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Ride of passage: Moses Lake High School sends off 2021 graduating class with parade ceremony

| June 14, 2021 1:07 AM

The Moses Lake High School class of 2021 made its way across town from Grant County Fairgrounds Friday afternoon to six locations to celebrate with a graduation parade for the second year in a row.

Students from the high school’s 75th graduating class departed the fairgrounds around 4 p.m., accompanied by family and friends, with vehicles draped in signs, balloons and streamers.

Seniors shared photos and hugs with friends, doing their best to keep out of a spattering rain. A few graduates talked about wrapping up their final year at MLHS.

Madi Olson wasn’t too far away from her former softball teammates in line as she waited for the parade to start. Olson said the ceremony was definitely different.

“I never expected to graduate like this, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime moment and no other class will experience a year like this,” Olson said. “I kind of like being unique.”

Laurissa Martinez will join Olson, her longtime teammate, in college next season. Martinez said it’s the sporting events she’ll miss most.

“Even just being in the tribe, if you’re watching another game is something you’ll never get back,” Martinez said. “Obviously, things are never going to be the same, so I’m just glad I was able to cherish these moments playing with my friends or cheering in the crowd. I’ll definitely miss it.”

Oscar Baeza wrapped up his senior year completely online. Baeza said he was pretty nervous the night before graduation and didn’t sleep well.

“I was digital the whole year, but it’s weird,” Baeza said. “Tomorrow, I don’t have to wake up early for school anymore. Tomorrow I will make decisions on what I want to do. I’m ready for it, but I don’t know if I’m ready to let go.”

Rylee Mcknight said it was disappointing to see the rain on Friday afternoon dampening things a bit, but the moment was exciting. Mcknight said her mom has probably been the biggest influence for her to reach graduating.

Now, she gets set to go to Big Bend Community College with plans to pursue a career as an ultrasound technician.

Moses Lake High School Principal Triscia Hochstatter said things inevitably went more smoothly this year with the graduation parade, after putting on the event for the first time last year. However, this year’s ceremony had a few changes, including allowing graduates to choose which of the six sites they wanted to go to.

Also, seniors had to complete the official senior checkout process to make sure students met all graduation requirements, whereas last year everyone was able to participate, regardless.

“The logistics were a little tighter this year, but it went way smoother at the fairgrounds because we just knew the lay of the land,” Hochstatter said. “People I had working on graduation behind the scenes did a phenomenal job.”

Hochstatter said there were concerns about this graduating class missing out on some learning opportunities, given the circumstances surrounding this school year. But the 2021 class overcame, and she said she thinks students learned a lot and deserve to be applauded for their achievement.

“For them to complete all of their studies and continue to come and now they’re graduated and off, I hope they feel a sense of pride, too, and a sense of accomplishment,” Hochstatter said.

More photos from Moses Lake High School's 2021 graduation may be found here.

Casey McCarthy can be reached at cmccarthy@columbiabasinherald.com.