Class valedictorian Raja Estes is an enthusiastic and engaging young lady. A few moments of conversation with her and even the most curmudgeonly senior citizen starts to feel the future will be in good hands.

In the words of school counselor, Justin Laine, “Raja is a relentlessly hard working, self-directed, and goal-oriented student.”

During her four years of high school, Estes has earned a 3.96 cumulative grade point average. For the last two years, she has also participated in the Running Start program and has completed more than 100 credits of college courses through Grays Harbor College (online) and at Clatsop Community College. This past year, her courses have included Chemistry, Physics as well as Calculus I, II and III. Through it all, she has maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average in her college courses.

On June 3, Estes will graduate with both a high school diploma and an Associate of Arts transfer degree. She will attend the Seattle campus of the University of Washington and is awaiting word on possible acceptance in the UW Honors Program. Her current plan is to major in genetics.

“While I’m looking at genetics right now, I also have ideas of biology and I have ideas of business,” says Estes. “I don’t completely know, but at this point, my focus is on genetics. I’ve taken all of the main science courses creating a foundation of knowledge that should let me go in whichever direction I settle on.”

Born in Meknes, Morocco, Estes came to the U.S. as an infant. Her parents, Ronald and Rama Estes own and operate the Sleepy Hollow Motel in Naselle as well as a number or rental houses in the area.

“I have to say I’m grateful for the community, the school, the teachers, everything that they provided me and all the experiences I’ve had here,” said Estes. “Education at Naselle is clearly one of the best in Washington because the teachers care about you learning and they want you to succeed. If you are motivated enough and you want to succeed, you’ll go anywhere you want to go.”

“My classmates have been great. We’re all one big family because we’ve all grown up with each other and we’re all just like siblings.”

After she has completed her education and started her career, Estes would like to travel internationally and learn more first hand about the rest of the world and its people.

Kyryn Jacot is the 2017 class salutatorian. Spend a few moments with her in conversation and descriptors such as thoughtful, unassuming, focused, friendly and caring come to mind.

“Kyryn has taken our most rigorous courses and complemented them with online courses the past two years,” noted school counselor Justin Laine. “Throughout it all, she has earned a cumulative grade point average of 3.922. She is an outstanding young lady and a recipient of the American Legion Citizenship Award announced at this year’s ‘Evening of Excellence’ on May 23. Kyryn is this year’s senior class president and a member of our state qualifying Knowledge Bowl team the past two years. She has also been a participant in our Peer Helpers and Sources of Strength Programs (promote student safety and a positive school climate).”

Jacot will be attending Central Washington University this fall in pursuit of a degree in Biology.

“I really want to work with animals,” said Jacot. “It’s too early to tell the direction and activities that will entail. I’m drawn toward wildlife, so maybe a career as a wildlife biologist.”

Kyryn is the daughter of Scott and Rhiana Jacot. Scott is a Juvenile Probation Administrator in Pacific county and Rhiana is the secretary for the superintendent of the Naselle-Grays River Valley School District.

In addition to her studies, Jacot also played basketball and volleyball all four years and participated in track her freshman year.

“My experience here at school has been both fun and rewarding,” reported Jacot. “I’ve been here my whole life so it’s difficult to make a comparison, but I know the teachers and staff really want to see the students succeed. Regarding the class of 2017, we all get along together. We all like each other and there’s never really any problems. It’s fun to be around every one of them. I am going to miss all of them after high school.”

With a cumulative grade point average of 3.87, Ellie Chapman is ranked number three in her class. While that is an exceptional feat by itself, it is even more so in light of the fact she has been a standout athlete all four of her high school years in volleyball, basketball and track. With an effervescent personality and a ready smile, it’s easy to see why she is held in high regard by her peers.

A complete list of her athletic accomplishments would be lengthy indeed. This year alone, she was selected to participate in both the all-state basketball and volleyball games and qualified for state in all four of her events in track.

For the last two years, Chapman has been in the Running Start program and has earned an Associate of Arts transfer degree as well as her high school diploma. She has maintained straight As in her college courses.

This fall Chapman will attend Eastern Washington University to pursue a degree in Dental Hygiene.

“I’ll probably only have to go to Eastern for three years whereas it would have been four without my Running Start credits,” said Chapman. “I won’t have all my prerequisites so I can’t go directly into the program but the program is for two years.”

“I’ve been taking online courses through Grays Harbor College for the last two years. I like the online course approach a lot because I can still come to the high school instead of having to be at the college all the time. I kind of miss coming to the high school at times.”

“My experience here at school in Naselle has been really good. I’ve gone here all my life and it is a great school. It’s small and I feel like everyone cares about you. On the other hand,” she says with an infectious laugh, “for that same reason, you can’t get away with much.”

“Our class is a pretty close group and I will miss seeing each of them once we graduate and head off to pursue our futures.”

With a cumulative grade point average of 3.84, Tayler Ford is ranked number four in the class of 2017. Like Ellie Chapman, Ford is an athletic scholar having played volleyball, basketball and softball all three years since transferring from Warrenton High School at the beginning of her sophomore year.

As a member of the Running Start Program, Ford has earned straight A’s in her college courses over the past two years and, in addition to her high school diploma, has earned an Associate of Arts transfer degree from Grays Harbor College. This fall, she will attend Eastern Washington University to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice. After earning her University degree, she plans to work for the Washington State Patrol.

Upon her arrival at Naselle-Grays River Valley High School, Ford’s personality, wit and athletic interests helped her to quickly assimilate into the student body. She and Chapman struck up a friendship and the duo became a force to be reckoned with on the basketball court. Ford was awarded first team all-league honors in basketball and her and her teammates earned their way into the state volleyball tournament again this year.

Tayler is the daughter of Brian and April Ford. Her father works at the Naselle Youth Camp and her mother works at Clatsop Distributing in Warrenton, Oregon.

“Out of all the schools I’ve been to, this is my favorite,” said Ford. “I love the school here. The teachers, the people, everyone has been so kind. It’s been a great experience and one I won’t ever forget.”

“Running Start has been a very good experience and, as a result, I expect I will only have to be at Eastern for two or three years before earning my degree.”

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