Each month, Dr. Zorn reaches out to our business community via the Kelso Longview Chamber of Commerce newsletter with information about the successes and challenges of our public schools.

Last month, Longview high schools graduated 421 seniors in front of proud family members and friends. It was my honor to address the crowds gathered on Saturday, June 17 at Longview Memorial Stadium for Mark Morris and R. A. Long high schools commencement ceremonies. Exercises for our Discovery High School students were held Monday, June 19 at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts. I am incredibly proud of all of our students and would like to share the message that I shared at this year’s graduation ceremonies.

On behalf of the Longview Pubic Schools, I’d like to welcome each of you to today’s graduation ceremony. This is an incredibly important day for our students. Their high school graduation is their first step into a bright and boundless future. Thank you for all that each of you have done to support them in this accomplishment.

I recently had the pleasure of sitting in on many Senior Presentations at each of our high schools and swelled with pride for the students we serve. I was particularly struck by the diversity of the experience each of our students shared. The students spoke of their experiences as scholars, thespians, builders, athletes, musicians, artists, leaders, employees, volunteers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters and grand-children. Students spoke of the challenges they have overcome. One spoke of persevering through homelessness, another of being their family’s first high school graduate, another spoke of the challenges they faced due to the loss of a loved one. Each had a unique story to tell but there was clearly a common thread in each of their success: Every one of them spoke about the positive impact a meaningful and caring adult had upon their success. Many of you have been that person, that loving and present adult who guided them towards their graduation. Thank you for caring enough to be that person. You have made an incredible difference in the lives of our students.

I also emerged from these presentations incredibly proud of our district’s educators. Our kids spoke repeatedly of the educators who positively impacted their lives and pushed them towards high levels of achievement. They spoke of their teachers from preschool to high school and expressed great appreciation for their nurturing guidance and their steadfast belief in the potential of each student. To our teachers and support staff, thank you.

Finally, my reflection upon the senior presentations reminded me of the great pride I have in being a public educator. Our mission is unique, we serve all kids, no matter their circumstance, no matter their abilities, no matter their challenge. Our focus moving forward is in continuing to build a system that is flexible and responsive, always focused upon meeting the unique needs of each of our students. I look forward to working with the Longview community as we continually strive towards this ideal.

To our graduates, you have much to be proud of, and more to look forward to. I hope that we have taught you to read, to listen, to think, and to seek. Never stop reading – through this you learn about your world and about yourself, Never stop listening – listen to understand, through this you are able to effectively serve, love, and respond. Never stop thinking – think critically – demand proof, demand reason, and always demand kindness. And finally, never stop seeking – pursue your dreams and find the beauty in our world and its people. Beauty is everywhere, however, you need to seek it, and when you find it, share.

Congratulations and good luck. You have much to celebrate, but please be safe.