By Chris Hendrickson, contributing writer
It was up against some pretty stiff competition.
Sultan High School’s first-ever freshman Commitment to Graduation Ceremony took place on Wednesday, Feb 5, the same day as the celebratory Seahawks championship parade honoring the football team’s Super Bowl win. But despite the fact that many students had ventured into downtown Seattle with their families, the ceremony proudly held its own with approximately half the school’s freshmen and their families in attendance.
The ceremony, which was targeted at freshmen to promote commitment to finish all four years, was Sultan High School Principal Tami Nesting’s vision. Nesting worked with a company called National Achiever; a Bothell-based educational services company that provides letterman jackets, graduation caps and gowns, class rings, awards and other products, all in the name of promoting scholastic success.
The evening included an introductory speech by Nesting, who talked about the fact that time will likely travel quickly by for students, and before they know it, graduation will be closing in. She discussed some statistical facts.
“A lot of the research shows, and it certainly has been my experience in the 22 years that I’ve worked in education, that what happens in your 9th grade very accurately predicts what’s going to happen in your 12th grade year,” said Nesting.
She stated that, by looking at student grades and attendance records, she can garner an inkling of what may happen to that student in the future.
“I can predict, even though I hardly know most of you, with probably over a 90 percent accuracy, who’s going to make it and wind up in college and who we’re going to lose along the way,” said Nesting.
She then pointed out that change is still possible.
“What I know about students is done through numbers and statistics and research, but you guys don’t have to be statistics,” said Nesting. “You can be anything that you want to be.”
Nesting congratulated all students who have thus far gotten off to a good start. She then encouraged all students who have been experiencing difficulty in their first semesters to find a “lifeline” or someone who can help support them, so that they can get on the right path. She stated that Sultan High School offers a host of counselors, teachers and advisors to help students get clarity on their educational goals.
“My message to you is to make good decisions,” said Nesting. “It matters what you’re doing now; that you’re here every day, that you’re doing your very best in class, and that you’re thinking about your future because it’s going to be here before we know it.”
She then turned the event over to Louis Bremond of National Achievers, who showed a video featuring Sultan High School student interviews and gave a lively motivational speech.
Sultan High School Assistant Principal Scott Sifferman then joined Nesting on stage and they shook hands with each student while presenting them with certificates honoring the occasion.
The certificates, which were provided by National Achiever, included the following sentiment; “The students, faculty, families, and community members associated with Sultan High School are committed to academic excellence and ensuring that students acquire the skills and knowledge needed to thrive as lifelong learners and responsible citizens in a changing world. Working together, we will achieve these goals.”
Each student crossed the stage in a manner meant to be representative of the walk that they will be taking as they graduate in 2017.
The evening included dinner for students and their families.
Sultan High School freshmen Bethany Kirkpatrick, Sarah King and Kira Estes were seated together, having dinner after the certificate-presentation portion of the evening was over. They said that as a whole, they really enjoyed the Commitment to Graduation ceremony.
“I just like how it kind of brought everyone together and it got us looking towards graduation and stuff,” said Kirkpatrick.
Kirkpatrick and her friends have already begun considering their prospects for the future.
“I really want to be an oncology nurse or just anything in the medical field involving kids,” said Kirkpatrick, who loves math class and is hoping to attend the University of Washington.
Estes, who favors band, is also leaning towards a career in the medical field.
“I want to be either an anesthesiologist or a surgeon,” said Estes.
King’s favorite class this semester is her American Sign Language class. She is hoping to pursue a career in science.
“I want to be a marine biologist,” said King.
After crossing the stage, the students were all given the opportunity to pose together for a class photo and sign a Commitment to Graduation banner which will be placed on display at the school.
“Tonight is really about celebrating all of our students,” said Nesting.