Clay Reilly gave so many hugs after the graduation ceremony at Coupeville High School last Friday night that he was all hugged out.
He found it hard to believe that his scholastic journey in Coupeville since preschool was over. Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon is next.
“I’ve met so many great people. So many great mentors helped me grow up to the young man that I am now,” said Reilly, who plans to continue on to Washington State University and enroll in the Naval ROTC program. “I couldn’t thank them enough.”
Reilly is one of 71 members from Coupeville’s Class of 2017.
He said about 14 of his classmates have attended school together since kindergarten. Inside the gym Friday night, they started new paths in their lives.
“It was emotional,” Reilly said. “I had to hold back a lot of tears. Now that it’s over, I’m just going to let it out sometime soon.”
Kiara Burdge and Allyson Roberts sang the national anthem, followed by addresses given by class president JaeLynn LeVine, salutatorian Nick Dion and valedictorian Lainey Dickson and a musical performance by classmates Desirae Bradley, Alexxis Otto and Mitchell Carroll.
“Everyone in this class is so close,” Joseph Wedekind said. “I moved to Coupeville in my middle school years and they just took me in. It’s been fun ever since.”
“Pretty crazy” was how Jacob Martin described Coupeville’s Class of 2017. He came to Coupeville in the ninth grade.
“When I first got here, they just kind of all adopted me,” Martin said. “We’re all one big family. I love everyone in my class.”
Fanny Deprelle only spent one school year in Coupeville. She is an exchange student from Belgium.
“Here, it was just amazing because graduation in Belgium was completely different. It was so emotional,” she said. “I love everyone.”
High school English teacher Sandra Moore graduated, too.
She was the faculty speaker during the ceremony. She is retiring after 36 years as an educator, 30 of them in Coupeville.
She won’t have to worry about Sept. 5 — the first day of the school this fall.
“It’s kind of scary,” Moore said. “It reminds me very much of when I was graduated from high school and it dawned on me … ‘Uh oh. Now what?’ Because nobody’s going to tell me what to do anymore. It sort of feels like that way in retirement, too. There’s freedom that I’ve never had before.”
Away from her responsibilities as an English teacher, there will be more freedom than she could’ve ever imagined.
“What I’ve told people is, ‘I want to see what Coupeville looks like between September and June because I’ve been grading papers for 30 years,’” she said.
“I love teenagers. I think that’s going to be the thing that I miss the most. I like them because they always do something unexpected and say something unexpected and they make me smile.”