Cedarcrest Names Class of 2017 Valedictorians and Salutatorian
This year's Class of 2017 Valedictorians and Salutatorian are (L-R):
Salutatorian Courtney Tobin, and Valedictorians Alice Ish, Raina Mooney, Julia Knox, Meg Knox, and Alia Hanson
This year’s Valedictorians and Salutatorian have entertained lots of interests, never losing a desire to study and learn more with each passing year. Uniquely, they also have all grown up together, as all six students earning “Val and Sal” recognition this year started in the Riverview School District as kindergarteners and will finish up as Cedarcrest graduates on June 16, 2017.
Those 13 years of experiences and perspectives were discussed when our Communications Coordinator, Mike Ward, sat down and interviewed the 2017 Valedictorians - Alia Hanson, Alice Ish, Julia Knox, Meg Knox, and Raina Mooney (graduating with a 4.0 GPA), and Courtney Tobin, graduating as Salutatorian, with a 3.993 GPA.
Pondering their final days at Cedarcrest, the students weigh in on the stress and relief that comes with graduating, and consider what it means to say goodbye to a community that has helped define who they are and what they hope to become.
Congratulations! When does a Valedictorian and/or Salutatorian learn that you have earned this honor?
COURTNEY TOBIN: For senior year, only the first semester grades count towards Val and Sal. It was Mr. La Bate (Ray La Bate, Cedarcrest principal) who called us into the office and told us the news.
MEG KNOX: At the end of your Junior year, you can kind of get a sense of how close you are and if you are on track.
ALIA HANSON: And then you enter the scary zone.
JULIA KNOX: And then you have an A- midway through the first quarter of your senior year in one or two of your classes and you start to panic!
So how do you feel when Mr. La Bate confirms the news?
JULIA : We clarified at the meeting: ‘Can we actually get an A- second semester?’
MEG: I think we are all the kind of people though who are still trying hard to make sure we finish with the best grades we can, right?
ALICE ISH: Haha. I think we’re all just a bunch of “Try-Hards!”
I think I have the title for the article now!
ALICE: You’re welcome! (More laughter.)
Talk about the sacrifices one makes to get to this place academically.
RAINA MOONEY: I do think it’s true that the longer you keep the 4.0, the more anxiety and stress starts building up.
COURTNEY: I got my A- the second semester of my Junior year. And no lie, I cried. Like a baby.
JULIA: I remember you telling us that story. I think we are all pretty involved in lots of things, and you just work towards finding that balance between clubs, activities, and jobs, and anything you find yourself a part of.
ALICE: We just found a way to stay on top of it I guess, right?
ALIA: I think if you just do the homework and study a little bit for your tests, it will be okay.
JULIA: There are lots of late nights, but it is impossible for me to know I have homework and not do it. I freak out. It just feels wrong.
What are some of the activities you are all involved in, be it in school or outside of school?
COURTNEY: I was in cross-country and track (and field) the first three years at Cedarcrest, but now I nanny every day after school.
RAINA: I am involved in lots of different clubs. I am president of the Gay-Straight Alliance, and in Art Club and NHS (National Honors Society). Outside of school, I play musical instruments and focus a lot of my time on music. I also volunteered every Tuesday after school at Cherry Valley Veterinary for about a year and was in band for two years.
ALIA: I am co-president of NHS, along with another girl, Hailey Shannon (Class of 2017 graduate), and she is really cool by the way. I have a part-time job and work on the weekends and a day or two during the week.
MEG: I am involved in FFA (Future Farmers of America) as the treasurer this year. Also, NHS, Thespian Society and the drama department. I work at Pickle Time (a local Duvall restaurant) part-time and play bass in my brother’s band sometimes...
JULIA: Shout out to The Jet Pack! (Meg and Julia’s brother’s band.) I have been president of the Literary Club for two years, Vice-President, and now President of Random Acts of Kindness, worked on school plays during my earlier years and I also work at Pickle Time...
MEG AND JULIA: Shout out to Pickle Time!
JULIA: I also helped tutor kids once a week, for an hour or so, at Cherry Valley Elementary, with Alia!
ALIA: That was so much fun!
JULIA: Plus, I spend some time volunteering weekly at Greyhound Pets Inc., which is an adoption agency for greyhound dogs off the track.
ALICE: I have been the vice-president of FFA for two years, ran track for two years, and work a part-time job locally.
With all of you connected to your community, what does “community” mean to you? How does it feel knowing that you are getting ready to leave?
JULIA: I feel like it’s time to leave, but I’m going to miss it.
ALIA: Because we are such a small community, there are only so many options for ways to get involved and remain engaged. Once you feel you’ve exhausted those opportunities, it feels like time to move on to something bigger.
