Alumni banquet honors La Conner Class of '23

 

Madoc Hiller

The newest members of the oldest active high school alumni association in Washington state were welcomed into the fold Saturday night in La Conner.

Members of the Class of 2023 were feted during the 109th annual La Conner Alumni Banquet and Program at the middle school, just hours prior to departing on their senior trip to Knott's Berry Farm.

"La Conner is just so special," said 2022-23 high school student body president Rachel Haley, speaking on behalf of her classmates. "We're proud to graduate here and be part of this association."

Haley was one of four class members – with Madoc Hiller, Hadley Shears and Finn Hakenson – to receive alumni association scholarships during the event, which included ovations for retiring counselor Lori Buher and Outstanding Alumnus Award recipient Kim Good Rubenstein.

Buher joined Middle and High School Principal Christine Tripp, herself an alum, in citing the many achievements of this year's graduating class.

Both emphasized the group's wide range of interests.

"We have athletes, musicians, students interested in auto mechanics, pre-medicine, business and cosmetology," Tripp said. "It's a good group of students and they're even better human beings."

"This is a very resilient class," Buher said, noting obstacles created by the COVID-19 pandemic. "We have such strong students. I could go on and on about this class."

Buher said the class not only survived, but thrived, despite isolation imposed when the pandemic forced students to rely upon online instruction for an extended period.

"They experienced a lot of growth," Buher recounted. "They did their schoolwork and what they needed to do to help their families."

And in doing so they followed a path Rubenstein has trod since her graduation here in 1973, enjoying impactful careers in hotel management and as a champion for inclusive education and most recently as a volunteer for numerous local organizations.

She was introduced by her sisters, Virginia Good-Vlahovich and Patsy Good.

"Why was my sister chosen (as outstanding alumnus)?" Good asked. "How much time do you have?

"There always will be more to say about Kim," she added, citing her sister's unwavering devotion to the community.

"I definitely love La Conner and always will love La Conner," Rubenstein said upon accepting her award. "Even when I went to California to pursue my career, I took La Conner with me."

She encouraged Class of '23 members to do the same and stressed the importance of teamwork.

"Everything I've done in my life," she said, "I've been able to do only with the support of others."

Master of ceremonies Jay Hulbert, Rubenstein's high school classmate, invited members of reunion classes to share remarks and memories.

Dorothy Dalan ('53), Linda Reynolds Gravely ('63) and Jane Anderson ('83) each spoke briefly.

Dalan was joined at the banquet by two classmates, her husband, Roger Dalan and Sybil Jenson. She said seven of the 16 members of the class are living.

"We're glad to be here. We're glad to be anywhere," she quipped.

Gravely said she had attended larger schools while growing up on the East Coast. But after moving to La Conner she was able to know all her classmates. She noted that in what is a rarity these days, she has resided continuously in the same house in La Conner for six decades.

Anderson shared the comparative costs of consumer goods from 40 years ago and added that the school's football team coached by Landy James advanced to the state semifinals her senior year.

Alumni Association President Jim Hernandez offered the formal welcome prior to dinner catered by La Conner Seafood and Prime Rib House, announcing that an additional post-graduate alumni scholarship had been awarded to Charity Dakota Jordan, who represented the school three times at the national Geography Bee.

It was Rubenstein, though, who recited the overarching theme of the banquet – that of the lifelong camaraderie and sense of belonging shared by La Conner alums.

"They say you can't go home again. But that's not true," Rubenstein insisted, casting her gaze upon this year's graduates. "You really can go home again."

 

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