Published May 28, 2017
FORT DEFIANCE – The Window Rock High School class of 2017 is no longer a group of high school students but is now alumni.
As the class of 120 received high school diplomas Friday morning in front of family, friends, teachers and Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez at the Bee Holdzil Fighting Scouts Event Center, students expressed love for their school, classmates and optimism for the future.
Master of ceremonies Taylor Abasta led the march of his classmates as they entered. Before the ceremony started the Fort Lewis College-bound student said he will be majoring in journalism and multimedia.
“I’m going to miss the atmosphere here,” said Abasta.
For the past four years Abasta was a member of the high school basketball team.
Like Abasta, class valedictorian Jade Okute Win Goodwill, who has been accepted to Stanford University, and D’Ovionn RaShan Wagner, who will be attending Northern Arizona University, played sports.
In her valedictorian address, Goodwill reflected on the four years of high school with her classmates and encouraged them on their future paths.
Goodwill was selected as the Arizona Interscholastic Association student of the year and Gallup Rotary student of the year. She ran track and cross-country.
“Twelve years of school, about 18 years of life, but just one day to graduate – it is crazy how time works that way,” said Goodwill. “Take pride in how far you have come and have faith in how far you will go.”
“The sports program here is fun,” said Wagner. “You become close to a lot of the girls and it’s sad leaving.”
Wagner, who played on the girls’ basketball team, plans to major in exercise science with an emphasis in physical therapy.
Ryan Dodson was a Navajo government and history teacher as well as cross-country and track coach and senior class sponsor. He had taught or coached some of the seniors since they were in middle school. He said it was particularly special to see the class graduate.
“We looped back with them, we taught them when they were eighth graders and so now we have them as seniors,” said Dodson. “It adds a special sentiment.”
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the Navajo Times. Used with permission. All rights reserved.