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Friday, June 7, 1991 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Merger Word Rarely Heard In School -- Edmonds-Woodway Survives Togetherness

EDMONDS - Last year, they were shouting each other down from opposite sides of a football stadium.

Now, they're classmates and too busy to worry about past rivalries.

Too busy signing each other's yearbooks.

Those, uh, lavender ones.

"Those were obviously done by the Woodway people," joked Matt Loyd, 18, who spent three years as an Edmonds High Tiger before the school merged with Woodway this year.

Well, maybe, but check out the new logo Loyd designed using Edmonds' and Woodway's combined colors - purple, orange, green, white and - what's that, yellow?

"That's actually gold," Loyd corrected. An Edmonds color.

"You could call it puke yellow," laughed Peter Kim, 17, a former Woodway Warrior.

If these are the problems many dreaded when the Edmonds School District planned the first high-school merger in Snohomish County in 15 years, then Edmonds-Woodway Principal Rainer Houser is ready for new challenges. By all accounts, the blend has been a success.

The district felt it could save money and broaden class offerings by combining two medium-sized high schools. Initially, there were concerns the coupling of the two schools might prove troublesome.

"I remember in a lot of merger meetings, it was the parents who would freak out a lot, and the kids would just sit back and say, `We'll be fine,' " said senior Angie McGuire, 17, a volleyball and basketball star.

But thanks to Houser and a committee made up of administrators, teachers, parents and students, the transition has gone as smoothly as a well-prepared-for quiz.

Not that there weren't a few rough spots. Most feel the district played it smart by bringing Houser on a year early to engineer the planning of the 1,400-student Edmonds-Woodway High.

Students at Woodway thought they'd be heading for Edmonds, but the School Board instead decided Edmonds students would move.

"People say a building's not important," said Jami Zahnow, 18, a former Tiger and one of Edmonds-Woodway's student-body co-secretaries. "But I still drive by Edmonds and feel that bond there."

The thought that their city could be without a high school bearing its name prompted Edmonds City Council members and Mayor Larry Naughten to urge citizenry to action. Finally, the steering committee opted for the dual name, doomed the Tiger to extinction and decided to keep all five colors of the two schools.

At Edmonds-Woodway, officers were chosen from each school to represent the merged student body during the first year. The district began holding joint events last year.

By the time the year started, the biggest problem was overcrowding and former Edmonds students trying to find their way around their new campus.

"In the end, it was the kids who really, day by day, took hold of it and made it a success," said Principal Houser.

One reason is that many were once classmates at College Place Middle School. They said teary goodbyes when they were promoted, then decided whether to attend Edmonds or Woodway. And the rivalry began.

Now, "you don't even remember who's from which school," said senior Margaret Kim, 18.

After a year in which team sports met much success, and in which many new couples are Edmonds-Woodway matches, few mention the "M"-word anymore.

The first senior class in the history of Edmonds-Woodway graduates Sunday at the unused Edmonds Stadium. Naturally, there was debate over which traditions to keep.

But after a few hitches, it's all decided now.

"I think it's because when you go to school, you just go to school," said McGuire. "It doesn't matter where it is. We're all part of the same school."

Copyright (c) 1991 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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