”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.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentnews.us.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://kentnews.us/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Life

t
Ladies Night Out 10th anniversary June 13 at Kent Station

Pampering, wine tastings, light bites part of event

t
Teddy Bear Clinic a hit in Kent with children, parents

Children receive free teddy bears, check out fire engines, aid cars and fire hoses

t
Memorial Day ceremony set for Tahoma National Cemetery near Kent

Monday, May 27 event begins at 1 p.m. to honor veterans

t
Kids learn how to catch fish in Kent at the Old Fishing Hole

Annual event by city of Kent Parks, Rotary Club of Kent provides new experience

A new playground is part of the recently-completed renovations at Morrill Meadows Park on the East Hill in Kent next to the Kent YMCA. COURTESY PHOTO, City of Kent Parks
Morrill Meadows Park in Kent reopens after $1.59 million renovation

Upgrades include expanded playground, new swings, improved lawn space and a permanent stage

Check out Paw-Fest from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 1 at Kent Station. COURTESY PHOTO, City of Kent
Paw-Fest to feature pets for adoption, activities at Kent Station

Event will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 1

t
Mexican group Los Temerarios to perform in Kent Nov. 14-15

Two shows at the accesso ShoWare Center as part of farewell tour

t
Mark your calendar for the annual Auburn Petpalooza

Event is May 18 at Game Farm Park.

t
Sikh community celebrates grand opening in Kent of Gurudwara temple | Photos

Local leaders participate in event that drew more than 7,000 people over three days

Voiceover actor Kat Cressida will visit Auburn at Unlock the Con on Feb. 17-18 for meet and greets, an exclusive dinner with a Q&A panel and a Sunday “Brunch with the Bride.” (Courtesy photo)
Disney voice actor Kat Cressida to host meet and greet in Auburn

Tickets are available for this two-day fandom event at the Outlet Collection’s Unlock the Con on Feb. 17 and 18.