The class of 2016 from Valley Catholic will graduate June 11. (Todd Sargood/Valley Catholic)
The class of 2016 from Valley Catholic will graduate June 11. (Todd Sargood/Valley Catholic)
BEAVERTON – This commencement season marks a milestone for the 94 seniors in Valley Catholic High School’s class of 2016.

The school bids farewell to seniors at ceremonies set for 2 p.m. Saturday, June 11, in the Valiants gym. Valedictorian is Christopher Douglass and salutatorians are Jessi Beyer and Alex Zdanowicz.

It’s also a big year and for two school leaders. Ross Thomas, principal, and Claudia Thomas, admissions director, are retiring after a combined 27 years of service. They have been married for 45 years.

“The contributions by Ross and Claudia to our school have been extraordinary,” said Bob Weber, president of the Beaverton complex of schools. “Valley Catholic has excelled in academics, athletics, arts and activities under their leadership.”

A banner hanging in the Valley Catholic gym celebrates the philosophy embodied by the Thomases: “Excellence in everything. Opportunity for everyone.”

When Ross joined Valley Catholic in 2002, the student body totaled 300. Today, enrollment has increased to nearly 400.

“When we were hovering around 300, we didn’t quite have enough students to fill out all of the programs and make them the best they could be,” said Claudia, who focused on increasing enrollment and attracting students who were driven and engaged.

Valley Catholic’s growth in student enrollment and participation led to a transition in classification from 3A to 4A athletics, and four Oregonian Cups for overall excellence.
“Whether it’s arts, athletics, leadership or service, we wanted the entire student body to get involved,” said Claudia.

“I didn’t want any of our students going home at 3 o’clock, spending their afternoon watching television,” said Ross. “I wanted everybody to be a part of something. I wanted our students going home at 6:00 or 6:30, excited about all they got to do.”

Paul Hogan, principal at Jesuit High School, once worked for Ross Thomas as an English and history teacher at St. George School in Spokane.

“Ross is revered among principals for his keen insight, his determination to hold fast to the verities of Catholic education, and above all, his willingness to go to the mat for his students and teachers,” said Hogan.

The Thomases credit much of their success to Valley Catholic’s founders, the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon.

As Ross noted, the Sisters embrace important values, including “honoring the unique gifts of each person,” which he tries to embody in his daily interactions with students, faculty and staff.

“Every single person is infinitely worthy and loved by God,” said Ross. “That’s my guiding principle. We are all God’s children.”

Here are the graduates: Hanna Alomair, Chayaporn Minnie Atichartakarn, Trevor S Baek, John Blake Barkhurst, Peter Joseph Bernard, John Christopher Bernards, Jessi Erin Beyer, Matthew John Biggi, Reilly L Blood, Ethan Lowell Cape, Kexin Stephanie Chen, Zhongxu Zac Chen, Joshua Man-Chi Cheng, Bailey Tucker Chisholm, Aaron Y Choi, Jessica Chung, Lacee Makayla Cleveland-Aguirre, Sophia E Cowles, Jennah Marie Curfman, Molly C Danielson, Benjamin Michael Davidson, John William Deatherage,

Jacob Alexander Dicken, Christopher D Douglass, Michael Jr Droessler, John Edward Eisenbacher, Annika Tereza Filip, Kyle M Garcia, Margaret Claire Gard, David Anthony Gehlen, Emily R Gfroerer, Aidan Joseph Gillespie, Tejvi Kaur Grewal, Kyle V Guthrie, Lee Michael Henningsen, Matthew Neil Henningsen, Suk Hyun Phillip Hwang, Alex Michael Hyland,

Emily Patrice Hyland, Allison Monique Ierardi, Annika Sabrina Irrgang, Emilio S Jacinto, Olivia Adele Jackson, Anna Maria V Jardini, Maricela Carolanne Jaroch, Blaise Montiel Johnson-Stevens, Avery Quinn Jones, Rachel A Jones, Rachel M Justice, Patrick Brendan Kelly, Austin T Ketterer, Serena Khader, Joseph W Kiefer, Alexander William Kiss, Ellen C Koukel, Shankar G Krishnakumar, Olivia C Langton, Kathleen Elizabeth Larson,

Dorothy Anh Le, Ermina J Lee, Aaron Mark Linnemann, Rachael M Lovely, Brynn Grace Matson, Madeline B McDougal, Mackenzie Anne Mullett, Max E Nepokroeff, Nam Cat Phuong Nguyen, Thi Thien Hanh Nguyen, Sara Elizabeth O'Donnell, Owen MontgomeryParker,

Vijay Parthasarathy, Jordan D Paulsen, Oliver Clement Philips, Andrew Cole Plasker, Jakob A Pruitt, Zachary John Quinonez, Bianca R Robison, Victor Miguel Rodriguez Valdovinos, Rose Marie Lucille Rogers,

Peter H Seger, David Bruce Spurgeon, Atticus Aidan Sullivan, Foya S Tavangary, Regan M Torres, Tina Hong Tran, Sagar Trika, Alessandro Tubito, Marina Tyagulskaya, Andres Ernesto Vega, Sarah Morgan Warlick, Tiana Sophia Le Week, Kevin Vincent White, Meredith Ann Woolverton, Alexander A Zdanowicz