Spokane STEM high school grieves the end of an era

Students are grieving at Riverpoint Academy in north Spokane. Not for the loss of someone they know, but for the school they love. Students and staff have been working away for the past couple weeks boxing up and clearing everything out.

“As they were packing everything in the boxes, I just kind of was blocking it out and not even thinking that it was even going to be happening – that I won’t be coming to this school next year,” said Calli Graham, junior at Riverpoint Academy.

Friday is the last day of school for Riverpoint Academy students – ever. After summer break, they’ll have to go to their new assigned school.

Last month, the Mead School Board approved budget cuts to make up for a $12 million gap. Cuts included closing M.E.A.D. and Riverpoint Academy alternative schools. Riverpoint Academy has nearly 200 students. About thirty recently graduated, now the rest will have to finish their high school career somewhere else.

When you think about the last day of school – you think about laughter, you think about smiles, and all of the students waiting for those final minutes so that summer break can start. That’s not how it was Thursday at Riverpoint Academy. It was quite the opposite.

“It’s sad. Like, it makes me want to cry,” said Reghan Lightsey, freshman at Riverpoint Academy.

“It really hurts, I wish it wouldn’t have closed. But it is how it is,” said Lakotah Henderson, freshman at Riverpoint Academy.

“It’s really, really heartbreaking,” Graham said.

Students at Riverpoint Academy are going through the five stages of grief.

Some students still in denial.

“It’s hard,” said Ethan Rabe, sophomore at Riverpoint Academy. “I’ve been kind of going through this week like it’s been a normal week, almost in denial.”

Other students dealing with anger.

“It made me so angry that I’m losing these chances,” Henderson said.

For some, depression.

“I want to say depressed for the past couple weeks, figuring this out,” Lightsey said.

As the last day of school comes, students are getting around to the reality of the end of an era.

“I love it dearly,” said Parker Wall, sophomore at Riverpoint Academy. “This school means a lot to me.”

A school, these students said is like nothing else.

“Teachers, here, care for the kids so much that other schools just don’t have that,” Henderson said.

“It’s really crazy to me and it doesn’t even seem real,” Graham said.

“It’s just such an important part of the Mead community,” Rabe said. “It’s such a special school.”

As some students work through the first four stages, other students have already reached acceptance.

“This is just an opportunity for us as people to grow and push through this hard time,” Henderson said.

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