190611-yh-news-ikegrad-3.jpg

Eisenhower High’s Hailey Adkison poses for a portrait on Monday, June 10, 2019, at St. Paul Cathedral, 15 S. 12th Ave. in Yakima, Wash. 

Eisenhower High School didn’t have a dance team when Hailey Adkison showed up as a freshman, so she started one.

A dancer since she was a toddler, Adkison had attended Selah schools prior to high school. Selah High has a dance team. Ike didn’t.

“I was like, ‘What the heck? There’s no dance team,’” she said. “So I was like ‘OK, I’ll make one.’ So I made a club first. I talked to the P.E. teacher and asked who might be a good adviser for it. And she said she’d supervise it. So she just kind of opened the doors for me. And I had whatever girls wanted to come, and I taught them dance.”

Adkison learned choreography as she went, then turned around and taught it to the rest of the team. They made their own outfits. They performed at basketball games. They did flash mobs in the cafeteria and had a whole lot of fun. Still, it was just a club not a real team like the competitive dance teams at Davis and West Valley high schools.

“So that year went by and I went and presented in front of the school board here at Ike, saying this is all the stuff we accomplished this year,” Adkison said. “And they said, ‘OK.’ And they hired a coach.”

The team struggled at first as a competitive, varsity squad. But that was beside the point. The school had a team.

“It took a year for us to compete,” Adkison said. “We competed my junior year. We didn’t do that well my junior year. We actually did pretty terrible. I’m not going to lie. We didn’t know what we were doing. But all of the people on the team were just happy to be a part of something.”

And this year the team placed in districts in the pom category.

“It was a tough ride, but I always was optimistic,” she said.

That’s kind of how Adkison, who graduates this evening, June 11, and is headed to Washington State University, works. She doesn’t accept things as they are. That’s also why she was such a good fit for teacher Duff Dewitt’s We Are Ike initiative, which raised money to subsidize yearbooks and student-event tickets so more of her classmates could afford them.

Adkison and a team of her peers made public presentations, reached out to potential donors and eventually were able to offer a $30 spirit pack that included the yearbook, a T-shirt and an ASB card, which allows for free or reduced-cost admission to events. Previously, that stuff would have cost nearly $100 total. The yearbook alone used to be $50. The difference was immediate. In 2016, Ike sold 440 yearbooks. In 2017, the school sold 1,300.

“We have this big yearbook party at the end of the year, and when we told the yearbook company, ‘This is how many yearbooks we want,’ they were like ‘What the heck?’” Adkison said. “They’d never produced that many.”

And that’s not going to change now that Adkison is leaving. Yearbooks will be affordable for Ike students for years to come, in part because of her efforts. And, though she’s quick to point out all of the help she had from teachers, advisers and other students, the main reason Ike will have a dance team next year, even as Adkison moves to Pullman, is because she wanted one badly enough to make it happen.

“I just loved being part of it,” she said. “Girls are doing things they never thought they’d be able to do.”

Reach Pat Muir at pmuir@yakimaherald.com.