Spanaway Lake History
November of 1981 at a ceremony headlined by Washington State Senator Henry Jackson, Spanaway Lake High School opened its doors and became the second high school of the Bethel School District. The district had been looking for a location of a second high school and found it in the heart of the Spanaway community on 13th Avenue East and 168th St. East. The school started with just two grade levels, sophomores and juniors, allowing the seniors to graduate from the school they had been attending for the previous two years, Bethel High School. The first graduating class from Spanaway Lake came in June 1983.
The boundaries established that identified Spanaway Lake’s student population contained a populace rich in diverse ethnic backgrounds and cultural differences. From its very beginnings, it was the goal of the schools administration to recognize and honor these diversities. Numerous ASB clubs were formed (Heritage, Native American) which helped to serve the purpose of educating the student body with the message that cultural and ethnic differences did exist, but that all clubs and students deserved respect. The success of this idea did not happen overnight, but over the years the students at Spanaway Lake learned to celebrate their differences while still remaining fiercely loyal to each other and their school. For many students, Spanaway Lake became the best place to go each day.
The opening of a school comes with many challenges, some more significant than others. Selecting school colors and its mascot were two of those decisions. A committee of community members was formed to complete the challenge. The colors came down to a decision between the colors of the relatively new Seattle Seahawk football franchise, or those of the more established Oakland Raiders. At the time, the Raiders were enjoying more success while the young Seahawks were still finding their way. In the end, the committee selected black, silver, and white. The mascot decision took on a more local approach. Some of the committee members recalled a newspaper that had its circulation in an area known as the prairie, the Roy area. The newspaper had an armored knight, a sentinel, as its header. After some discussion and knowing that this was an opportunity to preserve some of the area’s history, the decision was made to make the sentinel the school’s mascot.
Over the past 35 years there have been many success stories to come from Spanaway Lake. These stories cover a wide variety of areas which is further evidence that opportunities exist for everyone who attended the school. With grace and eloquence, Tami Forman became the school’s first Daffodil Princess in 1982–83 with Emily Oliver becoming the 2015-16 princess and the Daffodil Pageant’s current Queen. Judy Gillespie, a classified employee, successfully managed the Spanaway Lake Craft Fair for years raising thousands of dollars for the school’s ASB Clubs and athletic department and thereby changing the school forever. Barnard Crouse’s development of the Spanaway Lake Music Company set the vocal and performance standards for choir programs across the state. Lawrence Reed had tremendous success working with students with special needs and entering them into the state’s Special Olympics competition where his students won two state titles in basketball, 2005 and 2009, and over an eight year period (2005–2013) finished six times in the top three positions. Paul Greeley developed a dominant wrestling program in the late 90’s which culminated in a hard fought state wrestling title in 2001 and continued to place in the top five in subsequent years. And, there were others who gained national recognition after graduating from Spanaway Lake. Jerry Cantrell, a former president of the choir club at SLHS, formed and became the lead guitarist, co-lead vocalist and main song writer for the rock band Alice in Chains. Derrike Cope, former baseball player at SLHS, became a professional race car driver and winner of the 1990 Daytona 500.
There are certainly many more success stories that have not been mentioned. As well, there are many more yet to come. Perhaps the most important success stories are those of the numerous graduates of Spanaway Lake High School that are solid, productive citizens working every day in their local communities.