Community salutes graduates | Graduation 2010 slideshow

The Mercer Island class of 2010 stood before hundreds of family and friends last Thursday evening at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle to say goodbye, and thank you. The 328-member class is the 53rd to graduate from Mercer Island High School.

Accompanied by the high school orchestra, the grads smiled and waved to family and friends as they processed in. Parents and siblings scurried up and back from their seats to take photos of their grad as they made their way to the dais. There was hooting and cheering and even an air horn blast to acknowledge one grad.

The graduates represent the kind of group that Islanders have come to expect from their high school. There are academic achievers, athletes and artists. There are National Merit scholars and AP scholars, talented musicians and amazing student athletes. Half of the graduates this year are ranked within the top 10 percent of all 2010 Washington State high school graduates. In total, literally thousands of hours of community service were performed by the class.

All but a handful of have plans to attend college this fall.

The awarding of the diplomas was divided into three sets with speakers and student performances in between. All awards were already given out in the days prior, with the majority awarded on Thursday morning at the annual senior breakfast.

The highlight of the event was the musical performances of four talented and poised Islander grads who each stood alone to perform: Lexie Showalter who stood up to sing the National Anthem with only a few minutes notice to prepare; Ethan Batson, who played the ukulele and sang an Irish folk song; Brita Moore, who performed a classical piece by Bach on the cello; and Ethan Young, who played the guitar and sang a piece by Fleetwood Mac.

Speakers at the event talked of the challenges that lie ahead.

School Board member Adair Dingle, an associate professor in the College of Science and Engineering at Seattle University, spoke of how the new graduates will have to deal with the interpretation and application of the deluge of data that will shape their lives to come.

The five valedictorians of the class of 2010, Aaron Azose, Ella Mathews, Alisa Owens, Martina Unutzer and Brian Williamson, shared the stage to talk of Socrates and his ancient but still germane philosophy that a wise person realizes that he or she knows little and always has more to learn. Teacher Chris Twombley spoke of dreams, recited poetry but also had practical advice for grads reminding them to stay focused. “Ignoring those obligations won’t make them go away,” he told the grads. He listed the bittersweet remembrances that will remain with those left behind. “Teachers will think,” he said, “’did we do enough for them. Will they remember us?’”

The words of class speaker Hap Giraud touched on his regret of not always meeting the high expectations of teachers and peers. He also noted what will be left behind. “Here, every day we see someone who wishes us well.”

After graduation, the class loaded up on buses and headed to an all-night celebration planned and paid for by high school parents.

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