholarships.
In Raymond alone a program that was started with the 2015 graduating class in the eighth grade has the possibility for 29 of the 37 graduating seniors to get up to $40,000 each from the Washington College Bound Scholarship program. Students had to sign a contract back in the 2010-2011 school year and had to adhere to a set of rules like maintaining a specific grade point average and performance of being a good citizen, to qualify. Those signing the contract had to maintained that level from the eighth grade until their graduation year.
In South Bend one student, Angelica Meliton, the South Bend Salutatorian, was awarded the Gates Millennium Scholarship and will be taking her award to the University of Washington to pursue a career in medicine.
At Valley an ongoing scholarship was awarded to two previous graduates of WVHS a special award for those previous graduates who are still maintaining their goals from high school graduation.
Futures and careers of the graduating classes are mix and varied from looking for employment right away to military service and continued education.
The future does look bright for all of the graduating seniors this year from Raymond, South Bend and Willapa Valley, as they are now entering the next level of their life to continue with their story that began just a few kids.