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Cedarcrest Celebrates The Class of 2021 Valedictorians and Salutatorians...In Their Own Words

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Tai/Jenn Tai & Co.
  • "We are proof that perseverance is never for nothing.” - Maddy Hoffman

  • "We were given four years to create something special." - Grace McKenzie

  • "Class of '21 - always remember your growth will come in waves...and there will be days, much like today, which prove just how far you have come." - Katelyn Berberich

  • "What really will define our capacity for kindness, our overwhelming charity to those around us and those in need. Our loyalty and commitment to friendships. Our preseverance through unbelievably hard times." - Kyle Stupfel

Quotes such as these from Valedictorian and Salutatorian speeches at Cedarcrest graduation, combined with so many more below, offer a glimpse into the minds of the graduates in the Class of 2021 from Cedarcrest High School. This year, an unprecedented 20 students earned distinction as Valedictorians (14) and Salutatorians (6).

The Class of 2021 "Vals" and "Sals" are: Valedictorians: Craig Bauman, Katelyn Berberich, Harold Ellis, Zachary Freiheit, Katherine Fulton, Elisabeth Hegewald, Christie Kosters, Grace McKenzie, Nicolette Natividad, Kyle Stupfel, Claire Thompson, Allison Wasley, Carmen Weatherman, Makenna White. Salutatorians: Tessa Baldwin, Daniel Nordgren, Rannan Shafiei, Daniel Lee, John Meier, Madeline Hoffmann.

Optimism was high, following the Class of 2020 car processional graduation, that the Class of 2021 would receive a more traditional graduation ceremony. In a pandemic, words like "traditional" have next to no meaning, so Cedarcrest staff, when planning a ceremony for this year's graduates, redesigned the annual commencement event for Cedarcrest Stadium, This year's graduates became the first to graduate in their home stadium. Naturally, the rains came down hard for the opening portions of the ceremony. And yet, like so many things the Class of 2021 has experienced together, they took these challenges in stride and made the evening unforgettable. Smiles, happiness, relief, and excitement filled the stadium. Tears, hugs, and a sense of community returned as parents/guardians, graduates, teachers, staff, and administration all celebrated, in person and together, this most resilient of graduating classes.

As graduation drew closer, and similar to years' past, all of this year's "Vals and Sals" were provided with questions prepared by our Director of Communications, Mike Ward. Ten of this year's Valedictorians and Salutatorians provided their thoughts on graduation, the new chapters they are preparing to write for themselves, and their individual experiences which collectively brought them to the graduation stage.

Some were succinct, others had more to share. Through coordination with Cedarcrest principal Ray LaBate, we are proud to share with you the words and thoughts and reflections of ten of this year's Class of 2021 Valedictorians and Salutatorians.



Craig has attended Riverview since kindergarten. He will be attending Washington State University this fall, majoring in Mechanical Engineering.

ON CONFIRMATION OF VALEDICTORIAN STATUS: “I knew that my grades have been all 'A''s every semester, so it wasn't really a surprise. I was happy to have it confirmed, but I did know it was coming."

THE SACRIFICES MADE TO GET TO THIS POINT: “I've always tried to maintain a policy of doing my Monday homework on Monday, which has led to some long nights along the way.” ACTIVITIES IN AND OUT OF SCHOOL: ”During my years at Cedarcrest, I have been involved in jazz band, marching band, and performed in the pit band for the spring musical." THE COLLEGE PROCESS: “The college process is confusing. I have never really understood what's going on, but I did get into the college I wanted and they have offered some really nice scholarships. I'm pretty happy.” TEACHERS WHO MADE AN IMPACT: “Mr. Hughes (Breland Hughes, Band/Music) motivated me to learn new skills and new instruments. The band community, as a whole, has made me feel like I belong and they have been great.” IF AN INCOMING FRESHMAN ASKED YOU FOR ADVICE, YOU WOULD SAY...:

“Do your Monday homework on Monday. Push yourself, but don't take on more than you can handle.” ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS: “I'm ready for a new learning environment, a new area to explore, and a new community to join and grow in.”



Elizabeth has attended Riverview School District for all thirteen years. She will be attending Brigham Young University (Provo) (BYU) in the fall. She is looking into studying Psychology once she gets to college.

