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Island County’s death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic has reached six.

The latest fatality was added to the county’s web site Tuesday afternoon, but other than acknowledging it had occurred on Whidbey, no other information was posted.

As of 3 PM Tuesday, Island County has 145 confirmed cases, with 112 on Whidbey and 33 on Camano.

All six deaths have occurred on Whidbey.

Washington state health officials have recorded COVID-19 deaths in 16 of 39 counties, with 8,682 confirmed cases and 394 deaths statewide.

Island County has the ninth-most deaths currently, with eight other counties having registered 10+ deaths.

King (226), Snohomish (59), and Whatcom (19) have been the hardest-hit counties.

 

For updates:

https://www.islandcountywa.gov/Health/Pages/COVID-19.aspx

https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus

Mason Grove rises up to deny a shoeless rival. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

I’m a writer, not a photographer.

So, it’s a good thing I have a whole ton of people willing to snap pics for me.

Looking back, here’s my choice for 20 of my favorite photos from the 2019-2020 school year.

They’re in no particular order, and not every sport is represented, but these are the photos which caught my eye today, a mix of action and reaction.

And, most of all, emotion.

Avery Parker (and her artwork) come out to support big sister Skylar. (Corinn Parker photo)

Maya Toomey-Stout gets medieval on the volleyball. (Brian Vick photo)

Maddie Georges slices to the hoop. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Ben Smith (in hat) and Sean Toomey-Stout share a final moment on the gridiron. (Deb Smith photo)

Avalon Renninger hangs out with her fan club. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Zoe Trujillo (front) and Maddie Vondrak get down with their bad selves. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Lyla Stuurmans brings the heat. “Oh, they’re gonna need that first aid kit when I get done with them!!” (Corinn Parker photo)

Emily Fiedler celebrates winning a cheer camp competition. (BreAnna Boon photo)

I said, “Sit down!” (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Brynn Parker gets congrats from cross country guru Elizabeth Bitting. (Morgan White photo)

Kai Wong claims the turnover belt after recovering a fumble. (Photo property CHS football)

A mid-match black eye won’t stop Scout Smith. (Charlotte Young photo)

Jada Heaton enjoys her time on the hardwood. (Corinn Parker photo)

Mica Shipley, cheer champ. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Middle school hoops stars show some love to high school hotshot Hawthorne Wolfe. (Morgan White photo)

Emma Mathusek is pumped up. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Natalie Hollrigel pies Shipley during a fundraiser. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Ty Hamilton splashes home a bucket. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The bright future of Wolf sports. (Sherine Wenzel photo)

Coupeville High School/Middle School Athletic Director Willie Smith (middle) and CHS Principal Duane Baumann (right) in happier times. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Washington is the 14th state to shut down in-person learning for the duration of the 2019-2020 school year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That decision ends any hope of spring sports being played.

Coupeville Athletic Director Willie Smith issued the following statement:

 

Wow, I don’t even know how to address the news that Governor Inslee just gave: the closing of our school year…

It goes without saying, and I’m actually entirely tired of saying or hearing this, that these are unprecedented times that we are living in right now.

My greatest concern, once school first got cancelled was would we come back, and if so, would we get to have any type of an athletic season.

And yes, I am a teacher and before any of you think why those would be my first thoughts, it’s because athletics is, and always has been part of my education.

It is a massive tool that teaches our students a myriad of lessons and I’m extremely proud to be an advocate of athletics and the role that athletics plays in our educational system.

Our league Athletic Directors, both at the middle and high school levels, began working on alternative seasons in case we came back and the WIAA was going to continue to try and have state championships.

As the second extension came out from Governor Inslee, we quickly moved to playing just within our league and not even considering the state-level competitions as time became our biggest obstacle.

And then today happened.

We had nearly 150 students out for high school spring sports and another 40-50 middle school students that were ready to begin track.

We were, literally, days away from our first contests when COVID-19 necessitated the closure of our schools.

I can’t even begin to express my sadness, disappointment, disbelief, and yes, anger at what has transpired.

Do I disagree with any of the closures? No, I do not.

It was the right thing to do and I think we are fortunate in our state to have a process in place that is forward looking and proactive rather than reactive.

