Pressured by looming storm, Sunnyside graduation takes place

It’s “Oh Happy Day” when you graduate.

Photo by Ted Escobar
It’s “Oh Happy Day” when you graduate.



— In one of the most spectacular graduations witnessed around here, Sunnyside High School sent 415 graduates into the world at commencement ceremonies Friday night, June 8.

There was a race against mother nature after she threw high winds and a threat of rain at the graduates about an hour before the 8 p.m. start time. After the processional, graduates battled the wind to keep their hats on.

The Star Spangled Banner, played by the Sunnyside High Mariachi, was intensified by the wind passing the front of the microphone on stage. It made the sound of rolling thunder as the mariachi played.

This combination of music and thunder could have worked for the end of a war film.

But it was for the beginning of a battle for life, as the graduates start seeking their paths toward the future.

Principal Ryan Maxwell drew laughter when he said “beautiful night” during his opening remarks. Actually it was, in a strange sort of way. These graduates, their families, teachers and friends will likely never forget June 8, 2018.

In addition to the storm, the ceremony was interrupted by a helicopter approaching from the east and flying right over the stadium. Everything stopped as people looked skyward at the intruder.

Then Maxwell announced that the helicopter, from the Yakima Training Center was making a planned fly-over. People waved and cheered as the helicopter made a return pass.

Ryan referred to the graduates as “one of the highest performing classes we’ve had in recent years.”

Twenty of the graduates will start their futures with associate of arts degrees as well as diplomas. The class netted $4 million in scholarship awards. It gave the community 8,300 volunteer hours. It had the highest graduation rate in Sunnyside history.

“Your goal is to find your purpose,” Maxwell said.

In the future, he added, “Don’t be satisfied with anything less than your best.”

Salutatorian Alexis Dominguez said, “When you fall, stand up again.”

“After tonight, a lot of things are going to change,” co-Valedictorian Michael Condie said.

He added that change should be embraced because change means people are growing.

Co-valedictorian David Jimenez noted this class was the first in 20 years to get the boys basketball team to state. He added that the cheer squad finished third at state and 47 graduates accomplished grade point averages of 3.70.

Co-valedictorian Erica Linde said, “Don’t let graduation from high school be the most important thing in your life.”

She said the most important thing is yet to come. She suggested they work hard and have fun at whatever they do.

“May God be with you until we meet again,” she said.



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