ON CONFIRMATION OF VALEDICTORIAN STATUS: "I received an email from Mr. LaBate and was pretty excited to see that the work I had been doing throughout high school had paid off.”

THE SACRIFICES MADE TO GET TO THIS POINT: “I had to take school work pretty seriously. Overall, I would say it wasn't so much of a sacrifice. The most important thing for me was just talking to my teachers and building positive relationships with them and communicating what my goals in their class happened to be. They always helped me to make sure I could achieve them.”

ACTIVITIES IN AND OUT OF SCHOOL: “I have participated in cross-country, Random Acts of Kindness, as well as my own church and youth activities.”

THE COLLEGE PROCESS: “For me, I have always known I wanted to go to school at BYU and so this year, when I was picking schools to apply to, I knew that was my first choice. I put a lot of work into my applications and my parents were a huge help in making sure I got all the steps down the way I was supposed to. Overall, the college process has just been applying, visiting the school, and learning more about what I wanted to do in the future.”

TEACHERS WHO MADE AN IMPACT: “All of my teachers have had a huge impact on me. I feel like every time I started in a new class or met a new teacher, their goal was to help me and other students succeed. The teachers in Riverview, for the most part, have worked really hard to create a learning environment that gives students opportunities, if they choose to take advantage of them. Students really can be as successful as they can in their education in this district.”

IF AN INCOMING FRESHMAN ASKED YOU FOR ADVICE, YOU WOULD SAY...: “Always communicate with your teachers. They want to help you because that is their job! You don't have to make as many sacrifices as you might think, in order to do well in school. Organize your time properly and decide what your priorities are. I feel like I was able to make a lot of memories and still got to hang out with friends all the time, while having extra free time even after finishing school work.”

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS: “The people in this community are incredibly supportive to each other and that has shows as we have lost multiple students over the last couple of years. This community really comes together to make sure everyone is okay and to help those wo are struggling.”



Maddy has been in the Riverview School District since kindergarten and will be attending the Colorado School of Mines in the fall. She will be studying Engineering Physics as a major and Computer Science as her minor.

ON CONFIRMATION OF SALUTATORIAN STATUS: “I learned I was a Salutatorian in an email from Mr. LaBate and was very happy and proud of how far I had come!"

THE SACRIFICES MADE TO GET TO THIS POINT: “This took many sleepless nights, long evenings of homework, cramming homework in before school, and making the most out of the time and resources I had available. Most importantly, it took asking a lot of questions and admitting when I needed help with something, so I could get the knowledge I needed to succeed.”

ACTIVITIES IN AND OUT OF SCHOOL: “I have been in Marching Band all four years, participated in the Bellevue Youth Symphony for three years, and performed as a drummer in the Snowflake Lane parade (in Bellevue) for two years. Additionally, I have performed with Affinity Indoor Percussion for two years and have avidly mountain-biked for the entire duration as well!”

THE COLLEGE PROCESS: “Overall, it wasn't too stressful for me. I applied to one college, got accepted to that same college, and will be attending that school in the fall.”

TEACHERS WHO MADE AN IMPACT: “All of my teachers have impacted my life in great ways. My most beloved teachers include: Mr. Miyoshi (Mike Miyoshi, Career & Technical Education teacher), for always believing in me more than I believed in myself. Mr. McDowell (Bruce McDowell, Mathematics), for being approachable and always answering my millions of questions during math class. Mr. Hughes, for providing the foundation for a band program that provided me with a second family I will cherish for the rest of my life. And Mr. Guyer (Justin Guyer, Science) for sparking my love of Physics and setting me on the Physics path I will continue on for the next six years.”

IF AN INCOMING FRESHMAN ASKED YOU FOR ADVICE, YOU WOULD SAY...: “Do not be afraid to ask questions when you need to. Always move forward with an open mind. Being willing and eager to learn in both academic and non-academic parts of your life is a character trait that is priceless.”

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS: “It will be sad to leave this community; I have always felt well-loved and included by everyone. I know they will support me no matter where I go. And I am graduated - that seems so unreal to say!”



Daniel has attended Riverview schools since kindergarten and will be attending the University of California-Berkeley in the fall. He will be studying computer science.

ON CONFIRMATION OF SALUTATORIAN STATUS: “I knew I was a Salutatorian by looking at my grades pretty regularly, and when it was official I felt relieved.”

THE SACRIFICES MADE TO GET TO THIS POINT: “Staying up late in order complete some of my assignments on time.”

