The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) oversees athletics and fine arts for schools statewide and its most prestigious annual award is the Scholastic Cup in recognition of academic, athletic and sportsmanship excellence.
Sehome High School (2nd), Bellingham High School (4th) and Squalicum High School (5th) placed in the top five of the statewide Scholastic Cup standings among nearly 70 peer schools in the 2A classification during the 2021-2022 academic year, a testament to all-around dedication and performance of student-athletes, coaches, staff and the school district.
Schools finishing at the top of their respective classifications in state athletic competition receive points, as do schools finishing at the top in team academic performance. Sportsmanship is also a factor in the point system. The final results take into factor each WIAA-affiliated program at a school throughout the entire year.
“This reflects on the success of The Bellingham Promise,” said Laurel Peak, Bellingham Public Schools Director of Athletics and Activities. “It genuinely captures the classroom piece, the character piece and the extracurricular piece. It’s such an example of The Promise in action.”
Among the many scoring programs were a combined 13 team state champion titles between athletic and academic honors (see story photos).
State titles in athletic competition were won by Sehome (girls cross country, boys track & field) and Squalicum (boys cross country, boys soccer) while each school had multiple academic state champions (Bellingham: boys soccer, girls swimming & diving, boys wrestling; Sehome: slowpitch softball, girls tennis, boys track and field, girls track and field; Squalicum: boys cross country, football).
“We have a lot of fun within our conference from a competitive standpoint comparing programs and celebrating each other,” said Colin Cushman, Sehome High School Activities and Athletics Coordinator. “It’s representative of where we are as a school district. We compete hard both in the athletic area and academically. It represents our depth within our programs – our fine arts programs performing with music and dance are part of this too – and it shows you we’ve developed the whole child, and that’s something all of us take great pride in.”
The BPS athletics and activities team was quick to express its deep gratitude for all the staff who play integral roles in supporting the high-level performance of students in all areas.
“We could not do this without all our amazing teachers and academic staff,” Peak said. “The work of our transportation department, with numerous trips to and from events, and our operations team – from facilities to health services to capital projects – all play such key roles in a One Schoolhouse approach to supporting our students.”
This year’s Scholastic Cup finish is not a new trend for BPS high schools, with admirable performances over the last decade-plus. Sehome is a nine-time Scholastic Cup champion and Squalicum is a one-time champion. There have been 25 combined top-five finishes among the Mariners (11), Bayhawks (nine) and Storm (five) in the award’s history.
“It’s really impressive, and it has been for a while, that our high schools in Bellingham have excelled in the classroom and in areas of competition,” said Patrick Brown, Squalicum Activities and Athletics Coordinator. “To have three of the top five among 67 schools in the Scholastic Cup is really a reflection of not only the great programs and coaching, but also the great academics and success in the classroom.”
Efforts to pursue exceptional performance in all areas is a continuous emphasis each year to put the values of The Bellingham Promise into action.
“It’s something that we do promote at the beginning of each season with our coaches, players and parents,” said Chad Larsen, Bellingham High School Activities and Athletics Coordinator. “It’s a great reminder that we want well-rounded, multiple-sport student-athletes who exemplify great sportsmanship at our school. Our results over the past decade have reflected that’s where our values are at.”