Chiawana High School graduation: Champions on and off the gridiron

Tri-City HeraldJune 7, 2014 

Co-valedictorian Kayden Maughan lifted and held high the state football championship trophy at Chiawana’s graduation ceremony Saturday as the class of almost 300 seniors cheered.

The Class 4A championship, won with a rally in the last 55 seconds, was one of the greatest games in football history, said Principal John Wallwork.

Maughan remembered looking up into the cheering stands at all the people who had come to the Tacoma Dome for the game and feeling the community of Pasco’s new high school had been united.

The school’s rallying cry, “We are Chiawana,” took on new meaning, he said.

Wallwork also told of a few students who showed they are champions off the gridiron.

Viviana Rodriguez came to the United States from Honduras at the age of 12 and struggled to learn the English language, Wallwork said. She faced being deported, but did everything the United States government asked of her.

Now she is graduating with a 3.4 grade point average and has been accepted at Washington State University.

Ana Sandoval, another immigrant, had to move in with her sister because of family difficulties, Wallwork said. But she is graduating not only from Chiawana but also has earned an associate in arts degree with honors from Columbia Basin College.

Elida Soto Lemos, the bilingual speaker, struggled to talk through tears.

She started school not understanding English, like so many of her classmates, she said. But with the support of family and teachers she graduated with six honor cords hanging over her Chiawana blue robe, including one for leadership.

Diana Khomin, co-valedictorian, said her parents emigrated from Ukraine 17 years ago and one of their goals was a good education for her. Education is not something you finish, she said. “Keep learning,” she told her classmates.

Salutatorian was Sandra Gutierrez.

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