ACTIVITIES IN AND OUT OF SCHOOL: “I have been involved in Cedarcrest Marching Band, Boy Scouts, NHS (National Honor Society), TSA (Technology Student Association), Tri-M (Music Honors Society), Robotics, Japanese Club, French Club, and have taken piano lessons.”

THE COLLEGE PROCESS: “Throughout the process, it has gone smoothly.”

TEACHERS WHO MADE AN IMPACT: “All of my teachers made an impact on me one way or another.”


“Do not be afraid to ask your teachers for help or for clarification.”

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS: “I feel close to this community, so I am a little sad to leave. On the other hand however, I am excited for school in the fall.”



Nicolette has attended Riverview for twelve years, joining the district in first grade. She will be attending the University of Washington - Bothell, pursuing a major in Media and Communications and a minor in Performance.

ON CONFIRMATION OF VALEDICTORIAN STATUS: “I learned I was a Valedictorian when I reached out to Mrs. Jennings (Sherry Jennings, College & Career Specialist) to inquire what my class rank was so I could fill out college applications. I received an email back informing me I was ranked #1 in the class because I had maintained a 4.0 GPA. I was so ecstatic when Mr. LaBate further confirmed this via email and I immediately forwarded it to my parents to inform them as well. I was excited to see so many other Valedictorians and Salutatorians at our first Zoom meeting, as there is such a large amount of us this year!”

ACTIVITIES IN AND OUT OF SCHOOL: “During my freshman and sophomore years, I was a part of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and Cedarcrest Volleyball - FBLA Secretary and team captain by the end of my sophomore year. At the end of my freshman year, I was inducted into Thespian Society and have participated in two Dinner Theatre productions, two musicals, a CHS/Brothers Duvall joint production, while and competed in Thespian State. During quarantine, I was a part of Cascade Community Theatre's production of Anne of Green Gables. My junior year, I became a Running Start student at Cascadia College, and I will also be graduating with my Associate's Degree in Integrated Studies at the end of this quarter.”

TEACHERS WHO MADE AN IMPACT: “I would say Mr. Mullinnex (Seth Mullinnex, Drama) has had a big impact in my time at Cedarcrest. Taking a few of his classes freshman year, and being a part of Thespian Society, has helped me to realize and expand my passion for acting and performance. He has also been so supportive and helpful in my endeavors.”

IF AN INCOMING FRESHMAN ASKED YOU FOR ADVICE, YOU WOULD SAY...: “High school is the time to branch out and try new things. If you are interested in joining clubs, taking new classes, or really anything you may want to try, go for it! Now is the time to see what you enjoy and you definitely should pursue it. You will be able to meet new people and get the most out of your time in high school by doing so!”

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS: “We have all been in quite the situation for well over a year now. The school year feels like it has come and gone so quick, I am barely feeling able to realize that graduation is happening. It feels both scary and exciting to be graduating already.”



Daniel has attended Riverview for 10 years and will be attending the University of Washington in the fall. Though Daniel remains undecided about his major, he will be deciding between Biochemistry and Neuroscience.

ON CONFIRMATION OF SALUTATORIAN STATUS: “Once I got my 'A-', I knew the chance to be Valedictorian was no more. Since then, I guess I've always known I would be a Salutatorian, but it was definitely a good feeling when it was made official.”

THE SACRIFICES MADE TO GET TO THIS POINT: “I haven't really thought about any sacrifices I have made, but probably the biggest sacrifice is time.”

ACTIVITIES IN AND OUT OF SCHOOL: "I have been involved in Boy Scouts, as well as drumming in the school band. I also have marched and drummed in an independent marching percussion group in Portland, Oregon.”

THE COLLEGE PROCESS: “For me, I only applied to two colleges, so I would have to say the process have probably been easier for me than for others.”

TEACHERS WHO MADE AN IMPACT: “Mr. Hughes has had the biggest impact on my time through the music program at Cedarcrest. What I learned through music has transferred to all areas of my life.”

IF AN INCOMING FRESHMAN ASKED YOU FOR ADVICE, YOU WOULD SAY...: “Invest your time in things you enjoy and things that can get you where you want to go in life. At the end of the day, all that we have to give is time. Also, get at least decent grades in high school since it will only provide you with more opportunities and choices.”

