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Nine Bayview grads overcome odds on way to diplomas

Teran Norton adjusts her cap before the start of commencement for Bayview graduates Thursday. - Brian Kelly / The Record
Teran Norton adjusts her cap before the start of commencement for Bayview graduates Thursday.
— image credit: Brian Kelly / The Record

Tears flowed and tissues fluttered in the bright sunshine at Bayview Corner on Thursday afternoon as nine students from Bayview School received their high school diplomas.

“You stayed the course and crossed the finish line,” said Bayview teacher Sue Raley of senior Kylie Griffin in a sentiment suitable for all the graduates. “You remind us of why we show up for work every day.”

About 200 family members and friends of the graduates, and past and present Bayview School students, spread across the grassy slope in the field next to Bayview Community Hall for the two-hour ceremony.

Teachers and other staff members of the school, members of the South Whidbey school board and district Superintendent Fred McCarthy paid tribute to the students who overcame a variety of challenges on the way to their diplomas from the district’s “alternative school.”

Some of the graduates have been looking after themselves for years. At least two are young mothers. All found a home at Bayview.

As South Whidbey High School teacher Gene Koffkin said, Bayview students probably think of his building as the “alternative” school.

“It’s a day of celebration and of gratitude,” said Bayview School Director David Pfeiffer, welcoming those in attendance. “If we were ghosts, you’d see a multitude of supporters behind each graduate.”

Receiving diplomas were Chantell Boyle, Christopher Britton, Andrea Feyerherm, Griffin, Camille Love, Mark Moeller, Teran Norton, Briana Pinckert and Tony Wright. Classmate Heather Nielsen is on track to

graduate in September.

Dressed in caps and gowns in a variety of colors, each graduate took center stage along with one or two supporters who spoke about them.

“She set her mind to graduate, and she has,” said Bayview staff member Deann Houck of Feyerherm, a mother of two. “She meets challenges with grace, power and strength.”

“She has what it takes to survive the bumpy roads of life,” said Raley of Norton. “She wins the tiny-but-mighty award hands down.”

“She’s found her voice,” said school counselor Charlene Suzuki of Pinckert. “The possibilities are endless for her.”

The persistence award appeared to go to Wright, who has attended the school since 2005, and came to the ceremony in gold cap and gown and carrying his hall-monitor staff.

“He’s been at Bayview so long, he IS Bayview,” said Suzuki of Wright, who was jokingly known around school as “god (small g),” and who received at his request, along with his diploma, a trophy.

“He doesn’t believe in paper, which hampered his graduation somewhat,” Suzuki added.

“It’s been a really good time in my life, and I’m sorry to see it go,” Wright said. “I never wanted to leave.”

A variety of scholarships were awarded. Norton received a new one this year, offered anonymously by a South Whidbey couple, for two years of tuition at a community college. She plans to study psychology.

Boyle received three awards, from the Arise Charitable Trust, the South Whidbey Kiwanis Club and the $1,000 Bonnie Morgan Scholarship. Norton also received a Kiwanis scholarship.

Britton received the $500 Bayview Family Scholarship, and Wright the third annual $500 scholarship from the nonprofit Goosefoot, proprietors of Bayview Corner.

Goosefoot also presented each graduate with a Swiss Army knife and a roll of duct tape.

“With these two tools, you can overcome any challenge,” said Chris Hurley, Goosefoot’s executive director.

Scott Mauk, former Bayview School director and now assistant principal at South Whidbey Intermediate School, urged the graduates to move ahead in their lives with grace and courtesy, despite the difficult economic climate.

“You have control over you,” he said. “Do good when it gets bad.”

“And get rid of your television,” Mauk added. “It’s a colossal waste of time.”

McCarthy urged the graduates to continue to learn.

“May this be your first graduation of many,” he said.

And McCarthy added, to much laughter: “I’m a spiritual person, but I didn’t realize that all the time I was praying, I was praying to Tony. I want to thank him for my blessings.”

Speeches over, the graduates, including Wright, were handed their degrees and shook hands with representatives of the school district.

“This means Tony really is out the door,” Pfeiffer said with a smile.

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