SEQUIM — A coffee klatsch conversation led to a garden of painted “milestone” rocks for Sequim High School’s Class of 2020.
“I think it came about with a bunch of us having socially-distanced coffee and bemoaning the fact the graduating seniors wouldn’t have the same experience we did,” in light of COVID-19 restrictions on graduation ceremonies, said Sarah Miller, who oversaw the project.
They decided to paint 206 rocks — most with the school’s mascot of wolves heads or paw prints, many in school colors and some with quotations on the back.
The rocks, one for each graduate, were placed in the Kindness Rock Garden in Whimsey Park on East Washington Avenue to be found and claimed.
The rocks are “recognizing that the graduates achieved a milestone,” Miller said.
Sequim High School seniors received their diplomas in a drive-in ceremony on Friday, but some of the rocks are still at Whimsey Park awaiting graduates to claim them.
In addition to Miller, among those involved in the project were Melissa Meredith, Camille Leonardo, Sharla Bailey, Dianne Williams, Deb Krolikiewicz, Sharla Bailey, Connie Vanroosendaal, Nikki Carr and Pat Shook — some members of the weekly coffee klatsch and others who just got interested.
“A group of local ladies chose to honor the graduates in a unique way,” Shook said when she announced the effort to Peninsula Daily News. “These ladies wanted to give each graduate a memento to remember their achievement.
“Things like this make me so happy I chose to move to Sequim,” Shook added in the email. “It’s called love in action.”
The women had long gathered weekly for coffee and conversation. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, they met virtually or in a yard sitting 6 feet apart.
Many had painted rocks as a hobby. Some were new to the art.
“None of us think of ourselves as artists,” Miller said. “We have all levels of skill and all levels of interest.
“There were those who said I couldn’t paint a straight line to save my life. Then we said, well, paint a crooked line,” she added.
The finished rocks were placed in the Kindness Rock Garden the weekend of June 6, Miller said.
The first two days, Miller and others sat there and “babysat” the rocks to ensure they went to the graduates for which they were intended.
One of those days, it was “raining like crazy, which made it nice for pulling weeds,” Miller said.
Weed-pulling, to hear Miller tell it, is apparently a kind of rent for the Kindness Rock Garden.
Miller and others had approached Ken Stringer, organizer of the park that opened in May 2017 in a vacant lot between Jose’s Famous Salsa and The Rusting Rooster, about adding the Kindness garden. In return, the women would pull weeds, Miller said. He agreed.
Sitting near the rocks those first two days was “the very best part” of the project, Miller said.
“I have so much faith in this year’s class because so many of them came up, and they were just so appreciative.
“There was one who came up to us and said hi. I said, ‘It’s kind of hokey,’ and he said, ‘You don’t know how much this means to us.’
“It was so sweet. It was pretty cool.”
Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at [email protected].