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS: “I feel very close to this community and leaving for school is very bittersweet. That I am now a graduate has not sunk in at all!”



Kyle has attended Riverview schools for twelve years and will be attending the University of Oregon this coming fall. He plans on majoring in Neuroscience.

ON CONFIRMATION OF VALEDICTORIAN STATUS: “I received an email from Mr. LaBate confirming I was a Valedictorian. I was very excited and also relieved because it meant that I had finally achieved what I wanted to achieve."

THE SACRIFICES MADE TO GET TO THIS POINT: “I have sacrificed a lot of long nights and spending time with friends and family.”

ACTIVITIES IN AND OUT OF SCHOOL: “I have been involved with LINK Crew, basketball, football, golf, and cross-country.”

THE COLLEGE PROCESS: “The college process was somewhat difficult because there's lots of questions and essays that you have to write.”

TEACHERS WHO MADE AN IMPACT: “I really appreciated the class, as well as the time I spent with Mr. Guyer - both as a teacher and a coach. He was always there for us and pushed us to improve and get better.”


“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS: “Graduation will not really sink in for me until I have to wake up and not go to class anymore. Though I do not live in Carnation or Duvall, I feel connected to this community - it's always been very welcoming and everyone is friendly. I am ready for new experiences and furthering my education.”



Claire has attended Riverview School District since kindergarten, and will be attending Brigham Young University (Provo) (BYU) this fall. She is currently planning on majoring in Animation, but is open to exploring other areas of study.

ON CONFIRMATION OF VALEDICTORIAN STATUS: “I was aware of my GPA, so it wasn't too much of a shocker. Receiving Mr. LaBate's confirmation email made me excited, grateful, and a little relieved.”

THE SACRIFICES MADE TO GET TO THIS POINT: “Most of the sacrifices I made were with time - spending time on class work than other things I could have been doing."

ACTIVITIES IN AND OUT OF SCHOOL: "I was involved in NHS, Literary Club, Marching Band, golf, and Young Women - my church's youth organization."

THE COLLEGE PROCESS: “My college process has been pretty straightforward. I have always wanted to go to BYU, so it was an easy decision when I was accepted. I am really excited that I get to attend.”

TEACHERS WHO MADE AN IMPACT: “At Cedarcrest, Mr. Fassler (Daniel Fassler, English/Language Arts) and Mr. Schenk (Tony Schenk, English/Language Arts) had a huge impact on the way I look at literature. Mr. Briggs (Loren Briggs, Social Studies) and Mr. Armstrong (Dan Armstrong, Social Studies) really impacted the way I see the world. Mrs. Descheemaeker (Andrea Descheemaeker, Art) has been a huge influence as well, inspiring me to embrace and explore my artistic side. Really, the list is a lot longer than this - there were so many teachers that helped me to love learning and to become a better version of myself. Beyond Cedarcrest, my time with Mrs. Cruz (Ruth Cruz, Tolt Middle School) and Mrs. Isler (Christie Isler, Carnation Elementary) was incredibly formative and important to me."


"Do not be afraid to branch out and try new things, or to change course if something is not working out for you. In high school, you have many more opportunities and a lot more power over what your life looks like. Don't let it go to waste!"

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS: “It feels pretty bizarre knowing that I will be gone in the fall. I will miss it here!”



Allison has attended Riverview for 13 years and will be attending Seattle University this coming fall. She plans on majoring in Biology.

ON CONFIRMATION OF VALEDICTORIAN STATUS: “I first learned I was a Valedictorian from Mr. LaBate's email and I was very excited. I have hoped for the last few years thay I would be able to keep my grades up and pull off being a Valedictorian. I was thrilled to learn that it was official."

THE SACRIFICES MADE TO GET TO THIS POINT: “I definitely sacrificed some time with friends and family in order to focus on school work. For the most part, it didn't really feel like a sacrifice because my closest friends are also very academically focused.”

ACTIVITIES IN AND OUT OF SCHOOL: "At Cedarcrest, I was involved in National Honor Society, Thespian Society, Future Business Leaders of America for two years, and volleyball briefly for one year. Outside of school, I spent a lot of time volunteering at Stillwater Elementary and working with children.”

THE COLLEGE PROCESS: “The process could have gone a bit smoother for me had I planned ahead more. I ended up making a lot of last-minute decisions and creating more stress for myself than necessary. Everything worked out, but I definitely wish I had started the application process sooner.”

