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Corbett High School class of 2020 gets their diplomas in a festive ceremony capped by fireworks

COURTESY PHOTOS: KAREN HAWLEY - Corbett High Schools June 20 graduation ended with a bang — a Cardinal red fireworks display.

High school graduations were a mixed bag this year because of pandemic restrictions, but tiny Corbett pulled out all the stops and threw a spectacular commencement ceremony that ended with a fireworks display.

"Corbett really exceeded our expectations of what graduation would be like," said Jacqueline Carrillo Contreras, a valedictorian.

"I was really disappointed about the end of the school year," she said, but the graduation event "was more than we ever would have expected."

The 98 graduating Cardinals got their diplomas on Saturday, June 20.

COURTESY PHOTOS: KAREN HAWLEY - Valedictorian Mya Peterson celebrates her graduation in the parade from Troutdale to the Corbett School District campus for the big event.

The evening event began with a parade starting at 7 p.m. in Troutdale and winding up to the Corbett Schools campus. Cars with grads and families parked in the big parking lot in front of the school.

A giant screen was set up so those in the far reaches of the lot could see the action. The event was live streamed for folks who could not attend. The school asked that social distancing be observed and masks be worn when people were not in their cars.

There were speeches, scholarship announcements and starting around 9 p.m. diplomas were awarded. That was followed by a slide show featuring the class of 2020 and then the fireworks.

COURTESY PHOTOS: KAREN HAWLEY - Jacqueline Carrillo Contreras, a valedictorian, gives her speech. She called the improvised pandemically-proper Corbett graduation amazing.

"The overwhelming feedback from the parents was that this was the best graduation ever, including non-covid," said Kathy Childress, the new principal at Corbett High School.

Superintendent "Randy Trani had a vision and we found a way to make it happen," Childress said.

"The community was incredibly cooperative and supportive, and we could not have done it without them. This is a major milestone for parents and students, and we didn't want to let the pandemic take that away from them," Childress said.

COURTESY PHOTOS: KAREN HAWLEY - Corbett School District set up a big screen so folks all over the parking lot could see the action on the stage. Here Valedictorian Sydney Smith is giving her speech.

Trani and high school principal Phil Pearson are leaving the district with a bang.

Trani, who has been superintendent for the district since 2009, resigned to become the superintendent of the much larger Mantanuska-Susitna Borough School District in Palmer, Alaska, beginning Aug. 3.

Corbett High School Principal Phil Pearson took a job as the principal of Woodland High School in Woodland, Wash.

The graduates were thankful for the extra effort organizers put in to the ceremony.

"We are all really grateful," Carrillo Contreras said. The Troutdale resident is headed to Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon in the fall.

Carrillo Contreras added she especially appreciated the ability of "all our graduating class to be together at one time, to walk across the stage. It was really amazing."



The pictures of the Corbett graduation are courtesy of photographer Karen J. Hawley.

For more of her photos, turn to Page A3.

She also does portraits and weddings. She can be reached through her website, Facebook or Instagram pages:;; instagram @karenjhawleyphotography

Thanks Karen!

COURTESY PHOTOS: KAREN HAWLEY - Some graduating Corbett seniors and their pals wait for the action to start.

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