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Graduations remind us of gratitude

This past week has been a wonderful opportunity to really focus on the success of our schools rather than the continued challenge created from financial shortfalls. At Tualatin High's graduation ceremonies, Valedictorian Matthew Miller advised his fellow classmates to 'find gratitude in all circumstances.' Although our district's budget circumstances are grim, I certainly found gratitude in many places.

First I am grateful for the outstanding youth deemed the 2012 graduates of Tigard-Tualatin schools. This past weekend we were inspired by our graduates with their endless accomplishments in the arts, athletics, school and community activities, and of course, for their academic excellence. Tigard senior Hikaru Mizuno scored a perfect ACT not once, but twice. Tualatin's Juliana Porter was recognized as a National Merit Finalist. From both schools, we had students recognized as a semi-finalist or commended student. These students are in the top 5 percent in the nation in terms of academic performance. Tigard High recognized the unparalleled efforts demonstrated by Sean Sakaguchi in academics and in service. Understanding the critical importance of reading, Sakaguchi led an effort to donate over 2,000 books to the Caring Closet. Sakaguchi has also created one of the largest 'Sparrow Clubs' in the country. Sparrow Clubs are designed to help meet the needs of local impoverished children in need of medical support.

Our athletes rank among the best not only in league competitions and state championships, but also by maintaining high academic standards while participating in sports. Several of our students earned state recognition through speech and debate, FBLA, robotics and solo and ensemble competitions. Hundreds of our students participated in the International Baccalaureate program by taking IB coursework, earning an IB certificate in a content area, or by fulfilling the rigorous demands of the full IB diploma.

I would be remiss if I didn't specifically give thanks to our School Board liaisons - Tualatin's Nina Coleman and Tigard's Lauren Chan. These ladies gave generously of their time by attending board meetings and sharing their perspectives as student leaders.

Secondly, I want to take a moment to thank our staff and district families who spend their lives dedicated to the success of our children. Kudos to you; I have total faith that these students will leave our high schools and do great things for our communities and country.

Last but certainly not least, thank you to our community partners. This past Thursday, I was fortunate to attend the Seniors Awards Assembly at Tigard High. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of financial support given to our students through community scholarships. I know the same has occurred at Tualatin High School. Thousands and thousands of dollars have been generously given by local organizations such as Comcast Leaders and Achievers program, Eagles Lodge, King City Lions Club, Meridian Park Auxiliary, Tigard Kiwanis Club, Tigard Rotary clubs, Tigard American Legion, Tualatin Historical Society, Tualatin Soccer Club and Washington County 4-H. I also have tremendous gratitude for all the private donors who have set up scholarships in memory of their loved-ones that have done so much for our community. Once again, I am grateful.

At Tigard High's graduation, Tanah Dalton summed it up best through her beautiful voice and ukulele. To her fellow students: 'Regrets, I have none; class of 2012, we had fun.' You indeed should have no regrets; congratulations class of 2012!

Maureen Wolf serves as chair of the Board of Directors for the Tigard-Tualatin School District.