TEACHERS WHO MADE AN IMPACT: “Mr. Fassler definitely impacted me the most in my time both at Cedarcrest and in Riverview School District. I thoroughly enjoyed every day in his class and every assignment we did felt meaningful. I feel I not only improved my writing and expanded my knowledge of English in his class but also learned general things about life that I will take with me in the future. I have never had another class experience quite like Mr. Fassler's.”

IF AN INCOMING FRESHMAN ASKED YOU FOR ADVICE, YOU WOULD SAY...: "Consider the future, but also put things into perspective. Do not put too much pressure on yourself. I would urge incoming freshman to reflect on what areas they want to grow in and to try and step out of their comfort zones, even if it seems daunting.”

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS: “I am very happy that I cared about my grades during my first year or two, but do wish I had branched out earlier and tried new things other than school work. I think I have grown significantly since then, but when I first started high school, I was very afraid to do anything different for fear of judgment of others. As I leave for college soon, it is comforting to know that this community is still here (along with some friends and family) for me and I will always have this to come back to.”



Carmen has attended Riverview schools for thirteen years and will be attending the University of Washington this fall. She remains undecided on a major, but is interested in psychology, sociology, mathematics, video production, and storytelling. She is looking forward to exploring these areas of study in college and narrowing her focus.

ON CONFIRMATION OF VALEDICTORIAN STATUS: “My mom actually let me know earlier this year that if I kept my grades up, I would be a Valedictorian. It didn't really set in until the Spring though and when I found out, I was pleasantly surprised. My parents were very proud as well, which made me happy.”

THE SACRIFICES MADE TO GET TO THIS POINT: “There were times I had overwhelming amounts of homework and plenty of late nights working on school projects. However, I think I was able to keep a healthy balance between school, extracurricular activities, time with friends, and downtime.”

ACTIVITIES IN AND OUT OF SCHOOL: “I joined Thespian Society first thing my freshman year and have been very involved in CHS Theatre ever since. I have been a part of two fall plays, two spring musicals, four fundraising plays, and served as Public Relations Officer in Thespian Society my junior year. I was inducted into National Honors Society my sophomore year and have completed many hours of volunteer work through the club. I have also been a part of Western Washington Shotokan Karate Club and am a practicing second rank purple belt.”

THE COLLEGE PROCESS: "Applying to colleges was a lot of tedious work and then a lot of waiting. Once I was accepted to my top choice, it has been much more fun.”

TEACHERS WHO MADE AN IMPACT: “During elementary and middle school, Mrs. Gould (Carol Gould) was my Art, English, and Drama teacher at the Riverview Learning Center. She knew when to offer praise and when to challenge me to step outside my comfort zone; something very valuable that I would learn to do for myself later on. Mrs. Gould is also the main reason I began acting, kept pursuing acting, and made some of my best high school memories in theater. Mr. Mullinnex is the teacher and director who made everything in the Drama department happen. He put so much time and effort into every class and production, making it possible for us to explore the stage. Mrs. Blooming (Amy Blooming, English/Language Arts) was such a supportive teacher to all her freshmen students and she has been a kind and helpful advisor to me through the last four years. Mr. Fassler challenged me in the best way my Sophomore year, giving fascinating deconstructions of literature and with the material we read. Mr. Schenk offered an amazing literature class and even did so during remote learning. He was also very understanding with an excellent sense of humor. I always looked forward to Mr. Armstrong and his classes; his lectures always included good stories to keep our attention. Mr. Goldsberry (Scott Goldsberry, Social Studies) and his Psychology class had some of my favorite lectures and never failed to be interesting. Also, Mr. Briggs was a very understanding and supportive History teacher.”

IF AN INCOMING FRESHMAN ASKED YOU FOR ADVICE, YOU WOULD SAY...: “I would tell them what upperclassmen told me my first year of high school - get involved in some sort of club or activity and don't be afraid to ask questions. People like being helpful. I would also advise them to try and enjoy the moment and where they are right now, if possible, rather than wanting to be somewhere else in the future. I think that is the best way to experience high school.”

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS: “I am definitely going to miss the people and the community, I have lived in Duvall ever since I can remember. I am excited to meet new people and, since I will be attending school in Seattle, I will be back in Duvall pretty often.”



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