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Bayview High bids farewell to the Class of 2008

BAYVIEW — A mom, a jock, a romantic, a ballerina, a tech wizard, a Columbian power house, a culinary master, a nurturer, a quiet soul, a world traveler, the eye of justice, a Bayview legacy, a lemonade maker, a perfect storm and the fearless one.

They are brilliant, talented individuals and together they are Bayview School’s Class

of 2008.

Under sunny skies, 15 students graduated from Bayview School in an outdoor ceremony behind Bayview Hall Thursday.

Class speaker Thomas Skaggs said the graduates are a strong unit.

“They say two dolphins make a heart,” Skaggs said. “We are one of the dolphins, Bayview is the other.”

With the support of their Bayview family, Skaggs and his fellow students grew into the people that they will now be in their lives after high school, he said.

“So we stand before you today not for the path in front of us, but we stand before you because of the path behind us,” Skaggs added.

It wasn’t the easiest journey for most. As teachers and friends introduced the graduates, they shared stories about crushed dreams, emotional challenges, family tragedies, being bullied and having to cut ties to bad influences.

But they also shared stories about big dreams, brilliant artists, thinkers and technicians who have found their way.

“Each and every one of these young men and women has shown more courage than most of us muster in a lifetime,” said Scott Mauk, Bayview School’s director.

Mauk pointed to Ahren Bader-Jarvis, a talented photographer and musician, who amazed everyone at the school with his talents.

He said Bader-Jarvis demonstrated integrity and strength beyond his years when he was criticized for performing a controversial song about a soldier at a talent show. Because young children were present, parents became offended, but Bader-Jarvis took responsibility, apologized and explained that it was simply a song about peace.

Then there was Ashley Cottrell, who battled sickness during her senior year, but emerged strong and triumphant with a diploma in her hands at the end of the year. She had fulfilled all her academic requirements.

“Ashley has come a very long way in a very short time,” Mauk said.

“I often think of Xena, the warrior princess, when she steps in to help others,” said former Bayview teacher Dianne MoonDancer.

Mauk said graduate Brittany Falso, a talented dancer who will attend Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, had learned to go “beneath the surface” in her senior year.

“It appears to me that this was a liberating move for Brittany,” he said.

Also among the graduates was Carrie Garrison, who had two full-time jobs on her way to graduation — mother and student.

MoonDancer said Garrison never wavered during her journey, no matter how tough it was.

“This young woman shines,” MoonDancer said.

And even Joshua, Garrison’s young son, was recognized.

“Carrie is an excellent mom,” MoonDancer said. “He is beautiful, intelligent and very lucky. She understands the art of relationships.”

Bayview volunteer Sue Haworth said Garrison has been an inspiration.

“She has been the teacher, not the other way around,” she said.

While Garrison faced her challenges, Martha Gil-Osorio fought the demons within. She is a talented artist, athlete and student and was often her own worst enemy, Mauk said.

“Her hurdle has been to give herself the love and support she deserves,” he said.

Another student who has come a long way was Shandon Holbron. She navigated through the social challenges of school life with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism characterized by difficulties in social interaction and by restricted, stereotyped interests and activities.

Teachers recognized her dependability and called her a lovable, brilliant but quiet soul.

Emily Jones accomplished what may be the hardest task a student could encounter. In order to realize herself, she chose to cut ties to the people that held her back, Mauk said.

After she accomplished the work needed for graduation, her efforts will be rewarded as she travels to Europe, he said.

Nate Lennon’s teachers acknowledged the graduate as a man with a deep sense of social justice.

“Nate stands up for what is morally correct. He stands up for the underdog,” Jorn Aronson said.

Mary Linclau, the third sister to graduate from Bayview, is a Bayview legacy.

Mauk said she is fiercely independent and annoyingly stubborn — but she had a strong will to succeed.

“She is the first [sister] to graduate from high school on time,” he said.

Melissa Littlefield, who will go into nursing, morphed from a shy student into a graceful risktaker at Bayview, her teachers said, adding that this combination will take her far.

The sky is the limit for the graduates. That was a repeating theme at the ceremony. And it appeared that the universe agreed during the sunny outdoor ceremony.

As MoonDancer recalled how graduate Devon Romero’s dreams of being a military pilot were crushed due to a medical issue, a bald eagle soared above the crowd.

MoonDancer called Romero a lemonade maker, because every lemon that life threw at him he turned into lemonade. Romero, who plans to be a precision machinist, worked hard to overcome his challenges, she said, and is now ready for the world.

Mauk added that Romero was often bullied before he came to Bayview, but that he found a safe place at Bayview.

Skaggs was recognized for his expert cooking skills and how he translates a passion into something that helps the community.

Haworth recalled how he had prepared emergency kits for Bayview and deeply cares about healthy organic food and supporting local growers.

Her teachers called Angelica Takacs a romantic.

“She is drawn to beauty and she draws out the beauty in others,” Suzuki said.

Takacs is a poet, horseback rider and artist.

Jesse VanBenschoten, a gifted football player, also found success at Bayview after leaving South Whidbey High School.

“There are a lot of balls flying at us,” Eric Hood said. “Some of which we will catch, some of which we will fumble and some will hit you in the side of your head and knock you down.”

That’s when people should look at VanBenschoten, Hood said.

“Ask yourself, what would Jesse do,” he said.

Kaylene Varney rounded out the group of graduates.

Mauk said when Varney arrived at Bayview she had storms raging inside her but since has excelled academically and has healed emotionally.

After lauding his students, Mauk found himself with a cap on his head and a speech being held in his honor.

Mauk, who will be the assistant principal at the elementary school next year, was sent off by students and co-workers as their honorary Bayview graduate.

In the emotional goodbye, Suzuki said her friend is a visionary with a passion for the job.

“Scott lives from the heart,” she said. “And he will remain in the heart of Bayview.” MoonDancer said Mauk was a rock to the Bayview school. “He has left a legacy that will not die.

“I would personally trust you with my life,” she said. “Our hearts will be with you and those lucky little kids.”

Drew Kampion, a local surf

writer, was the graduation speaker.

“Life is a wave,” he told the graduates. “As a matter of fact you’re already pretty good surfers.”

And just like a big wave, life may pound the graduates.

“But with some natural intelligence inside, you will adjust,” Kampion said.

He acknowledged the graduate’s positive attitude and said that they have proven that they can handle just about anything.

“Your attitude is your surfboard,” Kampion said. “You’ve got gratitude. That’s the right attitude.”

And then Kampion sent the graduates off in true surfer fashion.

“Never worry — it’s a total waste of energy,” he said.

After nearly three hours, the proud graduates received what they had worked for so hard — that very important piece of paper, their diplomas.

School District Superintendent Fred McCarthy, Mauk and several school board members handed them their diplomas as friends and families cheered.

Michaela Marx Wheatley can be reached at 221-5300 or mmarx

wheatley@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

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