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Washington Voices

Family’s ties deep with Central Valley

Graduate will make four generations of Bears

When Sarah Matlack, 18, walks across the stage today to receive her diploma from Central Valley High School, she will be following in the footsteps of her father, John, 50, who graduated from Central Valley in 1980.

And her grandmother, Joan Matlack, 77, who graduated from Central Valley in 1952. Her great-grandmother, Lydia Tobert, graduated from Central Valley in 1930.

“I always knew I’d go there,” Sarah said. “There’s a history. I talk about how I’m a fourth-generation student.”

Joan Matlack said Tobert died in 2004 at the age of 92. Tobert’s parents immigrated to America from Germany and settled in Spokane’s South Perry neighborhood. Joan Matlack remembers her mother telling her of her grandparents, who couldn’t read English, finally moving to Spokane Valley to run a farm.

Tobert attended Vera Grade School before attending Central Valley.

Joan Matlack looked back fondly on her years at CV. She was on the tennis team. She remembers football games – the school’s main rival was West Valley High School at the time. She was on the drill team – the Bearettes – and performed during the halftime shows.

“I still have my letter,” she said.

There was a stray dog on the campus the students named Nero. She also remembers the building of the school, not so fondly.

“The building was poorly built,” she said. Students at the school helped to build it, she said.

John Matlack’s memories of CV took place in a different building. He remembers his senior year when the teachers were on strike, keeping everyone out of school. He was on the football team and by the time the first football game came around, everyone was excited to go.

“I thought, ‘This is the biggest game I’ve ever played in,’ ” he said.

As graduation neared, there was another event that kept students from the school. On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted, covering the area with volcanic ash. Students were kept home for a week.

“I was lucky to make it out of there,” he joked.

While he was at CV, he played baseball, too. He played the tuba and trumpet in the band. He remembers going to Spokane to cruise Riverside Avenue.

“I enjoyed it,” he said. “I had a close group of friends. I had a lot of fun.”

Joan Matlack said she graduated in a class of about 160 students. Sarah estimates the size of her class to be around 500.

Sarah attended CV in the building that opened in 1998 at Eighth and Sullivan.

She, like her grandmother, played tennis. She also played volleyball and softball during her freshman and sophomore years. Her senior project involved raising funds to build a well for a village in Uganda.

Sarah feels CV is a special place. She noted the school’s dominance in so many areas over this past school year. The school band has won many awards. The Knowledge Bowl team took first place in state. This year’s Lilac Queen, Sydnee Scofield, is from CV.

“We dominated in sports,” she said. “I definitely think I go to the best school in the area.”

John Matlack agreed with Sarah’s assessment, noting that he saw many of his old classmates at football games this year.

“There’s a pride in being from CV,” he said. “There’s something about that school that people don’t want to leave.”

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