by: staff photo by GUS JARVIS Senior Katie Kammeyer hands Principal Scott Sullivan several bananas in exchange for her diploma during Saturday’s graduation ceremony. With almost every graduate handing over a banana that evening, the Class of 2011 certainly had their beloved principal going bananas.

Having impeccable grades enabled Bailey Rathbun to offer a speech at her Estacada Junior High School graduation some four years ago. It was then she decided she would like to give a speech again, but next time it would be in front of the Estacada High School Class of 2011 as its valedictorian.

Fast-forward to the present.

Between her efforts of being a member of the cross-country team and a dedicated member of the school's drama club, as well as finding a passion for music in the school's choir, Rathbun finds herself with a 4.0 grade point average and is the valedictorian of her graduating class.

'I've always had good grades since I started in this school district,' Rathbun said a few days before the Estacada High School graduation ceremony. She grew up in Welches before moving to California for a year and then moved to Estacada when she was in the sixth grade. 'I started thinking about being valedictorian at the end of junior high when I gave a speech at the junior high graduation. I worked really hard for this.'

Academically, Rathbun said her strengths are in literature and English, but she found herself struggling to get an A in her calculus class, which she said was her most difficult class.

'I had a huge challenge with calculus,' Rathbun said. 'It was a class that brought me to the point of thinking I wasn't going to make an A in it. If there was one person who helped me get through it, it was my wonderful teacher, Mrs. (Ruth) Patino. She understands that some students have challenges in different subjects, and she worked with me a lot to get me up to snuff. She proved I could learn it, even if I took a little bit longer.'

It's educators like Patino who can adjust their teaching styles to students' different learning styles, which has Rathbun thinking of going into teaching.

'One of the most difficult things is that every student learns differently and teachers have to find the best way to reach those students,' Rathbun said. 'Flexibility is what I really admired in my teachers. If I become one, I would emulate that ability to change the way I teach to different groups of students.'

After her second summer of life guarding at a camp in Washington state, she will attend the Robert D. Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon in Eugene. She plans to study English, theater and possibly teaching.

'I haven't decided in which way they will correlate and combine to make my career,' she said. 'I am not going to set it in stone right now.'

As for her fellow graduating seniors, Rathbun heard from a staff member at the high school that the class of 2011 is one of the most close-knit classes she had ever seen go through the high school.

'I would agree with that,' she said. 'We have all become really close. It is a highly talented class, and I honestly believe that we, as a whole, have brought so much talent and skill and hard work to the high school. We have also been able to achieve unity as a class as well.'

For example, she said, of the entire class, only 10 students showed up at school during their organized senior skip day.

'We had a great time,' she said. 'Everybody in this class is so nice to each other.'

And for her underclassmen, Rathbun offered a last bit of advice to help them get the best education they can while attending school in Estacada.

'It can be hard for a lot of people to humble themselves to their teachers and advisers,' Rathbun said. 'If you can cultivate a relationship with teachers and listen to them and seek their help, then they will help you. You just have to learn to communicate with them.'

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