Teachers and speakers at the Orcas High School graduation ceremony had one primary observation about the class of 2019: it is filled with students who care about each other and the world around them.
Teacher Paula Towne said the class was a “moral compass” for faculty and students alike, fostering an environment of kindness and compassion.
A commencement ceremony was held on Saturday, June 15, in the gym. Co-valedictorians Amelia Kau and Parker Landsman spoke to their fellow students and audience members, who also heard from salutatorian Paris Wilson, who held back tears as she said, “You guys make me smile and laugh every day.” Class president Luke Pietsch addressed the audience as well.
Landsman and Kau shared one of their life philosophies: the duck bucket.
“Some things we give a duck about; some we don’t,” said Landsman, as she and Kau placed yellow rubber ducks on the podium. “We only have so many ducks to give … so give them to the things you really care about.”
Other members of the 2019 graduating class are Kupono Anuenue; Charlie Bigbee; Olivia Brunner-Gaydos; Alice (Ame) Exton; Kayleigh Horton; Timothy Jenson; Alyssa Johns; Ronan Kau; Henry Meinhardt Moe; Dylan Moore; Taylor Morrison; Levi Moss; Ciaran O’Neill; Phaedra Osborn; Luke Pietsch; Benjamin Pollard; Ronan Rankin; Joseph Reigel; Chela Scheckel-Mohler; Katarina Schiller; Nathan Smith; Emma Thoron; Margot Van Gelder; Meg Waage; Dominick Wareham; Erin White and Ethan White.
The class set up an empty seat for classmate Conrad Hogle, who died in June 2017.
“He is missed but not forgotten,” said High School Principal Kyle Freeman.
The class chose Jim Donald, current CEO of Albertsons and former CEO of Starbucks, who owns a home on the island. He worked one-on-one with the students to learn about them and craft a speech that met their needs. He said his time with them “made me a better person in my professional and personal life.” Donald called them “a class that cares.” Over his career of working at six large companies, it was a boss early on who gave the best advice.
“She said, ‘These 100,000 employees don’t care about how much you know; they want to know how much you care,’” he said.
Others honored during the ceremony included school board member Janet Brownell, who has served in that position for 19 years and is stepping down and retiring OASIS teacher Patricia Slabaugh and food services director Debbie Guilford.
Former United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who gave the OIHS commencement speech in 2016, provides a $1,000 gift to a teacher or community member of a student’s choice. The kids are asked to submit letters about someone who made a significant difference in their life, and this year’s winner was Parker Landsman, who wrote about teacher Chris Waage.
“He singlehandedly changed the course of my life,” she said.
Waage offered the first advanced placement course on computers at the school, and it sparked a passion for Landsman in coding and computer science. She will study that topic at California Polytechnic State University in the fall. Parker also received a scholarship from Amazon of $10,000 per year over four years and a guaranteed paid internship after her freshman year of college. She said Waage was instrumental in her receiving that award.
The class received $137,000 in scholarships from local organizations. The recipients are as follows.
• Voyle B. Martin Academic Scholarship in honor of Elam H. Kelton: Ronan Rankin, $1,500.
• Voyle B. Martin Vocational Scholarship in Honor of Voyle B. Martin: Kayleigh, $1,500.
• Claude A. Rubeling Memorial Academic Scholarship: Margot Van Gelder, $1,500.
• Claude A. Rubeling Memorial Academic Scholarship: Charlie Bigbee, $1,500.
• American Legion Inspirational Award and Medallion: Kupono Anuenue, $250.
• American Legion Inspirational Award and Medallion: Parker Landsman, $250.
Sons of the American Legion
• Alyssa Johns, $1,000.
American Legion Auxiliary Unit #93
• Sally Hart Memorial Scholarship: Emma Thoron, $1,500.
• Mid Flaherty Memorial Scholarship: Henry Moe, $1,500.
• Lar Vern Keys Memorial Scholarship: Ronan Rankin, $1,500.
• ALA Scholarship in Honor of Barbara Saul: Kayleigh Horton, $1,500.
• ALA Scholarship in Honor of Kay Irwin: Ronan Kau, $1,500.
Eagle Forum on San Juan County
• Emma Thoron, $1,000
Fidelis Circle Awards
• Dominick Wareham, $200.
Bob and Phyllis Henigson Public School Student College Scholarship
• Renewed every year for four years: Henry Moe, $8,000 per year and Emma Thoron, $8,000 per year
• Olivia Brunner-Gaydos, $1,000
• Ethan White, $1,000
John Mount Model Aviation Memorial Scholarship
• Levi Moss, $500
Kaleidoscope Preschool and Child Care Scholarship
• Dominick Wareham, $500
Kiwanis Club of Orcas Island
• Kiwanis Citizen/Leadership Scholarships, $1,200 each: Amelia Kau, Parker Landsman, Henry Moe, Luke Pietsch, Ethan White and Paris Wilson.
• Kiwanis Voc-Tech Scholarship: Ronan Rankin, $500.
• The Bill Marx Hat Draw Award: Levi Moss, $400.
• Kayleigh Horton, $1,000; Charlie Bigbee, $1,000; Alyssa Johns, $1,000
Orcas Education Association
• Meg Waage, $500.
Orcas Island Booster Club
• Olivia Brunner-Gaydos, $500; Parker Landsman, $500.
Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival
Supported by the Thyra and Bud Anderson Advised Fund
• Marilyn Anderson Young Musician’s Awards: Timothy Jenson, $500; Paris Wilson, $500.
Orcas Island Education Foundation
• OIEF Scholarships: Amelia Kau, $1,000; Parker Landsman, $1,000; Henry Moe, $750; Paris Wilson, $750; Olivia Brunner-Gaydos, $500; Ronan Kau, $500; Luke Pietsch, $500; Emma Thoron, $500 and Meg Waage, $250.
• Hobie Alter Scholarship: Timothy Jenson, $500.
• Marian A. Berdan Scholarship, supporting women pursuing studies in math or science: Parker Landsman, $600.
• Realtors of Orcas Island Scholarship: Parker Landsman, $1,000 and Paris Wilson, $1,000.
• Thurman Bond Scholarships: Kayleigh Horton, $1,500; Ronan Rankin, $1,500.
Orcas Island Fire and Rescue Firefighter/EMT Association
Jeff Patty Scholarship (This scholarship is renewed every year for four years): Ronan Rankin, $500
Orcas Island Lions Club and Foundation
• Abrahamsen Family Scholarships: Paris Wilson, $2,800.
• Jim Golithon Memorial Scholarship: Emma Thoron, $2,800.
• Joseph Bond Vocational Scholarship: Parker Landsman, $2,800.
• Leonard Wellman Academic Scholarship: Amelia Kau, $2,800.
• Orcas Island Lions Club Scholarship in Honor of Larry Garvin: Ethan White, $2,800.
• Vic Hughes Memorial Scholarship: Charlie Bigbee, $2,800.
Orcas Odd Fellows
• Kupono Anuenue: $1,500.
• Parker Landsman: $1,500.
Public School Employees of Orcas Island
• Katarina Schiller, $100; Meg Waage, $100.
San Juan County Sheriff’s Guild
• Charlie Bigbee, $500; Alice (Ame) Exton, $500.
San Juan Island Visitors’ Bureau
• Emma Thoron, $1000
San Juan Masonic Lodge
• Parker Landsman, $1,500; Luke Pietsch, $1,000.
Steve Resch Memorial
• Kupono Anuenue, $3,300
The following students received scholarships from their colleges, universities or outside sources: Charlie Bigbee, Amelia Kau, Parker Landsman, Henry Moe, Luke Pietsch, Nathan Smith, Emma Thoron, Margot Van Gelder, Meg Waage, Ethan White and Paris Wilson.