Archive for the ‘Everything changes’ Category

Coupeville rival La Conner will remain the Braves after approval from the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They will edit, but not erase.

The La Conner School District has received permission from the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community to retain use of its Braves mascot.

However, there will be some changes to the actual look of that mascot, which depicts a Plains Indian wearing a feather headdress.

La Conner High School will remove a logo of the mascot from the floor of its gym, and some posters and team uniforms will be replaced.

The move follows the passing of a state law — House Bill 1356 — banning the use of Native American names, symbols, or images in public schools.

School districts which include what is termed “Indian Country” can be exempt, if local tribes issue a resolution in support of retaining mascots already in place.

The Swinomish tribe and the La Conner school district have a long history together, dating to the early 1900’s, when tribal children began attending La Conner schools.

Current numbers from the state’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction list 34% of La Conner’s students as Native American.

Two of five school board members are Swinomish tribal members, while new Superintendent Will Nelson is also Native American.

While using the Braves name and logo for its sports teams, La Conner also incorporates the moniker in other ways, with the district motto being “Be brave.”

District schools have worked to keep Swinomish tribal heritage as a vital part of their curriculum, with drumming, carving, and Lushootseed language classes offered to both tribal and non-tribal students.

House Bill 1356 provides funding for school districts to make changes such as removing the current logo from the gym floor.

Going forward, the district and the tribe will work together to craft a new image which is “more appropriate to the Coast Salish people.”

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After camping in Coupeville for a decade-plus, the Whidbey News-Times moved back to its old home up in Oak Harbor in mid-2020, but no longer has the use of the entire building. (Photo property Garage of Blessings)

The living history of Whidbey Island no longer … lives on Whidbey.

It’s not a commonly-known fact, but the archives for the Whidbey News-Times, South Whidbey Record, and Coupeville/Whidbey Examiner all reside in Port Angeles these days, unable to be accessed by readers or journalists.

For the most part.

It’s a tale with no villains, however.

Just a story of how newspapers, especially those operating with long histories and limited storage space, have had to adapt.

So, yes, as I try and pull together the last 100+ years of Coupeville athletics into a semi-coherent story, the lack of local newspaper archives (public or private), does make that self-appointed job a bit tougher.

But there are reasons, valid ones, for why we are where we are today.

For those that don’t know, these archives I speak of are primarily comprised of bound volumes of the newspapers, with the earliest dating back 125+ years.

Depending on the thickness of the papers at the time, the volumes vary between six months and a year.

Which meant during my own days at the Whidbey News-Times (1990-1994), or my current vagabond years, I could usually pluck out say, “January-June, 1963,” blow off the dust, and leaf through history.

For the general public, that ended around 2013, when the inherent brittleness of old newspapers became a concern and the archives were restricted to employee access only.

“I was finding pieces of the oldest editions on the floor and volumes left in unacceptable condition after they were viewed by the public, despite posted notices of how to treat the books,” said WNT Publisher Keven Graves.

“We have had one user of the archive who wore gloves and, as she handled the volumes, would make museum-quality repairs to them as she went. That was greatly appreciated.”

Even after the archives were closed, I was granted the occasional dispensation, allowed to investigate stuff if I was super-careful and refrained from eating soup while leafing.

When the pandemic hit, that went away however, with access to the WNT building restricted to current employees.

As long as they weren’t eating soup while leafing…

While many newspapers transferred their product to microfiche back in the day, that was only done sporadically on Whidbey.

As the years went by, doing a whole-sale update became much too expensive.

“Because of the extent of the archives, the cost of putting everything on microfiche was prohibitive,” Graves said. “There were years when we did have the current volumes put on microfiche, but I haven’t located those, and we no longer have a microfiche reader.

“I’m not aware of when the microfiche copies were discontinued, but I suspect it was during the last office relocation to Coupeville (10+ years ago).”

Sno-Isle libraries currently have some WNT editions on microfiche, but it’s an extremely-limited amount.

During the height of the pandemic, the News-Times relocated its offices back to Oak Harbor, returning to the building at 800 SE Barrington Drive where I worked in the ’90s.

Back then, the newspaper occupied the entire two-story building, with printing presses active on-site.

Today, the bottom floor is occupied by the Garage of Blessings thrift store, limiting the newspaper to the smaller top floor.

