Lion pride was on display at the commencement of the 106th graduating class of Kennewick High School.
“We are lions,” said Ahmed Ali, an exchange student from Egypt. “And once a Kennewick lion, always a lion.”
Graduates walked into the Toyota Center in groups of friends to Pomp and Circumstance played by the school band and orchestra, some stopping when they reached the start of the red carpet to raise their arms in victory.
Valedictorian Prescott Davis, also the class president, told his classmates he was sure they would rather see him make a balloon animal than make a typical graduation speech.
“Just like a balloon animal life has its twists and turns,” he said as he twisted legs and head onto a balloon and told the story of the class.
“Can we all agree we had a good story?” he asked. “So let’s end it with a bang,” he said, popping his creation.
Salutatorian was Myanna Harris.
The commencement marked the 15th time a child of Rick and Pat Reil walked across the stage to pick up a Kennewick High diploma. Madilyn Reil is their youngest and last lion.
Missing from commencement was classmate Alondra Flores, who is in Seattle for treatment of brain tumors. Her sister and brother accepted her diploma.
The graduates are taking memories with them and leaving behind three gifts: a new bike rack, the school’s first official flag and a spirit runner flag for rallies.