SNOHOMISH — Four years ago, Glacier Peak High School opened its doors to gleaming hallways and new desks, computers and lockers, becoming the second high school in town.
That first freshman class will graduate in a ceremony next Thursday.
In their time, the 320 students of the class created the identity for the Grizzlies, starting traditions that will likely be handed down year after year.
Having no established traditions actually turned out to be an advantage for them, because there were no upper-class students who told them how to hold school events or dances, said Sarah Newsom, 17.
“We really put a mark on our school, and we did it how we wanted it to be,” Newsom said.
It was hard at the beginning, since most of the inaugural student body grew up believing they would be going to Snohomish High School. Naturally, some of the traditions were inspired by that school.
“We were trying to follow Snohomish High School. Now we have broken out and we are really our own school,” 18-year-old Faiza Ahmad said.
One tradition the students created was “Rally to the Valley,” which was inspired by Snohomish High’s Serpentine parade. Glacier Peak students drove in a caravan from the school to Veterans Memorial Stadium for one football game. Both schools play in the stadium.
“Snohomish had something cool like that. Obviously, we didn’t want to have the Serpentine because that’s theirs. We wanted to have our own tradition for a game,” Newsom said.
School staff pushed the class to create their own identity, said Bob Blair, the school’s athletic coordinator.
“They have done it with flash mob dances and doing different dress-up during games,” he said. “They certainly have developed their own uniqueness.”
A big challenge was to create homecoming from scratch. Most schools have about 50 years’ worth of traditions. In its first year, Glacier Peak students decided to have a mix of boys and girls in its homecoming court. That’s different from Snohomish High, where the homecoming court is only girls, Principal Jim Dean said.
“It was only fair to have everyone involved,” he said.
The class of 2012 was special in that they took what they liked from previous classes, Dean said.
“It’s like they were watching their older siblings and said, ‘I really don’t want to do that,’ or they said, ‘That was really cool, I am going to try that,’” Dean said.
Even though the students tried to be different, there is a similarity this time of year: Graduation is bringing a mixture of happiness and sadness.
“It has been the best experience in my life,” 18-year-old Athen Britsch said.
Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; email@example.com.