SEQUIM — For Robby Streett, a library was a sanctuary filled with imagination and knowledge. His mom Josslyn said he could usually be found one of two places — in the Sequim High School’s Library or the Sequim Library across the street.
Now, thanks to his Sequim High classmates, the 16-year-old who died July 20, 2017, will have a permanent spot in the school library.
With the support of 2018 SHS graduate Annabelle Armstrong, SHS senior-to-be Lesae Pfeffer, and the Class of 2019, students installed three new living room sets including three new couches, three coffee tables and six chairs in the library.
Armstrong and Pfeffer worked as the volunteers behind the Robby Streett Legacy Fund for the last year-and-a-half, raising funds for the project completed June 4.
“They helped turn this horrible tragedy into something that’s positive,” Josslyn Streett said.
Robby, 16, and his father Robert, 52, died after being struck in a head-on collision in Colorado; Josslyn and Robby’s brother Sawyer survived the crash.
Robby would have graduated with the Sequim class on June 7. Organizers held a moment of silence for him and teacher Dana Minard, who died this school year.
Armstrong began researching the idea of doing something for Robby in early 2018.
“I had a friend-of-a-friend die my freshman year and not a lot was said about it, so I wanted to do something that matters,” Armstrong said. “I talked to Lesae [one of Robby’s first friends in Sequim] and she knew Josslyn.”
Josslyn Streett said when the girls approached her, their hope was for fellow students to find healing through grief, too.
“It’s tough to lose a classmate,” she said. “I really identified with that reasoning.”
The girls said they initially looked at doing some work in a science classroom but the needs were too costly. So Pfeffer suggested a couch in the library.
“I thought Robby would like that,” Josslyn Streett said. “And we started thinking we could get one couch, maybe more but with a lot of help we got three living room sets for the library.”
Armstrong and Pfeffer organized several events including a showing of “Ready Player One” — a movie adaptation of Robby’s favorite book — and a block party, a Night at the Museum, car washes, book sale and blood drive. They also set up a GoFundMe account.
The students raised about $6,000 between the events.
Sequim High School librarian Linsay Rapelje said the new living room sets are the library’s first new furnishings, aside from donated and worn pieces from teachers and staff.
She said the plaque, donated by the Class of 2019, will be a good conversation starter and remind students that they matter and are valued.
Joe Marvelle, owner of Port Angeles’ The Warehouse and a Sequim High grad, worked with the SHS students on their vision by recommending the most durable furniture, Pfeffer said. Marvelle even attempted to look for purple and gold couches to match the school colors, she said.
Pfeffer said it’s been an honor to work on the project.
“I think it’s such a big thing,” she said. “I know it’s impacted so many lives.”
Armstrong said she hopes the library project is an example to fellow teens that they shouldn’t bottle in emotions — particularly after a tragedy — but rather to “have an outlet when you’re feeling down.”
Through the past year-and-a-half, Josslyn Streett said feels the project has helped her to heal, too.
“I got to meet some of the people who knew Robby, and I think getting together and getting to know each other and tell stories about him was healing,” she said.
For more information on Sequim High School, 601 N. Sequim Ave., call 360-582-3600.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].