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Dozens celebrate, mourn end of Bayview School

Tiffany Roszel, a Bayview School graduate from 2007, leaves a message about her experiences at the alternative high school on South Whidbey. Her 5-year-old niece Selena flips through some photo albums of the school’s 17-year history.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Tiffany Roszel, a Bayview School graduate from 2007, leaves a message about her experiences at the alternative high school on South Whidbey. Her 5-year-old niece Selena flips through some photo albums of the school’s 17-year history.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

BAYVIEW — Bayview School passed into history Tuesday, June 19 2012. The alternative high school was 17 years old.

With a ring of the old school bell, former and currents teachers, tutors, students and directors gathered around the bell Monday to mourn and celebrate the storied white school house. About 40 people circled about the bell and a shallow symbolic grave where they were encouraged to toss in their memories and favorite things from the South Whidbey School District’s alternative high school.

“Bayview’s not dying, but the program’s changing,” said Bayview history and social studies teacher Eddie Mulcahy.

The ceremony was an extension of one of the school’s purposes. It allowed students, both current and former, to express their feelings in a productive and healthy way, said Charlene Ray, the school’s counselor for the past 12 years.

“We try to teach (students) healthy ways of dealing with those feelings,” said Ray, who will not follow the alternative program to its new location at the South Whidbey Primary Campus.

“I will certainly be supporting it. I’m a firm believer in alternatives for learning.”

This summer, the 117-year-old building will be emptied of school district property and personal affects. Even the bell will move to the new location on Maxwelton Road, where the alternative school will become South Whidbey Academy, a kindergarten to 12th school. Programs will split along traditional school grades: Explorer for kindergarten to fifth grade, Discovery for sixth to eighth grades and Pathways for ninth to 12th grades.

The loss of the Bayview name and the location in Bayview, for which the school was named, grieved some former students. Visitors were asked to leave a message about and for Bayview School in a journal placed among dozens of photo scrapbooks and yearbooks in the building’s basement. Tiffany Roszel, a student who graduated in 2007, brought her 5-year-old niece Selena and 1-year-old daughter Natylie and showed them pictures.

“I’m so sad. I don’t want them to move,” said Roszel, adding that she was unaware of the symbolic grave, but would have put in a tree ring she received on her first day of her junior year because it “symbolized being part of Bayview.”

Added Ryan Desrosiers, a 2011 Bayview graduate, “This building feels very learned and wise. It feels like the wisdom is retained in the walls.

“Everything here screams ‘Alternative.’”

Bayview School has a storied history of educating South Whidbey children. The school was used for more than 40 years until it was shuttered in 1942 in favor of a single kindergarten-eighth grade school in Langley. After years of varied use, Bayview School opened in 1995 as the South End’s only alternative program.

In time, the students and staff became ingrained in the Bayview community. Recently, students partnered with Good Cheer and worked in the garden to provide produce for low-income Whidbey Island families. Goosefoot, which has sponsored a scholarship for Bayview School graduates for more than 10 years, annually gifts graduates a roll of duct tape, a utility knife and superglue. David Pfeiffer, the school’s director, hoped that spirit of community involvement continues at the new school.

“There’s a deep connection with our community and this school, and I hope its students and staff,” he said.

Pfeiffer encouraged the community to attend a similar ceremony in September to commence the new South Whidbey Academy.

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