Opinion

Verbatim: The Valedictorians

Clockwise, from top left: Makayla Bentz, Allison Masangkay, Angela Bentley and Wilson Eiland.  - Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell
Clockwise, from top left: Makayla Bentz, Allison Masangkay, Angela Bentley and Wilson Eiland.
— image credit: Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell

Sequim High School has four valedictorians this year, each boasting a 4.0 grade-point average: Angela Bentley, Makayla Bentz, Wilson Eiland and Allison Masangkay.

Graduation ceremonies are scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, June 13, at the SHS stadium complex near Fir Street.

Here, the valedictorians tell about an experience or experiences during their high school years that had a profound impact on their lives:

 

Angela Bentley

“I caught my first glimpse of the Manhattan skyline at 13 on a bus from the Newark Airport. The city that I had dreamed and read about was suddenly in front of me. Over the next few days I fell in love. The bustle and energy exhilarated me.

I never wanted to leave.

I then realized I wanted to attend school in an environment vastly different from the one I grew up in and NYC was more inspiring than any other city I had ever visited.

Later, when my cousin was graduating from Columbia (University) I was there for his graduation. It was an incredible experience, both the vibrant city and the Ivy League university. All the Columbia colleges have separate graduations and Obama was speaking at Barnard’s. We were all a bit jealous because I had never heard of the guy speaking at my cousin’s graduation. All the colleges were together the next day for the commencement and it was amazing with that sea of blue filing past the Alma Mater statue in front of the library.

I guess that is when I decide to attend. I have been back several times since then and last summer attended a liberal arts intensive at Barnard. I lived in the dorms and explored the city.

After a bit more research I chose Barnard for college and that was the only application I wrote. I am very excited.”

Allison Masangkay

“This past winter break, some of the best hours of my life were spent listening to Beyoncé’s latest album. As a devout Beyoncé fan and young woman of color, I’ve danced to, recited and praised her lyrics for over a decade, proclaiming the iconic pop star as a mighty powerful being and role model.

With the release of this album, however, she pronounced new vulnerabilities and insights. She isn’t just ‘crazy in love’ with her husband. She’s also ‘jealous’ that gets away with more unkept promises than her in their relationship. She isn’t just a ‘diva’ who can ‘run the world.’ She is, in the words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a ‘feminist: a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes’ and a mother who laments her past miscarriage.

Beyoncé is a human being like the rest of us, who has achieved paramount success and gained great recognition and popularity for it.

These contradictory characteristics proved themselves groundbreaking in pop music charts, record sales, the manifestation of feminism in pop culture and my own aspirations for success. Another poignant feature of the album for me was the insertion of audio from recordings of Beyoncé’s pageants and talent showcases. In each of them, her now practically household name is pronounced incorrectly by every person. Hearing the incorrect pronunciations of ‘Beyoncé’ reminded me of my own commonly mispronounced last name, ‘Masangkay.’

What propelled Beyoncé from a mistakable collection of letters to an unparalleled international brand? Success and unwavering conviction from its source. 

As a young, independent Filipino-American woman, I’ve had a fair share of myself exoticized or misconstrued — from my last name, to my food, to my point of view. However, after listening to the album BEYONCÉ, I learned that genuine success, progress, talent and activism can be universally understood and accepted. Now, as a valedictorian of Sequim High School’s Class of 2014, I’m poised to present myself to the world authentically and never compromise myself nor my family’s name. I now know that I have the potential to succeed at a high level like Beyoncé. Because I’m flawless. Because I’m a human being and I’m worth it. Because I’m Allison Masangkay.”

Wilson Eiland

“Some people have a definitive moment that they can look back on as their defining moment in high school. For me it is hard to pin down just one. It is the accumulation of all the memories that defined my experience. Every night I stayed up late doing homework, every day I went to work directly after school, every time I hung out with my friends.

All of these experiences shaped who I am today. It is the total experience of high school that I remember. The transition from a teenager into an adult is not one that I can simply narrow down into one memory one event. This transformation took place over all of my failures and all of my successes, everything I learned working together to help me grow as a person and make me into the man I am today.

All of these memories define my high school experience and they are ones that I will never forget.”

Makayla Bentz

“As my high school career quickly comes to an end, I often find myself looking back on these past four years. Of all the things that cross my mind, there is one moment in particular that stands out to me the most, one that encouraged me to set high goals for myself and gave me the determination and confidence to pursue those goals.

Softball has been a passion of mine since a very young age. My freshman year, I played on the junior varsity team for the majority of the season. I was a little disappointed, as it had been a goal of mine to be a full time varsity player, however, I didn’t let it affect me and I kept working hard throughout the season. By the time districts and state came around, I was asked to join the varsity team. I was not guaranteed any playing time. I was there as a backup pitcher, though nobody figured we would need one. When the state tournament came around, that all changed.

The state tournament consists of four games. We started off strong in the first game and had a comfortable lead by the end of the fifth inning. In the sixth inning, our usually dominant starting pitcher began to struggle. After numerous walked and hit batters, the game was tied up. Suddenly I heard my coach telling me to go warm up. I was going in the game. After throwing only three pitches, I made my way out onto the field, aware of the nervous looks on the faces of people around me. With two runners on base at the time I went in, we got out of the inning giving up two runs, giving them the lead. In the top of the seventh and final inning, we took the lead back by one run.

We then had to go back out on the field and hold them. I went back out into the pitching circle where I met my catcher, who attempted to comfort me, telling me that no matter how this game ended, it would not be my fault and I had done my job. I located my pitches where they were called. Three groundouts later, we won the game.

As I made my way off the field I was greeted with excited screams and hugs. My coaches and teammates told me I had saved them. Had we not won that first game, we wouldn’t have been able to win the state tournament. We were the first team in Sequim High School history to take first place in the state tournament.

At that moment, I truly understood what hard work paying off felt like. All of the long practices, camps I attended, books I read, videos I watched and off-season work I put in was worth it. Winning the state championship is a pretty good way to end your freshman year and start off your high school career. It was an experience I will never forget. That day, I found a new confidence within myself and realized the amount of potential I had. The lessons I learned that day are what I have carried with me throughout high school and have allowed me to reach the high goals and standards I have set for myself.”

 

Tell us a story

Everyone has a story and now they have a place to tell it. Verbatim is a first-person column that introduces you to your neighbors as they relate in their own words some of the difficult, humorous, moving or just plain fun moments in their lives. It’s all part of the Gazette’s commitment as your community newspaper. If you have a story for Verbatim, contact editor Michael Dashiell at editor@sequimgazette.com.

 

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Oct 29 edition online now. Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates