Tualatin High celebrates 2018 graduation
For Ernie Brown, this is it. The final robe and sash, the final recessional.
Tualatin High School's commencement ceremony Saturday night at Veteran's Memorial Coliseum serves as a capstone on the career of the soon-to-be-retired Superintendent of the Tigard-Tualatin School District; a career that began and remained in only one school district.
"It's bittersweet, but it's mostly sweet," he said before the ceremony began, sporting a Tualatin-maroon tie (it was a Tigard-green tie on Friday night). "I just love seeing these celebrations, going to the assemblies, seeing their accomplishments, celebrating their diversity. 'Inspiration' is the word I keep coming back to."
Friends and family, staff and faculty, and community members all poured into the coliseum for the ceremony. The Tualatin High Choir seniors and Crimsonnaires sang an Oregon-ironic version of J.K. Alwood's "Unclouded Day." Backstage, students milled about, arranging their robes and mortarboards, snapping photos and scarfing down cold pizza. Jessenia Hernandez Torres and Nina Sangkhatum stood under an awning outside the Coliseum, taking selfies as storm clouds bombarded the city, rain and even hail bouncing off the pavement. Nearby, Catalina Ferrer Martinez accepted a stuffed tiger from her sister. She's heading to Portland State University in the fall, she said.
Not so Abraham Romero. He's enlisted in the Navy, ships out Aug. 28, and plans to study submarine electronics. And just in case anyone forgot to ask, he decorated his mortarboard with a three-dimensional diving sub.
Eileen Elliot, soon to turn 90, was there to celebrate her grand-niece Annaliese Elliot, the second daughter in the family to graduate via the school's ambitious International Baccalaureate program. "She's quite amazing," her great-aunt said.
Inside "the bowl," as the floor of the coliseum is known, Susie Antonio and her daughter, Jaclyn Petrus, held up a massive sign to celebrate two graduates, Randy and Mauleen Petrus, the son and niece of Jaclyn. "They're going to perform!" Antonio beamed. "They'll do a Hawaiian dance. That's where we're from, the island! This is a very good day for us!"
As the processional neared, students — the largest graduating class in Tualatin's history — bobbed around backstage, giggling, hugging, adjusting tassels and cords. Right up until Flo Horne, head of school security, shouted, "All right! Everybody in line!" No microphone for her. Instantly, the scruffy scrum of teenage energy snapped to grid, lining up under the letters plastered to the walls.
Soon after, the teaching staff marched through to a rousing, riotous standing ovation from the students.
When the processional itself began, the students emerged from the bowels of the coliseum to their cheering friends and family, and the flash of photography. Some posed, some blushed. Some offered peace signs or funny faces and, surprisingly, not a few "Black Panther" Wakanda Forever hand gestures.