It was like a family reunion for Nedra Floyd Paulter.
The 1966 graduate of Langley High School was one of nearly 200 former students and staff who attended a farewell event for Langley Middle School on Friday. The school is closing at the end of the school year as part of the South Whidbey School District’s efforts to consolidate its facility usage, and students are being relocated to the high school and old primary school. Organizers of the event wanted to give people in the community a chance to gather and rekindle memories and relationships before the school indefinitely closes its doors to students.
For Floyd Paulter, a Seattle resident, it meant a lot.
“This is my school; I walked through all these halls,” she said. “…It’s good to catch up.”
Recognizing some of her former classmates was difficult, but, it was fun to see them and share stories, she added. Floyd Paulter had the chance to reconnect with Sharon Cattron Edwards, who graduated with her in 1966. They both found their individual pictures on their graduating class photos.
The event was coordinated by Langley Middle School Principal Jim McNally, middle school principal student intern Susie Richards and office manager Mary Eaton.
John Knaplund, a 1956 graduate of Langley High School, said it had been a “long time” since he’d seen some of his fellow students and staff who were in attendance and that he enjoyed reconnecting with them. He attended the event because the school means a “tremendous amount” to him.
“It’s kind of sad to see it shut down, but I understand why,” Knaplund said.
The school’s main hallway and classrooms buzzed with activity during an open house spanning the first hour of the event. Many took the opportunity to converse with former classmates and relive old memories, while others bounced from classroom to classroom to look at class photos displayed on tables. Some class photos dated bate to the 1930s.
The oldest Langley High School graduate in attendance was Don Goodfellow, class of 1947. He was recognized by McNally in the farewell program held in the school’s old main auditorium, which now houses the Whidbey Children’s Theater, following the open house.
The farewell program included talks by McNally, South Whidbey School District Superintendent Jo Moccia, former Langley Middle School Principal Greg Willis and former Principal Dana Gilroy. Other former principals were also recognized, including Sue Haworth, Jack Knisely and Rod Merrell.
Former middle school teacher Jean Shaw, who is now the community liaison for the South Whidbey Schools Foundation, presented $200 checks to middle school teachers. The money will help the teachers set up their new seventh and eighth grade classrooms at the high school or the sixth grade classrooms at the South Campus, formerly known as the primary school.
A video created by Laura Canby of the South Whidbey Schools Foundation and the South Whidbey Historical Society traced the evolution of six schools in Langley from the 1890s to 1942, including Langley Grade School and Langley High School. In the video, Goodfellow recalled attending sixth and seventh grade classes in the wooden Pole Building at the Island County Fairgrounds while the brick grade school was being built. It was eventually finished in 1942.
It was also announced that a time capsule is in the works. The school’s current eighth grade students are collecting artifacts to put in the time capsule which will be opened 10 years after they graduate from South Whidbey High School.
Moccia said the core purpose of the event was to celebrate the school’s history and preserve it. She also said that the district values the Langley campus and plans to continue using it as a “vibrant” community center.
“I think people really appreciated being able to come into the building and connect with old friends,” Moccia said in a phone interview Monday morning. “I think the evening overall was positive for sure.”
Laura Canby of the South Whidbey Schools Foundation contributed to this story.