Mead High School guidance counselor Colleen Thornton describes Patrick McKee as “ambitious, driven, inquisitive, inventive and creative.”
Indeed, not many high school seniors have designed computer software or organized a citywide parade and Flag Day event.
McKee is fascinated by computers and how they work. “We got our first computer when I was 3,” he said. “It seemed like magic to me.” As he grew, his curiosity served as a catalyst for research and creativity. “I started writing software at age 9,” he said.
But computers weren’t the only thing that captured his imagination. McKee also plays the guitar and recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout.
His involvement in Scouting led him to one of his most ambitious projects. In June, he spearheaded the first Flag Day event in Spokane’s recent history.
“My family is very passionate about patriotism,” McKee said. “I guess they passed that down to me. I started researching the American flag and talking to veterans.”
Impressed and deeply moved by the stories of sacrifice and courage he heard from veterans, he looked for a way to honor them.
He wondered what happens to flags that are faded or frayed beyond mending. That’s when he discovered the solemn ritual of the flag retirement ceremony. Last May, as the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts approached, he asked Scouting officials if he could hold a flag retirement ceremony at the event. They agreed.
Three thousand people attended the anniversary celebration and observed the flag retirement program. That led to McKee’s invitation to teach flag etiquette at a Girl Scout program and to organize Spokane’s Flag Day event and parade.
The day dawned cool and rainy, yet, McKee said, “A thousand people came and cheered as Boy Scouts marched down the street.” He was heartened by the turnout and by the response of veterans to the flag retirement ceremony.
Thornton said, “Patrick exemplifies what it means to be a competent, caring and outstanding citizen.”
Despite his extracurricular activities, this year McKee tackled an ambitious class load, which included Advanced Placement classes in government, statistics and language.
He encourages underclassmen to make the most of their high school experience. “Stay involved,” he said. “Some people sit and wait for their four years to be done. Find a dream. Find a passion. Find something you want to do in life.”
McKee has been accepted by several universities, but he hasn’t made his final choice. However, his major will be the thing that has fascinated him since toddlerhood. “I definitely want to study computer science,” he said. “I’ve always been interested in what’s behind the magic.”