Class of 2024 reflects on tenure during Rainier High School graduation


By Dylan Reubenking

Fifty-four seniors who began their high school journeys in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic finished their tenure at Rainier High School with a graduation ceremony on Friday, June 7. The resilience of the class, which largely grew up together in elementary school, was the theme of the ceremony.

RHS and Rainier Middle School Principal John Beckman opened the graduation by congratulating the seniors and reminiscing on how he has known many of them for seven years.

Valedictorians Johnny Boesch and Lilyana Ramalho took the stage to reflect on their time at RHS and thank those who helped them graduate at the top of their class.

“Most of us have been going to school together since elementary school. Even as far as kindergarten, we have gotten to grow up together our whole educational lives, through all the hardships like COVID-19 and state testing, to all the fun times at assemblies, lunch, sports games and in class,” Boesch said. “These are the memories that I think of when I hear the Class of 2024.”

Ramalho offered the seniors the opportunity to live in the present and enjoy the moment as much of their high school experience was spent looking forward to the next event.

“Together, we have embarked on a journey filled with challenges, triumphs, laughter and tears. Today marks the culmination of years of hard work, dedication and perseverance,” she said. “We have not only grown academically, but also as individuals, ready to embrace the next chapter of our lives with courage and resilience. For most of our lives, we have said the phrase, ‘I can’t wait…’ I can’t wait for high school. I can’t wait to get my license. I can’t wait to graduate. And although we were always anticipating the next thing to be excited for in our life, I want to take the time today to just live in this moment and cherish and reflect on the last four years of high school.”

Boesch cited a long-time Rainier tradition of students writing letters of appreciation to any teacher, staff member or coach who positively impacted their lives.

He said he was only going to write two letters, but when a teacher asked about why there were only two despite his growing up in Rainier, he reflected further and concluded that, while every teacher played a role in his development, his parents were always his true teachers in life.

“From all the ups and downs of the countless hours of them quizzing me on math in elementary school to them ‘yelling’ at me for getting a bad grade on a test — the bad grade was 88 out of 100 — they did it because they knew I could do better, and they always made sure I did my best,” Boesch said. “In order to ensure I did my best in school, my mom sacrificed her entire college education and career dreams in order to raise my older sister and me. I will never be able to fully thank them for what they have done behind the scenes to make me who I am.”

Ramalho encouraged her fellow graduates to embrace the unknown of adulthood and commit to change.

“As we look to the future, it is natural to feel a sense of uncertainty. The road ahead may be filled with obstacles and challenges, but it is also brimming with opportunity and promise,” she said. “Whether we choose to pursue higher education, enter the workforce or explore new horizons, let us do so with courage and a commitment to change. Change is one of the scariest but exciting things to endure, but let us remember that change is OK and ultimately inevitable and to embrace change no matter where life takes us.”

The class of 2024 members then each had their moment to receive their diplomas and walk across the stage in front of their family and friends.

Graduate Olivia Earsley then instructed the seniors to rise, move their tassels from right to left and then toss them into the air in celebration.