Class of 2014 spends one last day together

Seniors at area high schools stepped up and received diplomas

Tacoma News TribuneJune 18, 2014 

On her mortar board, Peninsula High School graduate Taylor Dike spread and swirled colors. The splattered cap also had the symbol for “Ohm.”

Dike said Sunday afternoon the swirls and symbols are indicative of her time at PHS, which was “a whole lot of colors and splatters” that taught her about herself.

William Weron, standing near Dike behind the curtain ready to march, also decided to take a different approach with loud graduation wear. He didn’t decorate his cap, he went to Party City and bought furry, neon green leg warmers.

“I be wearin’ awesome leg warmers,” Weron said, poking fun at his last name.

Next year, Dike is headed to Pierce College and Weron is going to enlist in the Marine Corps, but on Sunday they shared one last memory as the PHS class of 2014.

Over the weekend, Gig Harbor High School, Henderson Bay High School, the Community Transition Program and PHS all celebrated the Class of 2014. On Sunday, the Tides and the Seahawks took over the Tacoma Dome.

At the Gig Harbor High School graduation, graduate Natalie Swanson kicked things off for the Tides by reminding the class of all the little graduations they’d had in school; for example, finally claiming the back of the bus in fifth grade.

Swanson acknowledged that many of the graduates had been born and raised in the district. She met her walking partner and best friend, John Ellis, at Voyager Elementary.

“It’s part of this amazing community and culture we call Gig Harbor High School,” she said in the ceremony’s opening remarks.

It was a special Father’s Day for Jonathan Bill, the Peninsula faculty speaker.

“I love you all, I really do. This group, you’re special,” he told students.

He’s known the group for longer than its time at Peninsula— he’s coached basketball teams and even knew some students since day care.

“... and one of you I’ve known since the moment you were born,” he said.

His daughter, Lydia, not only graduated but was selected as the student speaker. Well, not strictly a speaker, because Lydia Bill used her show choir and musical pipes to sing parts of her speech.

Jonathan Bill recounted how he thought Lydia wouldn’t make it when she was born; she was one month premature. He said he is inspired by his infant daughter’s fight to live when she had barely yet experienced life. He sees that strength in her and her classmates still.

“I’m in awe of all of you,” he said. “I know what kind of strength you have.”

Dr. Doug Perry, who is retiring after 37 years in the district, addressed Gig Harbor students.

Perry said he felt like he was graduating along with the class. He is stepping into retirement while they are stepping out into a new world.

He said that life is about keeping a sense of humor and sticking to what you know you love. That’s what he did.

“My calling, my vocation in life was to be a teacher,” he said. “That has not changed.”

He remembers being in their seats in 1960, just about to head to Gonzaga.

“Though 54 years separate us, we are similar,” he said.

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