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Rekindling Sequim school pride
Bob Clark, Sequim High class of 1943, recalls the first time he walked across the stage in what was then Sequim High School and is now the Performing Arts Building.
“It was freshman initiation,” Clark told a packed house on Aug. 13. “All the boys were dressed as girls. We had to roll a peanut across the stage while, I think it was Joe Devine (who) hit me on the butt with a paddle.”
Saturday’s Sequim All-School, All-Class reunion saw no such gauntlet for Sequim school alumni, family and friends; rather, event organizers welcomed back their Wolves classmates with a cookout luncheon, a car show, displays of sports and activities memorabilia, an assembly with a full lineup of speakers, a banquet at 7 Cedars Casino on Saturday and a noon-time picnic the following day at Sequim Prairie Grange.
Organizer Kevin Kennedy said that by midday Saturday the alumni group had sold more than 530 lunch tickets.
“It’s gone exceedingly well,” said Kennedy, Sequim High class of 1975.
The class reunion Saturday was a family reunion of sorts for several Sequim alums, including five Knapp siblings; Eileen Knapp Martin, Janet Emerson and Joann Knapp joined brothers Don and Bud Knapp for the festivities. Their sixth sibling, Robert — a 1965 SHS grad — died in 2009.
For others, it was an uncovering of the past. Charles Bryden of Union City, Calif., spent one year, kindergarten, in Sequim schools, in 1946-1947.
But his connections in Sequim run deep. His father-in-law, Austin Smith, ran a small paint shop in Sequim that developed into a general store. Smith sold the store’s stock to son-in-law Eugene Pearson, who ran it before it burned down on Dec. 30, 1945, Bryden said.
Pearson sold clothes salvaged from the fire off his front porch, recalls Bryden, who was about 5 years old at the time.
“I (still) remember the smell of scorched cloth,” he said Saturday.
Smith’s father Chris Miller helped build the Dungeness Pier and cut lumber for the first irrigation ditches back in the 1890s, Bryden said.
At a funeral in April, Bryden reconnected with his cousin John Pearson, who let him know about Sequim’s all-class, all-schools reunion. Since then, Bryden’s been delving into his family’s past and coming up with genealogical riches. That includes finding grave sites of relatives at the Dungeness Cemetery and first meeting Dorothy Bollinger, his only living relation still on the Olympic Peninsula.
After reunion attendees finished lunch Saturday, many stopped by the auditorium to hear Clark and other speakers recall stories from their Sequim school days. Former Sequim High grad and teacher Dick Shaw, class of 1949, kept the audience in proverbial stitches with his recounting of several inglorious moments.
He recalled a 1948 “Senior Sneak Day,” when he and fellow junior class members decided to join the upperclassmen in skipping school. So they piled into cars and went to the Olympic Hot Springs — which were not open at the time.
“We got kicked off athletic teams and made it up, triple time,” Shaw said.
“I’ve taught more than a thousand students at Sequim High School,” he told the crowd.
“My driveway has not been cluttered with former students coming to thank me — and I’m grateful,” Shaw joked.
One may not be able to “go home again,” as author Thomas Wolfe wrote, but as Sequim’s all-class reunion showed, you may be able to get a hall pass back into school.
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.