BICKLETON, Wash. — Every graduate stands out in a class of only three.
So it goes for Kayli Berk, Sydnie Whitmore and Annie Lindsley, Bickleton School’s entire Class of 2014.
“A lot of people laugh,” said Berk. “They don’t believe us.”
It’s true. The three 18-year-olds will be the only walkers during the short graduation ceremony Saturday.
Small graduating classes are nothing new at Bickleton, which has only 90 students in grades K-12. Class pictures lining the walls of the commons range in size from one to 15 students.
Nothing about the ceremony changes based on size, said Ric Palmer, Bickleton School superintendent. “We do the same thing for three or 23,” Palmer said.
Overall, the girls say they like the small school and community. Teachers give them lots of attention, they leave their lockers wide open every day and nobody gets cut from a sports team.
“It is seriously all brothers and sisters,” Lindsley said.
Other than activities at the school, teen social life revolves around mudding, church youth groups and visiting people’s homes.
However, the small size has drawbacks, they said.
Everybody knows your business, class choices are limited, and prom is opened to the community just to reach the critical mass a dance requires. “There was, like, third-graders at our prom,” Berk said.
The students said they would have liked to take a class such as home economics or debate, which aren’t offered.
Also, the small school isn’t free from cliques and controversies over sports playing time just because it’s small.
“You have to be in it to see it,” Berk said.
The three girls are cut from cloths as different as they come but consider each other close friends all the same.
Berk is the overachiever, headed for Heritage University to study education and English.
The 4.0 student won one of 59 Act 6 Leadership and Scholarship Initiatives, which will pay for four years of tuition in exchange for ongoing community service. More than 900 students applied statewide.
She also is the associated student body president, and has lived in Bickleton since the first grade with a big family on a wheat farm.
Whitmore and Lindsley live in the Lower Valley, sometimes driving, sometimes catching rides with each other’s family and other times taking the hour-long bus ride.
Whitmore and her family moved to Bickleton in sixth grade, lived there for four years but moved to Mabton her freshman year to find a bigger house. However, she stayed in Bickleton schools.
She is the sports nut, having played volleyball, basketball and track. She has made the volleyball team at Columbia Basin College in Pasco, where she will attend in the fall to study nursing.
She has three siblings.
Lindsley, arguably the most social of the three girls, has lived in Grandview since she was 3 but switched to Bickleton her sophomore year to find an atmosphere with fewer distractions.
“It (Grandview) just wasn’t really the right place for me,” she said.