When senior Mariya Gaither stepped up to the podium at Rogers High School’s Decision Day assembly on Tuesday, she addressed a group of more than 250 fellow seniors who had made decisions on the directions their lives would go after high school.
“We have one more hurdle between us and adulthood,” Gaither told the group.
The hurdle, she said, was graduation. And after graduation, they each had a postsecondary education plan in place, committing to the U.S. military, four-year colleges, two-year colleges, technical schools and apprenticeships across the country.
“Decision Day celebrates students moving on to the next level,” said Colleen Pancake, the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) teacher who brought Decision Day to Rogers High School last year.
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“We want to honor and recognize our students who have communicated a postsecondary plan,” said Rogers High School Principal Jason Smith. “It’s so much fun. It’s especially fun to see our seniors. We’ve seen them grow since sophomore year.”
We want to honor and recognize our students who have communicated a postsecondary plan. It’s so much fun. It’s especially fun to see our seniors. We’ve seen them grow since sophomore year.
Jason Smith, Rogers High School principal
Decision Day is connected to former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative. Out of more than 500 seniors at Rogers, about half participated. That’s 100 more than last year.
“In order to participate, students have to give us proof that they have a post-high school plan,” Pancake said.
Seniors sported their postsecondary education gear to the gym, where they were separated into groups for East Coast/Midwest schools, West Coast schools, Washington schools, two-year colleges and technical schools and military branches. University of Washington, Washington State University, Pacific Lutheran University, Eastern Washington University and Central Washington University were colleges with the largest groups for student commitments.
250 Rogers High School seniors participated in Decision Day
Seniors were cheered on by fellow classmates, family members, staff and more than 20 institution representatives.
UW admissions counselor Joseph Franco was one of the school representatives that attended to welcome new students.
“I get to congratulate students and welcome them to the Husky family,” Franco said.
For many students, the process of deciding where to spend their next few years was a difficult one. Senior Deanna Colon attended Decision Day last year and said it was her favorite assembly. When it came time to decide for herself, she took into account scholarships and school locations, finally committing to The Evergreen State College in Olympia, where she wants to study biology.
“It was the best option for me,” Colon said, advising her underclassmen to do the same. “Follow your heart when it comes to schools. Do what’s best for you.”
It was the best option for me. Follow your heart when it comes to schools. Do what’s best for you.
Deanna Colon, Rogers High School senior
Other students already knew where they wanted to go. Being part of a military family meant senior Jacob Doyle always knew he wanted to commit to joining the Army.
“It’s been my dream to serve,” he said. “It’s been a goal of mine.”
Doyle advised underclassmen not to wait when it comes to searching for postsecondary education opportunities. Senior Taylor Williams, who committed to WSU, advised applying for colleges far and wide.
“Apply to a lot of colleges that really interest you,” she said.
As Gaither wrapped up her speech at the assembly, she urged underclassmen to move forward with no regrets.
“To my fellow classmates, we were once you guys,” she said. “We were standing in your shoes a year ago.”
“I love the beginning (of the assembly) when the students come in, and seeing everyone supportive of our kids,” Pancake said. “Seeing students excited about what they’re doing next year — that’s what I love the most.”