RAINA: I feel ready to leave Duvall, but I also love Duvall. I just know that I’m ready to go on and do more and help other communities.
ALICE: We are big fish in a little pond and soon we are going to be little fish in a big pond.
COURTNEY: We all grew up together, it’s so crazy. One of the Knox girls was in my 5th grade camp and we didn’t even know each other...
JULIA: Wait. That was me! We braided each other’s hair!
COURTNEY: Yes! Also, my mom taught Raina her 4th grade year, and it is just so hard to imagine all of these connections are changing and might go away to some extent.
MEG: There’s a security in knowing everyone and sharing experiences with a particular group of people.
COURTNEY: Everyone kind of holds everyone up in a small community and we depend a lot on one another.
Alright, let’s talk colleges. How has that process been?
JULIA: Has everyone confirmed their college?
COURTNEY: There have been a few tears. I told my parents for a little while that we are not talking about college, or graduation, or anything related to that! At first, it is really hard to figure out that next step - where are you going to plant yourself for a minimum of four years?
MEG: For us, it was a little different because our older siblings had already gone to a school we wanted to go to. We applied to the University of Washington (UW) and Western Washington University, but our first choice was UW.
JULIA: Our older sister went there and our brother is there now.
MEG: We are really lucky though. Knowing we are staying in state and having that decision made early on made things a lot easier.
ALIA: At first, I wanted to go far away and looked at the east coast. I toured schools in New York and Boston and in Washington as well. Ultimately I chose the University of Washington. It’s hard to beat the in-state tuition.
RAINA: I wanted to stay relatively close and I chose between Evergreen College and Western. It was funny, my sister was going to Seattle U. and came along with me on a tour of Western. Then she ended up transferring there this past winter. Going up to visit, I already have some friends and a social setup in place and that makes it feel a lot easier.
COURTNEY: I am the oldest and we had to figure all of this out as we went along. I applied in Michigan, near my mom, and North Carolina, and lots of different places. I knew I wanted to be on my own, so I didn’t apply anywhere in the state. I only toured a place when I knew that I was accepted, largely because I just didn’t want to get my hopes up in liking a place and not getting in. I will be going to the University of Denver.
ALICE: I started touring my junior year. I knew I wanted to stay on this coast, my sister went to the Midwest and didn’t like being so far away. I applied in schools in Washington, Oregon, and California, and my first choice was Cal-Poly (California Polytechnic State University), and although I loved the school, I didn’t think I would get in there. So I considered UW, but then I got into Cal-Poly, so I will be going there and, you know, not...know...anyone!
COURTNEY: Yeah, I don’t know a single person where I am going either!
JULIA: But then you can make a whole new group of friends!
Do you know what you plan on studying once you get there or is that still up in the air?
ALIA: I am interested in a business degree and I was given direct admission into the program at UW. I am excited because I think that’s a universal degree that opens lots of doors and opportunities. I am looking forward to seeing where that goes.
MEG: I want to go into veterinary medicine, but the UW does not offer any of those higher-level courses. So I am majoring in one of the biologies. I don’t think I want my undergraduate studies to be Pre-Vet, in case I want to branch out into other areas of science and see where that takes me.
JULIA: I am planning on majoring in English and literature. When I think about it, I can only see myself involved in that for the rest of my life. I will likely minor, or perhaps change to education and could see myself as a teacher. Like Meg, I just don’t want to box myself in to one specific thing right away.
ALICE: For Cal-Poly, you get immediately put into your major and start those classes right away, I will be in the graphic communications program, which is a combination of graphic arts and communications, so I will be studying digital and print media.
COURTNEY: I also got direct admission into the business school at University of Denver, so I want to focus on business management and human resources. I had thought about education and teaching, but my mom, my dad, and my stepmom are all in education, and I decided I didn’t really want to do what they did, so I’m hoping to do this instead.
RAINA: I am not entirely sure quite yet, but I would like to look into writing and directing programs and television. I was accepted into Western’s Fairhaven College, which is an interdisciplinary studies program, and I am able to design my own major if I do not find something that specifically fits what I am wanting to do.
With graduation looming, what teachers would you say have had an impact on your time here at Cedarcrest?
MULTIPLE: Mr. Schenk (Tony Schenk, CHS Language Arts teacher)!
JULIA: I want to be Mr. Schenk when I grow up.
MEG: Mr. Schenk and Mr. Armstrong (Dan Armstrong, CHS Social Studies teacher). They treat you like an adult, in a good way. They find a good balance between teaching and letting your opinions matter, but also having mature conversations with you. You can express your opinions to them and you know they matter to them.
