Local high school seniors are celebrating their graduations, milestones in each of their lives.

As graduates crossed the stages at Lakeridge, Lake Oswego, Riverdale, Westside Christian and Park Academy in recent days, they left one phase of life and started a new one, but we hope they never forget their roots.

Many of these graduates had access to some of the best academic programs and courses offered in the nation. While the schools and their districts make every effort to attract top-notch instructors, it is the students themselves that make the schools special. Their sense of drive and determination is top notch. Throw in committed administrations and very engaged parents, and it’s a recipe for success.

As we say goodbye to the current school year, we are sending forth 663 high school graduates into the world. It breaks down like this:

Lake Oswego High School: 288

Lakeridge High School: 253

Riverdale High School: 57

Westside Christian High School: 62

Park Academy: 3

Many of them will be leaving for college in the fall, some will find jobs or travel. No matter what they end up doing, our hope is that they look back on their local school years with pride and appreciation.

Academically, the collective results from these five schools was staggering. Consider:

LOHS: 23 National Merit Commended Students; nine National Merit Finalists; four National Merit Winners; average composite SAT score of 1,755 (more than 200 points higher than the Oregon high school average); three students earned perfect scores on their ACT exams; school ranked as one of top schools in the country; DECA students qualified for nationals; Constitutional Law Team third in Oregon; Orchestra, Band and Choir all qualified for state (band was second); dance/drill team was first in 6A small division at state.  

Lakeridge: Two National Merit scholarship winners; one National Merit finalist; nine National Merit commended students; one National Merit outstanding participant; OAKS scores among the highest in Oregon; recipient of the national NCTE Writing Award; Orchestra, Band and Choir all qualified for state; recipient of a Congressional Art Award; students held top-ranking positions at the state MUN Conference;cheerleading team fourth in 6A small division state; dance/drill team sixth in 6A small division state.

Riverdale: 100 percent graduation rate; 96 percent attending college; second in mock trial in Oregon; won International Bridge Building Competition and school got top 20 bridges for Oregon; 57 seniors completed 9,177 hours of service; top team GPA in the state for girls tennis; top GPA for 2A in boys golf, boys track and girls track.

Westside: Average scholarship award for those students planning to attend a four-year college next year, $8,200 a year; average SAT score over past four years, 1,732; average ACT score over past four years, 25.7; all graduating seniors plan to attend a four-year or two-year college/university or spend the next year doing a missions-oriented gap year; 47 percent of graduates took AP tests and/or earned concurrent college credit; two National Merit finalist/commended students; choir, state champions for seventh consecutive year.

In sports, it was much of the same:

Riverdale boys soccer won first state title in school history

Lake Oswego: State champions in boys golf; football second in state; girls lacrosse second in state; boys basketball third in state; girls tennis fourth in state.

Lakeridge: State champions in girls track, boys lacrosse; girls soccer made state semifinals.

Westside: Boys and girls track, third in state; boys golf, fourth in state; boys soccer, state quarterfinalists; boys cross country, sixth in state; girls basketball, state playoffs.

With that taste of success and the knowledge of the hard work that it took to achieve it, we have high hopes and expectations for the class of 2013. To you, we say, “Go for it!” Yes, it will probably take a long time to achieve your dreams. Yes, the road is long, confusing and sometimes has dead ends or detours. Yes, some dreams may fade out and new ones may be born. And, yes, it takes hard work — lots of hard work.

However, we have no doubt our local graduates will succeed and make our area proud.

Though you should work toward future goals, don’t forget about the present and the past. Don’t step on those who helped you up, and don’t forget to thank those who helped you out. Repay the favors or pay them forward. Remember those who inspired you and work to inspire others.

But don’t forget to enjoy the ride.

Life is a long and challenging path that will introduce you to great people and times and also the hardest struggles. Keep your head and your perspective, and most of all, keep your friends and family close. Don’t forget where you came from and the lessons you were taught along the way.

And, as special reminder, as the school year ends and your excitement for the future builds, be safe.

Congratulations, graduates.

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