The fourth and final commencement ceremony for the four high schools in West Seattle was a double farewell. Tonight at Memorial Stadium downtown, Chief Sealth International High School said goodbye not only to its 249 2021 graduates, but also to principal Aida Fraser-Hammer, who’s retiring after 8 years at CSIHS.
“I’m graduating with you,” she declared, while saluting a long list of individual grads and groups for achievements including academics – 68 National Honor Society members and 27 International Baccalaureate diploma recipients – and athletics, music, languages, even cooking. She praised programs and classes from Proyecto Saber and šəqačib to Mock Trial. The student speaker was Khalia Tenari:
She noted the historic events the class had experienced – not just “the two-week break that turned into a year” – but also the fight for racial and gender equity, and more. “Who would have thought our lives would turn into a rollercoaster of historic moments?” On a more personal note, she urged all her classmates to keep a strong sense of self-worth, to “know that the world would be a little dimmer without you in it.” And there were heartfelt words from the staff speaker, teacher Gentle Tassione:
She spoke of a big life change after 16 years teaching at a school in a town where she’d long lived. “Say yes – say yes to change, say yes to something new. … Ask yourself the question, ‘What do I really want?’ … Whatever you love, keep saying it out loud … and when those doors fly open for you, go through them.”
Their departing principal affirmed hope for their future; “We are Seahawks, we are made to soar high.”\