”American Idol” 2023 winner Iam Tongi, of Federal Way, a 2023 Decatur High School graduate, performs at Decatur’s graduation June 12 at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent. COURTESY PHOTO, Federal Way Public Schools

”American Idol” 2023 winner Iam Tongi, of Federal Way, a 2023 Decatur High School graduate, performs at Decatur’s graduation June 12 at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent. COURTESY PHOTO, Federal Way Public Schools

‘American Idol’ winner Iam Tongi sings in Kent at Decatur High graduation

Tongi, of Federal Way, a member of the Decatur Class of 2023, wrapped up the ceremony

“American Idol” winner Iam Tongi, of Federal Way, performed at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent last week as part of the Decatur High School graduation.

Tongi, a member of the Decatur Class of 2023, wrapped up the June 12 ceremony with a performance of “Don’t Let Go” by Spawnbreezie.

“I want to dedicate this song to all my classmates,” said Tongi, originally from Hawaii. “When I won ‘American Idol,’ I sang this as my last song, and I want to sing this for your guys, because we’re all winners today.”

Decatur Principal Jamie Tough encouraged the graduating seniors to wake up with a sense of purpose, and build a plan for their lives — because “everyone has doubts.”

“When you don’t have a plan for your future, you just wake up the next morning and you keep doing what you did before, and time just passes,” Tough said. “For those of you not sure what you want to do … give yourself a deadline. Put a mark on the calendar. … One year from today, have a long-term plan and start working on it. … The one thing you can never get back in your life is time.”

Amaya Bakam, student speaker and Associated Student Body vice president, acknowledged the “historically riveting” years her peers spent together and surviving the COVID-19 pandemic. But their class shared many other wonderful, Bakam said, like their first times driving to school on their own, or going to a pep assembly or a school dance.

Quoting Winnie the Pooh, she said: “Life is a journey meant to be experienced, not a problem to be solved.”

Class speaker Grizelda Eletise Rojas spoke to the respect her peers had learned along the way, and their experience of seeing and being in friend groups and classes that were never made up of just one color.

“We all have been blessed to experience such beautiful diversity in our school,” she said. “This is a community that you cannot replicate. Because this diversity completely shaped us for the rest of the world. This is a community that we have learned so much from, so we can build more wherever we go.”

Federal Way Public Schools had four high school graduations at the ShoWare Center, Decatur and Federal Way on June 12 and Todd Beamer and Thomas Jefferson on June 13.


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