Coupeville High School: 1943-2007

Whether it’s the rousing games or the classes that prepared them for college, Coupeville High School brings back warm memories for many graduates who attended the old school over the years.

Alumni, teachers, staff and students will have one more chance to reminisce about their past before the school is demolished later this summer. The district is holding an event, “School’s Out! A Night to Remember,” in memory of the old building on May 10.

A brand-new high school is being built next to the current one.

The antiquated high school provided schooling for many current leaders on Whidbey Island.

“I remember what it looked like the very first day I was there,” said Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard, who graduated from Coupeville High School in 1970 and was more recently the long-time business manager for the school district.

Instead of the current carpeting that lines the school’s cramped halls, the school had higher ceilings and hardwood floors.

She also mentioned the changes in the gym that was located in the high school. What is currently a practice gym was once where basketball games took place. The gym had bleachers and a balcony that were packed with fans eager to watch the Wolves earn their first trip to state in Conard’s graduation year.

“The community used to pack the gym,” Conard said remembering a game against league rival La Conner. “The other team hardly had a chance.”

She isn’t the only one who remembers Coupeville’s accomplishments.

Island County Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock, who graduated in 1969, remembers winning the league baseball championship in his senior year with a 19-3 record. He played center field on the championship team.

While he recalls the high school as a serviceable building that was in better shape than it is currently, he remembers the teachers, Bob Barker and Craig Pedlar, that gave him the skills needed to succeed in college.

“(Barker) gave me an excellent foundation for college,” Hancock said.

Hancock has been involved at Coupeville High School over the years. He’s served as History Day judge, and his son, Benjamin, graduated from the school in 1999.

The school changed over the years as the school district’s facilities expanded. Eventually a middle school and an elementary school were built as the school district grew.

Other former graduates enjoyed the tight-knit school.

Gina Slowik, who graduated in 1993, said she really loved the small-school environment, which meant her classmates were really close. She spent her high school years as a cheerleader and softball player.

While the current high school has memories for current and former students, it has worn out over the years and everybody understands the need to replace it.

That’s why voters approved a bond in May 2004 that financed construction of the new school scheduled to open this fall.

Current students know firsthand about the school’s condition and age.

Senior Trevor Tucker said there are a lot of water leaks and ceiling tiles often fall down. He also noted the temperature differences between classrooms. He would go to one where the temperature is too cold and then walk into another one where the temperature is too hot.

“It’s old and it’s falling apart,” said Tucker, who is heading to Washington State University in the fall. He added that he doesn’t really mind attending classes in the current building.

Fellow senior Kyrsten Huddleston noted the stains on the walkway between the classrooms and the school’s gymnasium.

Even though it’s rundown, some students like the old school feel the building offers.

“It just has a homey feeling to it,” said senior Corinne Gaddis.

The current Coupeville High School will be demolished in July. However, parts of the school will be incorporated into the new building.

A round window next to the gym entrance of the art deco-style building will be placed in the new school.

Construction Manager Gary Goltz said he met with the high school’s American Studies class to figure out a way to capture something from the old building and incorporate it into the new one.

The class eventually decided to remove one of the round windows. The old window will be installed in the school’s commons area.

In addition to the window, workers will also set aside 3,400 bricks when the high school is demolished. Those bricks will be used in the walkway of the courtyard that will be installed once demolition is complete, Goltz said. A further 200 bricks will be given to the booster club.

He said it will be a tight schedule to get the building demolished and install a courtyard and new parking lot this summer. Workers have to wait until school is out before they can start removing hazardous materials out of the building and begin demolition.

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