ALIA: Mr. Schenk lets all of the NHS officers make our own decisions mostly and allows us to have a student-driven club. Although he and Mrs. Kelly (Tracie Kelly, NHS Co-advisor and Riverview School District Professional Learning Leader) guide us, they don’t take things over.
(The students acknowledge that all six of them are currently in Mr. Schenk’s AP Literature class.)
JULIA: I admire a teacher like Mrs. Robison (Denise Robison, CHS Science teacher).
JULIA: She made me love science. I also didn’t really love math until I took Mr. McLaughlin and Mr. McDowell’s classes (David McLaughlin and Bruce McDowell, both CHS Math teachers). They love their job and work so hard to support their students.
ALIA: They are really great math teachers, they go the extra mile and really want the students to learn. They try hard to make sure you have the tools you need for success. Mr. Hillestad (Marc Hillestad, CHS Career & Technical Education teacher) needs to be mentioned here. I initially was not excited to take one of his classes my freshman year, but I loved everything about it and he opened a door to a new area of study for me. Plus, he also teaches so, so well.
ALICE: For me, Miss Descheemaeker (Andrea Descheemaeker, CHS Art teacher).
ALICE: She is fantastic and my favorite teacher. With art, it is different - you aren’t exactly teaching content, but teaching a process. She knows how to guide you towards what she wants, but allows you to be who you are and goes out of her way to help you.
RAINA: I wanna hype up “Desch” as well. I love her so much. I have only taken one art class - AP Art - and she embraces that people express their art differently and she rewards best effort, and thought and energy, over quality.
ALICE: She is a good egg!
MEG: Mrs. Thomas (Sarah Thomas, Agriculture teacher) does such a great job of making you feel like you belong and she listens and recognizes what students want and she tries to make that happen.
COURTNEY: My counselor at Cedarcrest, Deb Walters - I don’t think I would be sitting in this room right now if it was not for her. She puts students first, more than most. And Mr. McDowell definitely is someone I want to mention. He was my coach for three years and he has been a mentor to me and we have great conversations and I never feel like he is talking down to me. Mr. Guyer (Justin Guyer, CHS Science teacher)! I think he’s pretty great.
Has all of this sunk in yet?
ALICE: This month (June) is going to be wild.
JULIA: It’s been four years. Everybody talks about wanting to leave and graduate, but then there are other times where you think of the little things - the things that have always kind of been there, the moments you overlooked maybe, but then you start remembering them. And missing them.
ALICE: When I interact with younger students, it really hits me. And then I realize I will be a senior at college, interacting with young college students and it seems like we are starting to outgrow this place. It’s really kind of strange. High school kind of brought me out of my shell, because I was always shy and reserved. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next phase.
An incoming freshman comes up to you and asks you what they need to know before going to Cedarcrest. What do you tell them?
MEG: I’m still learning this, but don’t care so much. If you are stressing yourself out constantly, you’re wasting time best spent doing other things.
RAINA: Care enough, but not too much.
MEG: When you feel like you wanna cry, just laugh instead.
RAINA: Crying is okay. You always feel better afterward and it’s a natural, emotional release.
JULIA: Dear Freshmen: Cry a lot!
COURTNEY: You will find your own voice here. Don’t worry about having a “group” or a certain number of friends, or who you are going to Homecoming with. You will find your place.
ALIA: You are not going to be the same person your senior year that you are your freshman year.
RAINA: With social groups and friends, do not make yourself change just to fit in. People are going to find you and love you for who you are.
JULIA: I would mention how grateful I am for the school we have, the friends I have, and how important it is to live in the moment and love where you are. There are so many moments where I have just been happy. And again, I’m really grateful for that.
RAINA: You have to be ready to make mistakes. You will embarrass yourself. It’s okay. I mean, what - you’re like 14, right? (Everyone laughs.) Make mistakes, it helps get you to where you want to be, and at the end of the day - everything is going to be okay.
The announcement of Valedictorians and Salutatorians is one step in a series of events for Cedarcrest's Class of 2017 graduates. The annual Senior Awards Night ceremony will take place on Tuesday, June 13, at the Riverview Educational Service Center (ESC) in Duvall at 6:00 p.m. The popular Senior Class Slideshow is scheduled for Wednesday, June 14, at 7:00 p.m. at Cedarcrest High School, and students are invited to attend the annual Baccalaureate ceremony on Sunday, June 11 at the Riverview ESC. After a morning walk-through and breakfast for the graduates, the Senior Class Graduation and Commencement ceremonies will occur on Friday, June 16, at 7:00 p.m. at Overlake Christian Church in Redmond.
In recognizing the incredible academic achievements of Alia Hanson, Alice Ish, Julia Knox, Meg Knox, Raina Mooney, and Courtney Tobin, the Riverview School District would also extend congratulations to this year’s graduating Class of 2017.