In Mill Creek on Monday, Reed Havens talk about his experience being trapped by an avalanche, along with others, for six days in 2017. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

In Mill Creek on Monday, Reed Havens talk about his experience being trapped by an avalanche, along with others, for six days in 2017. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Trapped by an avalanche: Jackson grad recounts the feeling

Classmates asked Reed Havens to give a commencement speech, where he spoke about the experience.

MILL CREEK — Reed Havens, a recent graduate from Jackson High School, was one of the students trapped with his AP Environmental Science class after an avalanche in the North Cascades in March 2017.

He was voted by his classmates to deliver a commencement speech at graduation, where he spoke about the experience.

Question: How did you feel when you realized you were trapped?

Answer: I think at first I was angry. I was frustrated. The reason I went (on the field trip) is because my friends talked me into going. Environmental Science has never been my thing. I thought we would just miss three days of school, come back on Friday. Then I found out the soonest we’d be able to get out of there was Monday, that I had lost the whole weekend. Then it set in: We are trapped here. That’s when it turned into worry and anxiety.

Q: What kind of experiences did you have on the field trip?

A: Just losing control so completely. I’d never been physically trapped. Finding out there was nothing, that even the government can’t help. We were at odds with nature.

Q: What did people at school think?

A: People watched with curiosity. It was just so unusual. People, journalists, started reaching out to us like hey, would you do a phone interview? Some people thought it was funny, like “Why are my friends on CNN stuck in the mountains?”

Q: How did that shape you as a person?

A: It made me a little bit more patient, more optimistic. I realize now after having gone through that, I was really upset that first day. I resigned myself. I decided in my head I was just having an awful time. Now I’m looking back and realizing I enjoyed the time I spent there. I think that’s something I’ll carry with me.

Q: How did that shape your high school experience?

A: (It) made me feel closer to my five friends up there. It brought us together. It made some parts awkward … Everyone was feeling really vulnerable … The other thing, spoke at my graduation. Voted to be class speaker. Didn’t expect anyone was going to vote for me. (But a couple hundred people did.)

Q: Why?

A: Trying to figure that out. Everyone told me, I had one friend who was in ASB. How? Who’s voting for me? I hang out with the same people, try to be friendly but I don’t know that many people. She said, “I don’t know why you’re saying that. You leave a good impression.” … People thought I could give a good speech.

Q: Where are you headed now?

A: I’m going to WSU. I’m undecided (on a major). I had a conversation with someone there about studying communication, because I like talking to people.

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