Editorial: Determination defined Class of 2022

As the Class of 2022 prepares to embark on brand new adventures, we hope they keep with them the same determination and courage that fueled them through the last four years.

What a rollercoaster the last four years have been, Class of 2022.

Here at The Beachcomber, we have covered what the graduating seniors’ high school journey has been like – from moving to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, switching to half days with remote learning and in-person learning in April 2021 for high schoolers, and then fully coming back to class in-person as of the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

This year’s graduating seniors have been through a difficult and unprecedented few years, and our community has watched how they persevered with determination and courage, living and learning throughout a pandemic that has morphed and changed but still continues on.

COVID-19 has hit us hard as a nation, and across the globe, and we need to acknowledge this reality as we recognize the Class of 2022’s accomplishments.

And so in celebrating Vashon’s graduating seniors, we must also celebrate those who have stood alongside the Class of 2022 throughout their educational journey.

Vashon’s teachers, paraeducators, specialists, coaches and mentors at Chautauqua Elementary School, McMurray Middle School, and Vashon Island High School have supported these students – some of whom have been attending Vashon schools since they were in kindergarten. These dedicated, talented professionals bring energy into their classrooms that enriches students’ lives for the better, and they have done so during the most difficult time imaginable.

The Vashon Schools Foundation has provided a multitude of opportunities for students throughout the district that has not only been an asset to this year’s seniors, but to all who call themselves Vashon Pirates.

We applaud the Schools Foundation’s funding for crucial social-emotional programs such as Vashon Artists in Schools, Journeymen, Sisterhood Circles and Sources of Strength. The Foundation has also made it possible for the district to partner with Vashon Youth & Family Services for counseling support and will, this fall, also support a new partnership with the Vashon Wilderness Program to provide exciting outdoor education experiences for district students.

Our community’s support for the Foundation is essential to the mental health and well-being of youth on Vashon.

For those graduating, the Vashon Community Scholarship Foundation (VCSF) has also been crucial. Since 1986, VCSF has raised more than $3 million in scholarships for Vashon graduates. This year, thanks to generous donors, $208,860 was awarded to the class of 2022 — well done to this year’s 104 scholarship recipients.

We are excited to see what happens next — because, after all, the word “commencement” means “beginning.” Graduation marks the beginning, not the end, of a race.

To all the graduates, whether they may be taking a gap year, continuing their education, enlisting in the military or planning something else entirely, we at The Beachcomber applaud them as they stand not on the finishing line of high school, but rather, on the starting line of whatever comes next.

The Class of 2022 has also, in their own words, written about their plans after graduation, their favorite high school activities and their fondest memories. Read about the graduates in the B section of this issue.

As the Class of 2022 prepares to embark on brand new adventures, we hope they keep with them the same determination and courage that fueled them through the last four years. We must, as a community, continue to cheer them on.

We hope the spirit of this island accompanies them, in whatever they do next.