ACES, Kamiak, and Mariner seniors earn diplomas

Nearly 1,000 Mukilteo students graduated last week
By Brandon Gustafson | Jun 20, 2018
Photo by: Brandon Gustafson Kyle Yonke is extremely excited to earn his diploma and wrap up his high school career.

Tassels were moved, gowns were worn, and caps flew high last week as nearly 1,000 Mukilteo students graduated from high school.

Seniors from ACES, Kamiak, and Mariner high schools received their diplomas from their respective schools at their commencement ceremonies.

ACES’ commencement was last Thursday, June 14, at the ACES campus, and Kamiak and Mariner’s ceremonies were Friday, June 15, at the Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett.

In total, 948 Mukilteo students graduated. Kamiak boasted the largest class with 457 graduates, Mariner had 442 graduates, and ACES had 49.

ACES principal Amy Montayne-Johnson was very happy with her graduating class.

“This was my first year as principal at ACES High School,” she said. “These students are amazing people who worked hard in order to make sure they earned their diploma. They welcomed me into their community, and I am a better person for having the opportunity to meet them.”

According to Montayne-Johnson, of the 49 ACES students who walked last week, 11 attended the Mukilteo School District since kindergarten, two have become parents while finishing high school, 15 have been working while finishing high school, 18 are either the first or one of the first in their families to graduate high school, 25 will be working following graduation, and 20 have plans to continue their education at either a two- or four-year college or technical school.

“I cannot wait to see where the future takes them all,” Montayne-Johnson said.

On Friday, Kamiak held the first commencement ceremony, and welcomed the 25th graduating class in the school’s history.

Joey Schafer, chosen by his classmates to speak at the ceremony, gave thanks to those who helped him on his journey through school.

“Thank you to all of the amazing staff that we have here at Kamiak, and our absolutely wonderful teachers,” Schafer said. “They have helped us learn not only their subjects, and how to survive the gauntlets of standardized testing, but also have shown us by example how to live successful lives and be contributing members of society. I would also like to thank all of our parents and families, as I am sure that without them, we would not be walking across this stage.”

Schafer also told his classmates not to be afraid of taking risks or making mistakes, as that’s the only way to help change the world.

“The future, and the big world into which we are now entering, is also not perfect, and can be scary,” Schafer said. “It is unknown and sometimes feels so full of ugliness it can be overwhelming and disheartening. But we as a class, as individuals, get to decide how we want to interact with that world, and can help shape society.  We have an opportunity, and even a responsibility, to engage and better our world.”

Ally de la Cruz was the staff-selected speaker.  A state champion wrestler over her four-year career at Kamiak, de la Cruz talked about some of the adversity she faced in wrestling while dealing with injuries, and how that applies to the real world.

“Life will knock you down all of the time, but you must get back up,” de la Cruz said. “Use your own strength or your family’s strength: it doesn’t matter. Just get back up. Fight for what you want. Stay motivated. Stay determined.”

This was also the last commencement ceremony for Kamiak principal Mike Gallagher, who is retiring after 10 years in that position.

“I have been told the average lifespan of a principal is six years in one building. It’s no wonder then that four years ago, I began to hear the question, ‘Are you retiring this year?’” Gallagher said. “Although I pondered that thought at every school year’s end, the answer was always, ‘Not yet.’

“As I look upon the faces of this class, the class of 2018, the last that I have seen grow from wide-eyed freshmen to sage seniors, I know that I made the right decision to stay and the right decision to leave with you, now.”

Kamiak also had performances from their band, led by Toby Bathurst, and some senior choir members sang, “This Is Me” from the movie “The Greatest Showman.”

Senior Class President Peter Kim led the moving of the tassels for the new Kamiak grads.

Mariner principal Nate DuChesne opened Mariner’s ceremony, noting that the 442 graduates were the 47th graduating class from Mariner, and that graduates had earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in academic and athletic scholarships.

DuChesne also asked the students to stand if they were going to be attending either a four-year university, a two-year community college, or joining the military or the workforce immediately after graduation, and was pleased to see nearly all the students stand up.

Mariner had a performance from their band, led by Christopher Angelos, and also presented musical performances from Joshua Thompson, who sang, “This is not Goodbye” and from Mariner’s Avant Blues, who performed “My Wish.”

Ethan Stanback, Mariner’s Senior Class President, led the moving of the tassels to a loud ovation before joining his fellow graduates in throwing their caps in the air.


Dennis Mach celebrates after receiving his diploma. (Photo by: Brandon Gustafson)
ACES students who were awarded scholarships getting their time in the limelight. (Photo by: Amy Montayne-Johnson)
Mariner principal Nate DuChesne delivers a speech to start the 2018 commencement ceremony. (Photo by: Brandon Gustafson)
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