Finding room for the news staff, plus advertising salespeople, was tricky enough, without trying to schlep heavy bound volumes along for the trip.

“We had absolutely no room for the archives anymore,” Graves said. “We downsized substantially last year in the midst of the pandemic.

“While we wanted all or some of the archives on site for our own research purposes, it just wasn’t feasible,” he added. “Also, the weight of the archives in one place on a second floor unit was a bit of a concern.”

Compounding the problem is that the archives aren’t just the bound volumes.

Writers and photographers, including Whidbey legends such as Wallie Funk, Dorothy Neil, and Jim Waller, have been collecting all sorts of historical stuff for decades.

“Relocating the archives offsite was never the desired result of downsizing our office, but given the circumstances, it was really our only one,” Graves said. “In addition to the newspaper back volumes themselves, there are photo archives comprised of dated and notated negatives/proof sheets.

“There were also some administrative archives that required storage,” he added.

“Lastly, that amount of storage in a space this much smaller could ultimately present a fire and safety hazard because of inadequate space for storage. It would have looked like a hoarder’s dream.”

When it became clear the archives would have to be sent elsewhere, they were “laid flat, wrapped, and protected,” and are now “stored in appropriate conditions until their return someday to the Island.”

In my mind, I’d like to imagine the Port Angeles facility looking like the sprawling warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The newspaper archives are wheeled in, then locked away with the Ark of the Covenant, assorted UFO doo-dads, and a photo or two of Graves himself back from when he was rockin’ the ‘stache in the ’80s.

“I feel the need, the need for ‘stache!!” (Geoff Newton photo)

Mr. Responsible shoots that idea down, however.

“Unlikely,” Graves said with a chuckle. “I haven’t seen it, but I was assured they will be well-protected and preserved until we can bring them on site again someday.”

With the archives off-Island, one seemingly-valid question is how that affects the current News-Times and Record staff, which is largely comprised of young reporters who did not grow up here, and don’t necessarily have an extensive knowledge of Whidbey’s past.

This can be worked around, however, Graves said.

“Most background that we need is within the past 10 years, which is available on our websites,” he said.

“Beyond that, if needed, a reporter could make the arrangements to make the trip to the peninsula to do research. That hasn’t been necessary during this past year.”

Graves, who worked at the News-Times as a young reporter and assistant editor, before going on to run newspapers in other areas before his return to Whidbey, can also be tapped as an asset.

As can WNT editor Jesse Stensland, who has put in two-decades-plus at the paper.

“Between Jessie and I, we have fairly comprehensive knowledge/background dating back to 1986,” Graves said. “This serves as a reasonable starting point for reporters if they need to gather background.”

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Coupeville High School cheer coach BreAnna Boon, here with Mica Shipley (left) and Ashleigh Battaglia, is moving on to conquer new worlds. (Photo courtesy Boon)

Elizabeth Bitting (left), here with Catherine Lhamon, is stepping back as CHS cross country coach to focus on her middle school runners. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

There are four coaching jobs newly available at Coupeville schools.

The district has posted openings for three high school positions — girls basketball, cheer, and cross country — as well as a middle school girls hoops gig.

Scott Fox previously stepped down as CHS girls basketball coach as he prepares for back surgery and an extended recovery time.

To read about that decision, pop over to:

Fox leaves the hardwood | Coupeville Sports

In the world of cross country, Elizabeth Bitting was doing double duty for a year, coaching high school and middle school harriers, but now returns to CMS as previously planned.

“My heart is with the middle schoolers,” she said. “(Athletic Director) Willie (Smith) knew this was going to be our one-hit wonder.”

Her year with the CHS program sparked huge dividends, as the Wolves held their first home meets in decades, and senior Catherine Lhamon went undefeated across four races in a pandemic-altered season.

Better still, the continued growth of numbers for a CHS/CMS harrier program revived three years ago has been astounding.

“The (high school) team’s potential is phenomenal,” Bitting said. “Whoever takes over better be up for continuing to push them and get the best out of them.”

The Wolf running guru is working with several dads to set up a weekly Kettles Trail run for the team, and will continue to help out at every level.

“I’m still pushing them to improve themselves,” Bitting said. “I may not be coaching them but I’m not far!

