LOWER YAKIMA VALLEY — As the academic year of 2020 draws to a close, Grandview, Granger, and Zillah High Schools have said farewell to their seniors by unconventional though necessary means via virtual graduation and parades to maintain social distancing guidelines.

GRANDVIEW HIGH SCHOOL

Grandview High School released a pre-recorded graduation video complete with speeches from Principal Kim Casey, Class Speaker Ryan Harvey – GHS social studies teacher – Salutatorian Christin Alvarez, Valedictorian Rocco Parrish, and Superintendent Henry Strom.

In Alvarez’s speech, she mentions how distinguished the Class of 2020 is due to the students’ hardships and challenges they’ve endured due to being born near the 9/11 terror attacks, Great Recession, and now, a pandemic. She reassured the class, “We find the glory in our obstacles,” a reference to French poet Moliere.

Parrish was “at a loss for words” during his speech, but he found his voice, “Let’s talk about the memories that cannot be taken away from us,” as photos from school highlights were presented. “We are 2020 strong.”

The Greyhound’s graduation ended with a photo slideshow of the 245 seniors.

GRANGER HIGH SCHOOL

Granger High School’s virtual graduation presented their 91 seniors in their cap and gowns, walking across the indoor stage followed by speeches from Salutatorian Reesah Garza and Valedictorian Israel Betancourt.

Both Betancourt and Garza spoke of the challenges 2020 has presented but provided some hope in their final words. Betancourt stressed that challenges were something the Spartans have always overcome and to “remember to stay strong.” Garza urged her fellow class to “use your light to make a difference” and to sign petitions against police brutality.

On the evening of June 12, Granger celebrated with a parade and a flower ceremony. Principal Michael Carlson stated “One of their traditions is to give the class flower to someone who helped them graduate. They continued that this year with the rose as their class flower.”

ZILLAH HIGH SCHOOL

Zillah High School worked diligently with the Department of Health to provide their students with a ceremony as close to traditional as possible.

Principal Mike Torres stated he and the Zillah District wanted to ensure a plan that met all criteria set by the Department of Health from the onset so they devised a diploma distribution plan that was filmed for families to watch and a car parade.

Speeches were also delivered in a pre-recorded fashion by Principal Mike Torres, Superintended Doug Burge, Salutatorian Kiri Schoonover, Valedictorian Kyle Fergus, and Co-Valedictorian David Grigg.

The speeches given by the three Leopards were filled with words of encouragement. Schoonover stated in her speech, “Our lives don’t end here, they’re just starting.” Fergus found a silver lining in that the school closure gave them a gift of time to decompress and Grigg relayed a moving story of how he and his father hiked to the summit of Mt. Adams and how its challenges and rewards were not unlike the challenges and rewards of high school.

The ceremony was followed by a car parade that was filled with the smiles and joy of seniors celebrating a job well done.

MABTON HIGH SCHOOL

Mabton High School began their amended graduation celebration as Valedictorian Jesus Mata released his speech on the Mabton School District’s social media page on Friday, June 12, and the page will continue to deliver speeches every Friday until a drive-thru ceremony in August.

Mata expressed his love for Mabton and how this “little town” gave him the best years of his life. “We can’t choose where we are from, but we can choose where we go from there,” the young man spoke in a recording from his bedroom.

SUNNYSIDE CHRISTIAN HIGH SCHOOL

Sunnyside Christian High School began their graduation ceremony on Tuesday, June 16 and Wednesday, June 17, as Principal Dean Wagnaar personally delivers diplomas door to door for the 21 graduates.

Wagnaar confirmed that a virtual organization will be hosted through the Josten’s platform and will be shown on Friday, June 26, at 7 p.m.

Elizabeth Sustaita can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 114 or email esustaita@sunnysidesun.com.

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