Vashon High School seniors Wyatt Heit (left) and Evan Noonan (right) celebrate graduation by popping the corks off sparkling apple cider bottles. (Kent Phelan photo)

Vashon High School seniors Wyatt Heit (left) and Evan Noonan (right) celebrate graduation by popping the corks off sparkling apple cider bottles. (Kent Phelan photo)

Rainy send-off, special guest for Vashon High School class of 2017

  • Tuesday, June 20, 2017 10:15am
  • News

On Saturday night, the 140 graduates of Vashon High School’s class of 2017 were recognized at the Vashon High School stadium during an unseasonably cold rainstorm. The rain did not dampen the spirits of the students who showed their personalities as they paired up after receiving diplomas onstage and broke out props such as fizzy apple cider bottles and champagne flutes, flags, beach balls and Silly String.

The school’s graduation traditions continued with the recognition of the Pieces of Eight award recipients and two students shared the valedictorian title.

A special part of this year’s ceremony was former islander Mary Matsuda Gruenewald who received her Vashon High School diploma with the class of 2017 at the age of 92, 74 years after the Japanese internment forced her and her family to the Tule Lake Concentration Camp in California. It was there that she finished high school. VHS principal Danny Rock recognized her Saturday for her many accomplishments, including those she made as a nurse, and thanked her for telling her story.

“Mary, you may think that we’re doing something special for you today, and that may be so, but the deeper truth is that you are giving us a gift rarely given: The gift of time, the gift of life and the gift of hope that whatever our story includes, whatever challenges we face in our past and in our future, our story is not over,” he said.

To see more photos of the graduation ceremony from island photographer Kent Phelan, click here.




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A Vashon High School graduate ducks under an umbrella to be recognized during a bout of rain at Saturday’s graduation ceremony. (Kent Phelan photo)

A Vashon High School graduate ducks under an umbrella to be recognized during a bout of rain at Saturday’s graduation ceremony. (Kent Phelan photo)

Two Vashon High School students shared the valedictorian title. Aryeh Stahl (at podium) and Aria Garrett both graduated with 4.0 GPAs and gave a speech Saturday about name mispronunciations; appreciation for teachers, families and friends; life lessons; beautiful people and making a difference. (Jim Westcott Photo)

Two Vashon High School students shared the valedictorian title. Aryeh Stahl (at podium) and Aria Garrett both graduated with 4.0 GPAs and gave a speech Saturday about name mispronunciations; appreciation for teachers, families and friends; life lessons; beautiful people and making a difference. (Jim Westcott Photo)

The Vashon High School Pieces of Eight Award recipients (from left to right) Jesse Harold, David Nguyen, Hannah McArthur, Issac Hughes, Eleanor Hughes, Eva Anderson, Abby Fiano and Peytra Gard were recognized for their embodiment of values such as commitment, leadership and integrity. (Jim Westcott Photo)

The Vashon High School Pieces of Eight Award recipients (from left to right) Jesse Harold, David Nguyen, Hannah McArthur, Issac Hughes, Eleanor Hughes, Eva Anderson, Abby Fiano and Peytra Gard were recognized for their embodiment of values such as commitment, leadership and integrity. (Jim Westcott Photo)

A Vashon high School senior gets a piggyback ride from a friend after receiving her diploma Saturday evening. (Kent Phelan photo)

A Vashon high School senior gets a piggyback ride from a friend after receiving her diploma Saturday evening. (Kent Phelan photo)

Mary Matsuda Gruenewald and her son, Ray Gruenewald, at the Vashon High School graduation Saturday. Mary received her VHS diploma 74 years after the Japanese-American internment prevented it. (Kent Phelan Photo)

Mary Matsuda Gruenewald and her son, Ray Gruenewald, at the Vashon High School graduation Saturday. Mary received her VHS diploma 74 years after the Japanese-American internment prevented it. (Kent Phelan Photo)

A group of VHS students, including Eva Anderson, Issac Hughes and Eleanor Hughes, toast graduation with apple cider after receiving their diplomas Saturday. (Kent Phelan Photo)

A group of VHS students, including Eva Anderson, Issac Hughes and Eleanor Hughes, toast graduation with apple cider after receiving their diplomas Saturday. (Kent Phelan Photo)

Graduating VHS seniors walk away from the stage Saturday with rainbow Pride flags. (Kent Phelan Photo)

Graduating VHS seniors walk away from the stage Saturday with rainbow Pride flags. (Kent Phelan Photo)

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