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News >  K-12 education

West Valley hits a home run with ‘incredibly exciting’ graduation plan for the Spokane Indians’ Avista Stadium

UPDATED: Wed., June 2, 2021

Fans make their way around the stadium as the Spokane Indians take on Eugene during opening day at Avista Stadium on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.   (KATHY PLONKA/ THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Fans make their way around the stadium as the Spokane Indians take on Eugene during opening day at Avista Stadium on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.  (KATHY PLONKA/ THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

The scorecards aren’t in yet, but West Valley High School just hit a home run for the class of 2021.

On the evening of June 14, the graduating seniors and their families will make a little history and a lot of memories under the lights at Avista Stadium – a diamond jubilee, if you will.

There will be no shortage of baseball analogies that night when the class of 190-odd seniors will be the first from any school to graduate at the home of the Spokane Indians.

With their loved ones in the stands, the graduates will sit in the infield. When the time comes, each will round the bases, from first to third, and receive their diplomas at home plate.

As each graduate’s name is called, it also will be displayed on the giant Avista scoreboard.

“It’s incredibly exciting, especially with everything that’s transpired this year,” Principal Ryan Mulvey said.

Not only did the West Valley class of 2021 – like the vast majority of seniors across the country – lose the tail end of their junior year to the pandemic, they began this year in distance learning only.

Finally back in buildings two months ago, the school suffered a spike in COVID-19 cases in early May. That forced everyone back into remote learning for almost two weeks.

“It’s been a tough year for these seniors,” Mulvey said. “Finally getting back was really important.”

So were those senior moments, especially prom, which was held at the flight museum at Felts Field.

“Our kids were able to have a great prom,” Mulvey said.

But since March, the school had been seeking an improvement over last year’s drive-thru graduation, which kept families together but at the expense of that last hurrah for students in one setting.

Long accustomed to holding graduation at the First Interstate Center for the Arts, the school has a football stadium, which has been a favorite commencement site at many schools during the pandemic.

However, West Valley’s north end zone is barely 20 yards from the train tracks.

“And our sound system isn’t that great,” Mulvey said. “So we started looking and reaching out.”

Vice principal Jeff Smith and activities coordinator Tami Henry got a response from Avista that was out of the park.

Two days after contacting the company, Smith and Hendy got a walkthrough at the stadium.

“We had some ideas for graduation, but theirs were way better,” Mulvey said of the final arrangements.

Sure to be the most poignant is the seating of all families in the left-field seats, from where they can cheer their graduates all the way to home plate.

“The kids are super excited for this,” Mulvey said.

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