'You have so much to offer the world'
On Wednesday, June 8, 13 seniors from Art Tech welcomed a new chapter in their lives as they turned their tassel and graduated.
Although a moment of accomplishment and excitement for the students, it was also bittersweet as the school will officially close its doors after 17 years due to the impending opening of a new third-option high school, Riverside, which will serve a similar function to Art Tech on a larger scale.
Last year, staff and students moved to Wilsonville High School to take classes after the district ended its lease on its former building near Wilsonville City Hall. Principal Nic Chapin said that the students "built a home" in the new space.
"You created this special community for Art Tech … I will miss our deep conversations about how we're going to save the world. It has been an absolute joy to work with you. You have taught us so much about how to continuously integrate many of the great Art Tech attributes and carry those forward into the future," Chapin said. "You've all taught me so much about community, the power of a team and the courage just to show up every day. You have so much to offer this world."
Superintendent Kathy Ludwig read a quote from environmentalist and author David Orr: "The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage, willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane and these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it."
"Graduates of Arts and Technology High School, you are exactly the people that David Orr is describing," Ludwig said.
Ludwig also presented two students with a superintendent scholarship that she grants to students who will attend university in the next year. The students submitted essays on what they wanted to do when they are older and their hopes for the world.
Michelle Quinn and Cooper Buffington were awarded $2,000 each. The students wrote about wanting to make our society more resource-efficient, and advocate for "developing countries as they bear the brunt of climate change."
A special twist that the school offers to each graduating student is to have a staff member honor them with a heartfelt speech about how they have impacted Art Tech over the years. Students were recognized for their impact on the school, friends, staff and themselves.
"You have each grown and proven to yourself that you can do hard things, that you can show up and you can make a difference," said learning specialist Kate Gaede.
As the ceremony ended, the students turned their tassels and walked off the stage with "We are the Champions" by Queen following them out.
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