Tualatin High School valedictorian combines sports with academics

Valedictorian Aurora Davis leads the cap toss at the Tualatin High School Senior Celebration. (Josh Kulla/Tualatin Life)
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Aurora Davis recounts just how weird her senior year actually was

Growing up, Aurora Davis naturally gravitated toward leadership roles in school. 

Now, as she graduates from Tualatin High School as the Associated Student Body (ASB) President and one of 19 valedictorians, that drive is as strong as ever. Even if she just finished perhaps the most bizarre senior year in modern memory. 

Aurora Davis is one of 19 valedictorians in the 2021 graduating class at Tualatin High School and also served as the Associated Student Body President. (Josh Kulla/Tualatin Life)

“It’s so weird because if I think back to the start of the year, I think back to how there were fires going on when we started and that feels like so long ago,” Davis said. “But at the same time, I feel like it went faster. The time just felt so long, yet so short at the same time.”

Despite that, this year will hold many permanent memories for Davis and her classmates, even if the vast majority of it was spent interacting through a computer screen. 

“It was just so different than what I would have expected, because senior year, I think, you kind of look forward to being the leaders in the school and being with a bunch of people,” Davis said. “You’ve been with these people for so long, this is your last year, you’re all together, and obviously we weren’t together. So, I think that was the biggest thing that was different. It was kind of disappointing.” 

Toward the end of the school year, however, sports and school clubs were allowed to start up again, and there was even a prom event organized by parents and held outdoors at Langdon Farms Golf Club in Aurora, Ore. Davis said that support from senior parents was vital in helping she and classmates get through the year and stay positive. 

“The parents came together to do some fundraising and they really boosted our traditional events toward the end of the year like Senior Sunset,” she said. “They did a lot of fundraising and got gift cards for everyone and just made it a bigger deal, which was really cool. So, it’s been really nice having the parents’ support.” 

Still, for a student who was involved in Student Council, National Honor Society, the Pack Leaders club and, of course, varsity basketball, it was certainly a challenging experience. 

“For me, not having basketball in the same way where I was just training alone, it made me realize how much I love the experience of being with my team, and it made me want to pursue playing basketball in college more,” she said. “It also gave me a little bit more time to talk with coaches and stuff, which was actually a plus.” 

Aurora Davis receives flowers along with other seniors during the final Tualatin home game of this shortened 2021 season. (Henry Kaus/Tualatin Life)

Davis and her teammates finally got a semblance of a senior season in May and June, which, as she notes, was encouraging. She was also able to finally start meeting with her fellow student council members, even while she declined to take part in in-person classes.  

“I spend a lot of time on the basketball court, for sure, and also ASB Student Council,” she said. “I think (the ASB position) just kind of progressed for me because in eighth grade I was in Leadership (class) and I really enjoyed it. I had heard good things about the high school program and the president at the time came in and talked to us about what it was, and about the program at the school, and I was really interested. So, I ran and I loved it and I learned a lot, and I loved the people involved, so I just continued to run.” 

Davis noted that one of the more amusing ways her class continued to stay close came in the form of the Weekly Wolf, a regular video presentation produced by senior Sawyer Whitt and several others. It involved a weekly half-hour video of recent activities, sports, awards and more, all intended to give the senior class a sense of unity. 

“That was really cool and they worked really hard on that,” Davis said. “They would get different groups from the school, like arts, sports, to recognize, which was really fun to see. It brought us together, because when you’re not in school you don’t know what all these people are doing and it’s just fun to see.” 

Aurora Davis enjoys a laugh with classmates during Tualatin High School’s 2021 Senior Celebration event, held June 9 in the school’s football stadium. (Josh Kulla/Tualatin Life)

One positive aspect of all that time at home, however, was that Davis was also able to dive into some interesting reads. 

“I like watching sports, and I like spending time with my family, and this year I had more time to read, which was good because I hadn’t been reading in a while,” she said. “I read some good books. I read Trevor Noah, Born a Crime, and I liked that a lot, and I read Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming. Mostly they were for school, but that was fun.” 

Still, that’s no substitute for the energy and excitement of being around friends and classmates on a daily basis. 

“I think you don’t realize how much even those tiny things, saying ‘hi’ to people in the hall, how much that adds to your day and it makes you excited to come to school and go to class,” she said. “Because otherwise, it’s just filling out assignments and it’s really so different. I think that was the biggest thing.

“And when you don’t see people it’s really easy to forget that they’re going through the same thing and feeling that connection with people.”