Student leaders pave the way for Patriot Way
June 25, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
Liberty High School students are used to driving down 168th Avenue Southeast to get to school every day, but come fall, that road will cease to exist as they know it.
After months of work put in by the Liberty Associated Student Body, the familiar road traveled by countless members of the Patriot community will officially be rebranded as Patriot Way.
In an endeavor that began in September, members of the Liberty ASB rang neighborhood door bells, met with the King County Council and contacted the County Department of Transportation to make Patriot Way a reality.
“I thought it was going to be really, really easy,” said Liberty junior Megan Larson, one of the students who led the effort. “I thought it was just going to be, ‘Hey, let’s get a new street sign and call it Patriot Way.’ It was actually a lot of work.”
The work began with the arduous task of knocking on doors and getting neighbors’ approval for the name change.
“When we would go, we didn’t know what to expect,” Liberty junior Hannah VanAmen said. “We didn’t know if people were going to get angry or just be like totally for it.”
Most were receptive to the change, VanAmen said, but some were weary of the necessary steps they would have to take to change their address.
“We told them that we would take care of that,” Larson said. “Our pitch was that it’s for school spirit, we are a close-knit community, so why don’t we all just work together?”
More often than not, the door-belling students were greeted by people who had lived there for years, had attended the school themselves or had sent their children to Liberty.
The next step in the process was to present the proposal to the King County Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee. There, the students met with Councilman Reagan Dunn, whose district includes Liberty.
“Doing the leg work to make this name change a reality was a long, arduous process,” Dunn said in a statement. “The students worked hard on this project and should be proud of the lasting legacy they will leave behind for Liberty High School.”
They also met with Councilman Rod Dembowski, a graduate of Liberty rival Hazen High School.
“He was even for it and he said, ‘I’m a Hazen Highlander, but that’s a great idea, what you guys are doing,’” Liberty junior Shaniah Adriano said. “It was really cool because we thought it would be super formal and uptight, but it was actually really laid back.”
The committee forwarded the proposal to the King County Council with a “Do Pass” recommendation June 4. Nearly two weeks later, the full council unanimously adopted legislation renaming the street.
“Anybody who knows the kids at Liberty High School would not find this surprising,” Liberty Principal Josh Almy said in a statement. “That’s the make-up of our kids — hard working, can-do attitudes always focused on doing what’s best for Liberty and what’s best for the community.”
For the Liberty students who spent hours upon hours and several weekends to make Patriot Way happen, it was a chance to leave an indelible mark on the school they love, and show just what it means to be part of the Liberty ASB.
“We do a lot for the school, and I think having that up there, kids can understand how much involvement ASB has,” VanAmen said.
It’s also a way to quell the stresses that come with studying, playing and learning on a school campus that has become a construction zone, Adriano said.
“It’s a way to wake up our spirit,” she said. “With the construction, our spirit has really been decreasing. It’s just not what it used to be. Hopefully, this will boost our morale.”
The new Patriot Way sign is expected to be installed this fall.
“The legacy that we’re going to leave behind is really important,” Larson said. “It was a fun experience.”