Hello and welcome to the Inside Vancouver Public Schools podcast. I’m Steve Webb, superintendent of Vancouver Public Schools.

This episode is just a glimpse at the class of 2019. Approximately 1,400 students recently walked across the stage to receive diplomas. The class of 2019 includes two students appointed to military academies and 86 students who earned associate degrees at the same time as their high school diploma. Collectively, this year’s graduates earned an impressive $16.6 million in scholarship money.

I caught up with several grads right before their commencement ceremonies.

As you’d expect, the ceremonies are a mix of elation and a little sadness. Here are Nathan Boyer and Jorge Hernandez from Fort Vancouver, followed by Will Buss from Columbia River.

Nathan Boyer: I’m really happy about it.

Jorge Hernandez: Honestly, I’m happy about it, but then at the same time it’s sad, because I’ve been used to this my whole life. It’s different when you’re walking out, but you’re going into kind of a different world, but it’s the same.

Will Buss: It’s a big stage. You gotta go up there, get the diploma, but once I get it, I’m feeling good. I’m ready.

I asked a few grads to share some of their positive memories of their time in school. Here’s Deon Jack from Skyview, followed by Mai Vo from Bay and Erin Besteman from River.

Deon Jack: My teachers for sure. They’ve helped me a lot through the experience to get to where I’m at now.

Mai Vo: I think Color War is really fun. It gets everyone together. Shows a lot of school spirit, and that’s what we like here at Bay.

Erin Besteman: Thirteen years in. All in the Vancouver Public Schools. So good. It was a great time, but ready to move on. Ready for UW. Go dawgs, baby! Really excited.

Graduation is the time to celebrate all the hard work. Here’s Faith Arafat from Bay.

Faith Arafat: My mom’s really excited because I’m the first one in the family to graduate.

For Joseph Ike from Skyview, it’s also a celebration of the start of that next step.

Joseph Ike: Clark Community College. The diesel tech program. Applied technologies is my plan.

Principal Val Seeley of Hudson’s Bay describes what this moment means.

Val Seeley: These guys have overcome a lot of obstacles. A lot of them worked hard, pulled it off at the end. Here we are, and everybody that was on the edge is walking across the stage proudly today because they earned it.

Graduations are a cause for celebration and a source of pride—for everyone. So congratulations to the entire class of 2019, and also kudos to the families, teachers, coaches, staff and community members who mentored and supported them in reaching this milestone.

If you’d like to watch some of the recent graduations, head over to YouTube and check out the VanSD TV channel.

Thank you for tuning in. Take care.

Image: Steve's signature