In just a few weeks, we will celebrate the graduation of more than 430 seniors at Curtis High School. These students are among the most well-rounded, highest performing, best prepared students in our state. The Curtis High School class of 2017 is composed of scholars, musicians, athletes, performers, cadets, activists, artists, leaders and community servants. In fact, this graduating class tallied more than 31,000 hours of community service during their time in high school. More than 75 percent of graduates are likely to attend college in their first year after graduation–one of the higher rates in the state. Others will engage their talents in the workplace, with family, in our military or elsewhere. With a Curtis diploma in hand, every one of these students will depart CHS ready to actively and positively contribute as citizens of our democracy- an outcome that defines the primary mission of our school district.
At graduation, we will celebrate individual achievements and we will cheer for our Vikings as they walk across the stage and receive a diploma. We should also cheer for one another. The success of our Curtis graduates is a result of the work and attention of a community. First and foremost, parents, grandparents, siblings and other family members should be proud. It takes a team of committed, loving people to raise a successful graduate and families play the first, and most important, role on each student’s team. Educators should also be proud. Teachers and staff members across our community, in every school, day care, and preschool program, have contributed to the growth and development of students in the Class of 2017. Sixteen of these seniors recently spoke to our Board of Directors and many named particular educators in their lives who provided essential support, guidance and encouragement.
Graduation is not just a collection of individual successes. It is also a community accomplishment that is earned, in part, by the efforts of every citizen of University Place regardless of whether or not they have a child, grandchild or relative in the schools. Public schools are reflections of the communities they serve. The best schools are created in places where citizens are willing to selflessly and generously invest in kids.
Financial support of public schools in the form of levies and bonds is a key component of this investment, but not the only component. While we are extremely grateful for the long and steadfast financial support of UP citizens, we are equally thankful for the deeper civic, moral and emotional investment in children and learning that characterizes University Place. Parents and community members in UP regularly invest their time, energy and expertise as volunteers, coaches, tutors, counselors and cheerleaders. The care and concern demonstrated by these citizens makes our community a stronger, safer and more inclusive place. Faith-based organizations and service clubs such as Tacoma Narrows Rotary, Lions and Kiwanis also play an important role in the development of Curtis graduates. The support and guidance given to students and families by these groups is yet another essential community investment.
I invite all citizens and stakeholders of University Place to celebrate our graduates this year, knowing that all of us play a part in securing a bright future for our students and, in turn, for our community. If you would like to join us at commencement ceremonies at the Tacoma Dome on Friday, June 16 at 7 p.m., please contact Curtis High School at (253) 566-5710 for tickets.
Jeff Chamberlin is the superintendent of the University Place School District.