2024 Students of Distinction

Cassius Via champions change through art and leadership

Posted on May 9th, 2024 By: Joshua Eskew

Student: Cassius Via 

School: Gig Harbor High School 

Category: Community Service Achievement   

If you go on YouTube and look up Cassius Via, you’ll find a nice selection of short films produced by this Gig Harbor High School senior.

As dedicated a student as he is an artist, Cassius also serves as president of his school’s Associated Student Body. In that capacity, he tries to do more than just plan events and fundraisers.

“It’s important for people to feel like they can make a difference,” he says. Consequently, he uses his position to act as a force for change in his community and world and to inspire his peers to do the same.  

Cassius Via

A beacon of compassion 

Cassius thinks of himself as the kind of person anyone can approach. In his hallway conversations with peers, he has learned the contribution that simply asking someone how they are doing can make to their day. Always open to meeting new people, Cassius loves how getting to know his peers opens his mind to new perspectives. He always has a smile to share, and he strives every day to help others smile too.

But he also knows that no one succeeds alone, and so he values the support that others provide to him as well. He also recognizes the limits of his own experience, and so he hopes to use his college years to experience diversity on a more personal level. 

It’s a Wonderful Life 

At the end of the day, Cassius wants everyone to recognize the impact they can make. He compares his understanding to the premise of the classic film It’s a Wonderful Life.

“If you try to imagine what the world would be like without you in it, you really begin to understand how much of a difference you can make,” Cassius says. Once he finishes his degree, Cassius wants to use what he’s learned studying communications and leadership to help others learn this lesson too. 

Cassius Via 

Category: Community Service Achievement  

Parents: Buffy and Kenny Via

Achievements/Activities: Tidefest organization; Tacoma Rescue Mission volunteer; Retirement Community volunteer; Night to Shine Buddy; Serve the People volunteer; Suicide Prevention Coalition; Polio car wash; Interact Club; ASB President and Class Senator; AP/College/Honors courses; 3 Cross Country Varsity letters; Cross Country state qualifier; Activites Coordinator Interact Club; Rotary Youth Leadership Awards camp; works to foster belonging at lunchtime; short film production.

Favorite Teacher: When asked the question of his favorite teacher, Cassius doesn’t know where to start, with so many that come to mind. However, he states, “My coach Patty Ley has been my mentor from the start. She truly sees the best in me. She motivates me to reach my full potential and be an agent for change every day,” as he tears up.

Best thing about high school: “Gig Harbor is far from perfect. As a community we have come so far … yet there is still so much work to be done. One area where we are certainly not lacking is passion. I see it everywhere. Passion in a March Madness three-pointer. Passion in a piano solo that took weeks of practice. Passion in standing up for what is right in front of the school board. Indifference is hard to find here at Gig Harbor. And that’s what I love.”