Celebration honors Mansfield grads

Mansfield School honors the 2017 graduating class at the Mansfield Senior Celebration on June 2. From left, are graduating senior Maiya Minatani, Gear Up Coordinator Lisa Hall, and graduating seniors Jayden Minatani and Taya Backus. (Empire Press photo/Adrienne Douke)


By Adrienne Douke
Empire Press Correspondent

Maiya Minatani walks the hall in her white cap and gown at the first annual Mansfield Senior Celebration June 2 at the school. (Empire Press photo/Adrienne Douke)

Mansfield School started a new tradition with a Senior Celebration for graduating students on June 2.

Students in grades K-11 participated in the event by waving homemade flags and balloons and expressing their congratulations and support as the three graduating seniors walked past them down the hall wearing their white caps and gowns.

It was an exciting time for parents, students and faculty to show their support to the school?s graduating students. All that hard work paid off, and now the reward of graduation was close at hand.

The graduating seniors were Taya Backus, and twins Maiya and Jayden Minatani.

The event was organized by Lisa Hall, GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs)?coordinator.

?We wanted to start a tradition of celebrating our graduates? accomplishments as a school event,” she said. “As a GEAR UP coordinator, it’s part of my job to build a?college-going culture. I believe it’s important for all of our students from kindergarten through eleventh grade to see our Mansfield graduates going to college and pursuing their dreams.”

After the procession that led through the elementary hallway to the high school wing, the seniors were invited to the school cafeteria to speak in front of students, parents, friends and staff. The graduating students were seated under a decorated podium with a banner above. They told the audience about their future plans. Then they thanked their parents, classmates and school staff for the support and encouragement they received.

Refreshments following the event included petite vanilla cupcakes, with buttercream frosting, and cookies.

Principal Shane Bird said, ?It?s great for me in my first year as a principal at Mansfield School to see these three girls graduate and pursue their unique paths into higher education. I?m very proud of them.?

Taya Backus will attend Wenatchee Valley College to earn her AA degree before transferring to Central Washington University where she plans to pursue a degree in early childhood development. Her dream is to become an elementary school teacher.

Backus said, “As I leave this school on Friday, I’ll remember my good friends, our faculty and the love and support you have shown me here.” Through tears, she concluded, “Thanks everyone for making my school years here the best years of my life.”

Maiya Minatani will attend Olympic College to earn her AA degree before transferring to Western Washington University. She will major in computer science. Her dream is to become a video programmer and software engineer.

Maiya’s message was to, “Accept yourself, embrace your own unique craziness, and don’t worry about what other people think of you.”

Jayden Minatani will attend Central Washington University where she will major in music composition. Her dream is to compose music for films and video games.

?It?s been awesome here. I?ve gone to a lot of different schools, and this one is the best. I?m excited to go to college and major in music,? Jayden said.

Mansfield Superintendent Cora Nordby concluded saying, ?We?re very proud of these three girls. They?ve been exceptional students. They all have great plans for the future and we wish them the best in all their endeavors. This event shares with the younger students the vision of graduating from school and pursuing a college degree. We think it?s important as educators that our kids see post secondary education in their future, and the Senior Celebration is one way to demonstrate that.?