Class of 2015 returns to Carmel Creek Elementary, where it all began

Carmel Creek Elementary’s 2003 kindergarten class, this year’s class of 2015, gathered at a reunion with their teachers on June 10.
Carmel Creek Elementary’s 2003 kindergarten class, this year’s class of 2015, gathered at a reunion with their teachers on June 10.
(Karen Billing)

A few days before they were set to graduate from high school and embark on a whole new adventure, a group of seniors from the class of 2015 retuned to their Carmel Creek Elementary roots for a reunion.

Students remarked on how little everything looked in the school, and how much they had changed from the photos in their 2003 kindergarten yearbook. They gave warm hugs to former teachers in attendance — as Principal Terri Davis said, while the kids had all grown up, the teachers could recognize the familiar sparkle in their eyes.

Davis read a letter from the students’ former teacher, Dawn Garapich-Butler, who is battling cancer and was unable to attend.

“This class was one of my all-time favorites,” Garapich-Butler wrote. “This was one of the most sensitive, compassionate, caring and creative group of students I’ve ever taught and we just had so much fun together.”

The event was organized by Torrey Pines High senior Mackenzie Bath, who encouraged everyone to come wearing a shirt that represented where they were headed in the fall and to come armed with a memory from their days as a Carmel Creek Cougar.

Many students remembered the fun of Gold Rush Days, attempting to play the recorder and sounding horrible, and the foot charms earned in running club.

“The only time I ever got detention was throwing dirt clots at you, Nick (Anderson), so I’m sorry,” said Alex Maloney, who is headed to University of Wisconsin.

While several of the boys will be together at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, a couple will be at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Kailee Brashears and Katie Buhai will head south to the University of Alabama (“Roll Tide”), the majority of students were striking out on their own all over the country.

Students were headed to UC Santa Barbara, Indiana University, University of Washington, University of Arizona and University of Utah, and Manhattanville College in New York. Camille Oemcke will play volleyball at Boston College; Eric Chen will study biomedical engineering at Yale University.

Teachers shared their memories of the class and gave advice for the future, such as to find something they love and to simply “be great.”

“Enjoy these last few moments with each other, they are very special,” Davis said. “There is a level of trust you have with someone you’ve grown up with … This is your family.”

Teacher Katherine Orrell offered the most important piece of advice given at most Carmel Creek reunions: “Call your mom.”


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