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Franklin County girl only graduate to participate in Washtucna commencement

Calby Ann VanHallebeke selected as Class of 2020 valedictorian

WASHTUCNA — A dark and mostly empty gymnasium didn’t take away from Calby Ann VanHollebeke’s evening Saturday.

As the only member of the Class of 2020 to show up for graduation, VanHollebeke of Kahlotus took the sole seat on the stage, helped by her brother, Jess VanHollebeke, who served as the graduation column leader.

Only four family members and a handful of School District employees were present for the Pomp and Circumstance that was also live broadcast in a digital format for those who could not attend.

The remaining members of the Class of 2020, Daphnee Smith and Emma Hulett, were unable to attend the ceremony.

VanHollebeke, the valedictorian, teared up at times during commencement, and laughed at others, including the portion in which teacher Staci Gloyn attempted to rap on stage.

Wearing sunglasses and a backwards baseball cap, Gloyn rapped to the rhythm of “Guns and Ships,” calling her tune “Lungs and Lips.”

Gloyn rapped about “this blue-haired girl we know and love.”

She also sang about the VanHollebeke’s grades, drive and plan to attend University of Missoula this fall.

“You know we’ve got your back

Get your UM life on track

Time to break the Washtucna fetter

But the sooner the better

To get your own life on track

Calby Ann VanHollenbeke”

Gloyn was one of four speakers. The others included new Superintendent Todd Spear, teacher Micheal Dorman and VanHollebeke herself.

Gloyn also read a letter from school counselor Kellie Lassiter.

In her letter, Lassiter encouraged the Class of 2020 to “fail big.”

“Failure, is perhaps, one of the best ways we learn and grow as humans,” Lassiter wrote. “Failure says to me that you tried. You tried something new, scary or different and it just didn’t work out. But the try is so very important.”

In her own speech, VanHollebeke recalled making history in Washtucna schools, resulting in the state naming Palouse Falls as the “state waterfall.”

“… Not many kinds have those kinds of bragging rights,” she said during her speech. “We have to continue taking chances and finding opportunities.”

VanHollebeke also thanked her teachers for making her who she is today, noting that since “you only live once,” she’s not going to take her shot at bigger things.

Those bigger things start this fall for the valedictorian, who is planning to attend University of Montana in Missoula.

See the Ritzville Journal online for VanHollebeke’s full graduation speech.

Author Bio

Roger Harnack, Publisher

Author photo

Roger Harnack is the co-owner/publisher of Free Press Publishing. Having grown up Benton City, Roger is an award-winning journalist, photographer, editor and publisher. He's one of only two editorial/commentary writers from Washington state to ever receive the international Golden Quill. Roger is dedicated to the preservation of local media, and the voice it retains for Eastern Washington.


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