GRANDVIEW - Before the members of the Sunnyside Christian High School Class of 2004 marched to their seats at the front of the Church of the Nazarene in Grandview, guests were invited to take a look back at the past year through the eyes of the 20 graduating seniors.
A video filled with important and memorable moments from the students last school year together gave those in the audience a glimpse of just how close the graduates are to each other.
"Here before you is the class of 2004, each of us unique in our own way," said Valedictorian Vanessa DeJong.
She said together the students make up a very outspoken and adamant group.
"We bent and broke many rules," she said. "[But] we hope to be remembered for our determined personalities."
DeJong said the class wants to forget mistakes they made in the past as they get ready to go their own separate ways and prepare for the future.
"The class of 2004 asks for your continued prayers and support," she said.
Sunnyside Christian High School history teacher Russ Smies served as the class speaker, noting that the student's freshman year was his first year teaching.
"We've both learned quite a bit together," Smies said.
He said one thing he will miss about the class of 2004 is that he found them to be a challenge in many ways. Smies said they have challenged themselves in every way, from doing better in school to challenging each other in the weight room with their personal bests.
"I've noticed you are capable of rising to the challenge," Smies said.
He told the graduates that although their thoughts are a million miles away from that nervous feeling they felt on their first day of the high school, it is important not to forget all of the memories they have made over the years.
"Do not throw away all those precious memories of your high school career," Smies said.
He then told the graduates to continue to challenge themselves and to continue to stand up for what they believe in.
"Aim high," Smies said. "The most important thing is that whatever your goal is...your highest goal is the prize God has laid before you in life."
Before the class of 2004 received their diplomas, they made a contribution to the school many of them have attended for four years. The class presented the school with $400 for audio visual equipment, which will be used to purchase a 27-inch flat screen television.
As each of the 20 members of the graduating class stood and walked across the stage to receive their diploma, they were introduced by Principal Dean Wagenaar, who read a little bit about each of the graduates, including their favorite high school memory and their plans after graduation.
Scholarship recipients were also recognized during the ceremony. Jessica Aleman received a $500 Future Educator's Scholarship; Nick Bonny received an All Saints Scholarship from Carroll College in the amount of $18,000 over four years; Justin Bos received $13,000 in awards and grants from Big Bend Community College; DeJong received an $8,000 scholarship from Whitworth College, a $9,470 grant from Whitworth College, a $1,000 Yakima Valley Dairy Scholarship, a $1,000 Yakima Federal Savings and Loan award for academic excellence and a Washington State Honors Award; Derek DeVries received a $1,000 Washington Apple Education Foundation/Wilbur Ellis Company Scholarship, a $1,000 University of Washington Dollars for Scholars matching grant, a $1,000 Yakima Federal Savings and Loan award for academic excellence, a Washington Promise Scholarship and a Washington State Honors award; Alyssa Fennell received a $750 Miss Sunnyside Court Scholarship; Alyssa Groenewold received a $8,500 Whitworth College Salutatorian Scholarship, a $5,500 Calvin College Presidential Scholarship, a $2,000 Seattle Pacific University Phillip W. Easton Scholarship, an $8,000 Seattle Pacific University Trustee's Scholarship and a Washington State Honors Award; Holly Haak received a $5,000 Seattle Pacific University Provost Scholar Award; Hilary Hughes received a $500 Greater Columbia B League Academic Athlete Scholarship, a $4,000 Northwest Nazarene University Athletic Scholarship for Soccer, a $1,750 Northwest Nazarene University Academic Scholarship and a $900 Tacoma Community College Athletic Scholarship for Soccer; and Lucas Kilian received a $35,460 Montgomery GI Bill award from the United States Navy.