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.