The Wildcat family spent their ceremonial evening reflecting, embracing and looking forward to the future.
Nearly 300 students sat in the audience, waiting for the final chapter of their high school experience to come to a close during the event June 6 at the Rolling Hills Community Church in Tualatin.
Nathan Tidball took students back in time and reflected on all four years of high school during his speech "Looking Back."
"In high school, we're not here for selfish reasons simply to get money and recognitions, popularity and good grades. We are here to leave a legacy of happiness and hope upon everyone we meet," Tidball said. "Class of 2019, we have left our mark. Together we have won league and state championships, we have built robots and published papers, we have learned new instruments and languages and passions. We have led our teams to victory, we have achieved greatness together and now with a clean slate, the world is ours."
Madeline Diehl delivered the "Living in the Moment" address and encouraged students to focus on the present because even though the small details are sure to fade, she said, graduation night will be remembered.
"Tonight we receive the acknowledgement of our graduation but no piece of paper or funny hat can fully encapsulate all these little moments that, when taken together, form this experience we call high school," Diehl said. "As the saying goes, people will forget what you say and what you do, but they will remember how you made them feel. Tonight we capture the feelings of the last four years of anxiety, of triumph and most of all, of community."
Valedictorian Mia Kassab left students thinking about their future during her "Looking Forward" speech.
Kassab said high school has helped prepare students for discovering their purpose, and she reminded students to embrace the unknown future without fear because there are many paths to success.
"Our time at Wilsonville High School has not defined who we are. It has allowed us to define who we will become," Kassab said. "We have pushed each other to become the best possible versions of ourselves and, for that reason, we are not the same people who first walked into Wilsonville high school 1,375 days ago. We are better, stronger and more ambitious, and although there is no way of telling what the future may hold for us, we must trust that it will all work out in the end."
For Leslie James, mother of graduate Brooklyn James, she said watching her daughter walk across the stage was bittersweet.
"I'm so happy for her and all of her achievements. She's had a fantastic four years at Wilsonville High School and she has grown up and matured," James said. "She's ready to move on. I'm super proud of her, and at the same time, I can't believe how fast time has gone by. Where did the years go?"
Before students turned their tassels, marking the end of a significant chapter of their lives, West Linn-Wilsonville Superintendent Kathy Ludwig made an analogy between The Oregon Trail computer game and the students' trek into the real world.
"The participants did learn about the historic trail in an engaging way, but they also learned important dispositions and mindsets that we could apply to the real world," Ludwig said. "For example, in the game you're presented with realistic roadblocks or challenges and you must decide what to do next to make it safely to your destination.
"Similarly in our real world, we are presented with challenges that require critical thinking, trial and error, adaptability and resilience. … Today you may not die of dysentery, but pushing ahead so fast and furious in life does have its consequences. In the real world, decisions in life have implications and impacts."
Ludwig encouraged students to create their own narrative and learn through their decisions.
WL-WV School Board Chair Ginger Fitch and Principal Dan Schumaker gave powerful speeches that spoke to the character of the students.
"I think the way you care is what I will most remember about you. Please take a moment and look at your classmates," Schumaker said. "A wonderful thing about public education is that you truly represent your community. You are Wilsonville, statistically, diversely, beautifully. You are Wilsonville."
Schumaker emboldened the graduates to embrace diversity and seek experiences that broaden them and give them exposure to different cultures and ideas.
"Big life choices, legitimate life choices, necessary choices, can result in less time spent with groups that right now you see every day. There's a richness to the variety of experiences represented by this class," he said. "Tonight, I'm a very proud principal."