But does it suck? Yes, yes it does, completely and without question.

To the underclassmen: you still have opportunities ahead of you.

Continue to work hard, stay active, get focused on what you can prepare for and not what you didn’t get to have this spring.

To the seniors: there’s nothing I can say that will make you feel good about any of this.

However, I do want to let you know that you have been one of my favorite classes of young men and women in my 25 years in Coupeville.

You are driven, funny, down to earth, high achievers, great friends to each other, and have represented our school in the highest manner.

I have no doubt about the successes you will have because I’ve witnessed the successes you’ve already had; this pandemic may have taken your spring seasons away, but it can’t take away your contributions to our athletic programs and our school culture.

It has truly been my pleasure and my honor to have been a small part of your school lives and I wish nothing but the greatest to all of you.

Mr. Willie Smith
Athletic Director, Coupeville Middle & High School

Prep sports will return in the fall. Hopefully. (David Stern photo)

It’s over before it began.

There will be no prep spring sports season in Washington state in 2020.

No high school softball games. No middle school track meets. No Senior Nights.

As the world battles the coronavirus pandemic, things we took for granted have had to be reevaluated.

Hard decisions have had to be made.

And public health concerns have had to rightfully carry the day.

Governor Jay Inslee and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal held a joint news conference Monday, announcing schools will remain shuttered through the end of the 2019-2020 school year.

The closure, which effects 1.2 million students, covers all public, private, and charter schools. It will go through June 19, and could continue through the summer and into the fall.

Washington is the 14th state to close schools for the entire year.

In-person classes and recreation on school grounds are banned, but school-sponsored child care, nutrition programs, and other social services can continue.

Schools are encouraged to continue providing distance learning.

Prior to Monday’s press conference, the plan had been for schools to remain closed until April 24, with students returning April 27 after a six-week shutdown.

Inslee recently extended his Stay Home, Stay Healthy order out through May 4, however, with the caveat it might have to go further.

That made the April return date unworkable.

Previously, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, the governing body for school sports, had help out hope a shortened spring season might be held if students returned to school by late April or early May.

State championships, which were set to finish Saturday, May 30, were not going to be pushed out to later months, so as not to potentially conflict with graduation ceremonies.

Monday’s announcement, however, erases the last bit of hope for any kind of season being played.

Bennett Boyles (Photos courtesy Lucienne Rivera, Pat Kelley, and Konni Smith)

Never forgotten. Always loved.

Three years ago today Bennett Boyles battle with cancer ended.

He didn’t lose, as he fought with everything he had. But his body reached its breaking point.

Facing off with cancer is something no one should have to endure, much less a 12-year-old with his life stretching out in front of him.

Having lost family members to cancer, I know the mix of sadness, of anger, and of disbelief.

In his fight, in the way he faced an unyielding foe, Bennett touched many lives.

His fellow classmates, who are now sophomores at Coupeville High School, have never forgotten him.

They are carrying Bennett with them through every step of their school journey, from messages on the rock outside the school, to honoring him when they play basketball, a sport he loved.

When Hawthorne Wolfe launches a three-ball and the orb slips through the net without a ripple, Bennett is there with Hawk, his name written on the shoes which carry Wolfe up and down the court.

As we watch Xavier Murdy, and Grady Rickner, and Logan Martin, and Wolfe in action, it’s very easy to imagine Bennett out there, once again running the court with his friends.

That his classmates and coaches and friends and family and teachers and strangers alike embrace his memory, celebrate his life and accomplishments, keep alive everything good, binds our community together.

We will not forget Bennett.

There is anger, and there is sadness, and those are justifiable, and a lot of that will never fade.

But there is love and there is hope, and that is what Bennett means to Coupeville.

Every time a basketball net snaps, he’s here.

Every time we show kindness and grace to someone else, he’s here.

Every time we celebrate his soaring spirit — and it was there, firmly in place, long before his health problems — he’s here.

When the CHS Class of 2022 walks to the podium to receive their diplomas, when players like Hawk and X celebrate their Senior Nights on the basketball court, he will be there with them.

As a community we carry Bennett with us every day, and that will never change.

Never forgotten. Always loved.