Folding chairs spaced 6 feet apart, a podium set to center stage, and family members carrying flowers and balloons filled the Battle Ground Public Schools stadium each evening last week as a different high school held a graduation ceremony to commemorate its seniors.
The Prairie High School class of 2021 included 343 students who graduated on Thursday, June 10. The class recognized Kylee Lemmon, Caden McCray and Annalise Newberry as its valedictorians and Sharon Dao was named the salutatorian.
“Your parents, family, friends and teachers are so proud of you today, although some may not be able to say it today because of the restrictions,” Lemmon said during her valedictorian speech. “It’s clear to see, even with the masks, all the excitement that everyone has here.”
Commencement speaker Britt Pedlar was nominated by his students to give the annual graduation speech.
“What can I say to a graduating class who just pioneered a pandemic?” Pedlar, the PHS culinary arts teacher, said. “I think something along the lines of a job well done. We’re all so proud of you and most importantly, did that actually just happen?”
Other BGPS high schools also held in-person events. Battle Ground High School walked 340 students across the stage on June 11. Six students earned the valedictorian title, including Gage Hay, Kaelyn White, Alexander Forstrom, Gabrielle Steinbrenner, Lane Landas and Mallory Cowl.
River HomeLink had 109 students graduate with Drew Rachor named valedictorian, while Alyssa Zoller and Cvetana Ilic were distinguished as salutatorians.
CAM Academy welcomed 43 students to the stage on June 9. Michelle Li, Seth Denfeld and Taylor Nielsen were recognized as valedictorians and Rand Karlsen as salutatorian. The last ceremony was for Summit View High School on June 15 with 110 graduates.
Community members also celebrated the seniors by cheering at drive-thru parades leading up to the ceremonies. Students rode in cars and trucks, waving to those standing on the street. Some seniors decorated their vehicles with streamers, balloons and car paint.
Schools in the surrounding area will host ceremonies as well, including La Center High School which will graduate 107 students. Those interested can watch the ceremony at 7 p.m. on June 19.
Ridgefield High School had 211 students graduate this year on June 11 with live streaming available.
Woodland High School celebrated 140 seniors during its graduation ceremony on June 11, and awarded students in the top 5 percent, including Caleb Moaut, Ruby Heidgerken and Annika McCarty.