Celebrating a centennial of Sequim grads

It’s time for Sequim to celebrate graduation again. A little over 100 years ago, Sequim High sent off its first four graduates Leonard Fernie, Helen Knoph, Goodwin O’Brien and Neva Peterson. Since then the high school has hosted at least 8,500 Sequimites who donned caps and gowns for graduation night.

SHS’s 1923 basketball team

SHS’s 1923 basketball team

It’s time for Sequim to celebrate graduation again.

A little over 100 years ago, Sequim High sent off its first four graduates Leonard Fernie, Helen Knoph, Goodwin O’Brien and Neva Peterson. Since then the high school has hosted at least 8,500 Sequimites who donned caps and gowns for graduation night.

Organizers of the Sequim All-Class Reunion want to celebrate the centennial of the first graduating class by bringing together as many Sequim grads as possible for Aug. 14-16.

Kevin Kennedy, Class of 1975 and reunion chairman, said sign-ups still are happening on Saturday morning from 9 a.m.-noon at Sequim High School.

Hazel Lowe, Class of 1959 and registration coordinator, said they have about 450 people signed up so far with more expected on Saturday.

Planned for the weekend are a two-man scramble at The Cedars at Dungeness beginning at 1 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14. Fees apply. Later that night, a free get-together begins at 7 p.m. in the Sequim VFW. The following morning, lunch is served at 11:30 a.m. at the Sequim High School cafeteria followed by a car show outside and an assembly in the high school auditorium featuring stories and a walk-through Sequim High School’s history. Fees apply.

In the evening, a buffet dinner by 7 Cedars Casino begins at 6 p.m. at the Sequim Boys & Girls Club with a social hour at 5 p.m. however the RSVP is full.

On Sunday morning, the Sequim Museum & Arts Center hosts tours of the Dungeness Schoolhouse from 9-11 a.m. followed by the free alumni picnic at the Sequim Prairie Grange.

Kennedy recommends pre-registering by contacting him at 253-229-1673 or geoduck01@hotmail.com.

Sequim springboard

All-Class Reunions were set for every four years, Kennedy said, but this time they were set five years ahead to coincide with the centennial of the first class graduating.

Terri Lillquist, Class of 1962 and a member of the reunion committee, said many Sequim graduating classes host mini-reunions this weekend to coincide with the All-Class Reunion.

“About everybody who has a ‘5-year’ reunion like 1960, 1965, etc. is getting together,” she said.

Kennedy said his class celebrates its 40th anniversary and that the All-Class Reunion makes “it’s a lot easier” to get everyone together.

Lillquist said her graduating class had 65 people and that she’s hosting their reunion in her home for about 20 people.

“I loved school,” she said. “I was social. My grades weren’t great but I loved the people.”

The All-Class Reunion is an opportunity, she says, to “see a lot of people you rode the bus with and you went to church with. You get to see everyone’s brothers and sisters.”

Bob Clark, Class of 1947 and president of the Sequim Alumni Association, said only 16 members of his graduating class of 51 are still alive and as of last week he and another woman are the only ones to attend the reunion.

“(The reunion) is a chance you’ll never have again in your life,” Clark said. “Someday you’ll realize you should have come.”

Many people are coming from great distances like California and Arizona.

“You get to see people you’ve known forever,” Clark said. “And you see people you haven’t seen for several years. Last All-School Reunion I saw a schoolmate, not in my class, but I hadn’t seen him for 20-25 years.”


Sequim stories

Organizers say the reunion is centered around opportunities to swap stories and eat good food.

While Clark was in school, he said the town was so small you didn’t dare do anything bad because “it’d beat you home.”

But his time in high school was actually pushed ahead.

“I was really too young in high school,” he said. “I was 16 when I graduated and I started when I was 5 when I should have started when I was 6.”

Clark said his mother was on the Dungeness Schoolhouse School Board and said he was ready for school. In the sixth grade, he took it simultaneously with seventh grade because he was the only sixth-grader. Clark said he spent his mornings learning sixth grade and his afternoons seventh grade.

“In high school I wasn’t big enough to get involved in sports,” Clark said. “In the three months between my junior and senior year I grew 11 inches. My classmates didn’t even recognize me. Suddenly, I was up to their height.”

Kennedy said one of his fondest memories was an old tradition.

“There used to be a tradition that on Sunday night you’d go sleep on the school’s roof,” Kennedy said. “You graduated on Monday night in those days. I remember waking up with the school bell ringing and I was the only one still there. There were all these people down there going to classes.

“I climbed down and there was the school principal shaking his head. ‘Late again,’ he said.”


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