“I also have 15 soon to be 6th graders interested in cross country when we return! Gotta get them young!!!”

The pandemic shut the CHS cheer program down for a year, and when it returns this fall, coach BreAnna Boon finds herself in a different place in life than before.

“Unfortunately I now work in Mount Vernon and I don’t get home until 6:30,” she said. “Plus now I have two little ones in sports that makes it impossible to keep up with as well.”

During her two years on the Coupeville sidelines, Boon led the Wolves to a 3rd place finish at state, and a trip to nationals.

“Coaching at CHS has honestly been one of the best experiences of my coaching career,” she said. “The community support, the school district, and the athletes I was blessed to work with have changed my life forever.

“I know the kids cannot wait to move away and get into the big world, but if there is anything I want them to take away from growing up in Coupeville, it is be proud of your hometown,” Boon added. “It’s a big part of who you are.

“The love and support the Coupeville community has is something that is so rare.”

While leaving the Wolf cheer program is bittersweet, the chance to be actively involved with her own children’s growth is priority one.

“As sad as I am to be leaving CHS, I am excited to now watch both of my own children succeed in sports,” Boon said. “My son plays football, basketball, and baseball, and my daughter is in softball, and gymnastics.

“Life is crazy busy with two kids in sports, but we will always find time to sit in the stands under the Friday night lights cheering on the CHS football boys!,” she added.

“Whoever gets to be the next coach for this cheer program, is going to be amazingly blessed to have the backing of the Coupeville community. I know I was.”


To see the job openings, and possibly apply, pop over to:

Coupeville School District – Frontline Recruitment (applitrack.com)

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Coupeville’s Dominic Coffman sacks La Conner’s QB in a game this year. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

In the very near future, Coupeville may not play sports contests anymore against the La Conner Braves.

Neither school plans to leave the Northwest 2B/1B League, however.

But, the passage of House Bill 1356, signed into law by Washington state Governor Jay Inslee, “prohibits the inappropriate use of Native American names, symbols, or images as public school mascots, logos, or team names.”

The law goes into affect January 1, 2022.

Currently, 35 of 420 high schools which are members of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, including La Conner, have Native American mascots, logos, or team names.

These range from Braves and Warriors to Red Raiders, Redskins, and Red Devils.

Port Townsend High School previously changed its mascot from Redskins to RedHawks when it and Coupeville were together in the 1A Olympic League.

House Bill 1356 offers an exception to school districts like La Conner, if their enrollment boundaries include what is termed “Indian country.”

To retain mascots and branding, a district must get approval from its local tribe.

For La Conner, that’s the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, and the two sides have agreed to discuss the matter and come to a mutually-beneficial understanding.

The school district and the tribe have a long history together, dating back to the early 1900’s, when Swinomish children began attending La Conner schools.

Current numbers from the state’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction list 34% of La Conner’s students as Native American.

Two of five school board members are Swinomish tribal members, a record number, while incoming Superintendent Will Nelson, who starts July 1, is also Native American.

While using the Braves name and logo for its sports teams, La Conner also incorporates the moniker in other ways, with the district motto being “Be brave.”

The district’s schools have worked to keep Swinomish tribal heritage as a vital part of its curriculum, with drumming, carving, and Lushootseed language classes offered to both tribal and non-tribal students.

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Coupeville High School softball coach Justine McGranahan and grandson watch action unfold during a pre-season intra-team scrimmage. (Photo courtesy McGranahan)

They’re back.

Less than a week after saying it wouldn’t participate in sports until students were back in class, Orcas Island High School has returned to the playing field.

Coupeville athletic Director Willie Smith confirmed Tuesday that the Vikings had “approval to begin athletics.”

That means Wolf softball and baseball regain four games on their combined schedules.

The CHS diamond queens get back a home game March 13 and a road doubleheader March 23, while the diamond men pick up a single road game March 23.

Coupeville softball now sits with a 14-game schedule, the maximum it can have under Washington Interscholastic Activities Association rules during this shortened pandemic season, while Wolf baseball has 11 contests.

Both teams open play this Saturday, March 6 with home games against Friday Harbor.

Baseball plays at 11 AM, with softball hosting a doubleheader with games at 11 and 1 PM.

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