Life's bumps no biggy for Codie Jenkins, IHS '04 valedictorian

Codie Jenkins says that it is her diligence and work ethic that made her the valedictorian of the 2004 class of Ilwaco High School.

ILWACO - Codie Jenkins was left out of the Ilwaco High School yearbook this year. The error by the student staff of the publication was corrected recently by making photo stickers from Jenkins senior portrait and adding her face to each one by hand.

"They say it wasn't a conspiracy, but ..." she said with a laugh.

This is simply a very small stone in the road that Jenkins has walked down to get where she is today - getting ready to give her speech as the valedictorian of the Class of 2004 Saturday at the Ilwaco High School graduation ceremony.

"It's kind of surreal to me," she said of the honor. "I'm really proud of myself. It's been a long road."

This journey began for her in the sixth grade, when she requested the state have herself taken out of her home due to domestic issues there. She was moved into a foster home, that of Earle and Mildred Adee, where she has lived happily the last seven years.

"I'm very happy. I'm one of the lucky ones," she said. "They made it easy to adjust - that's not something you hear often."

It has taken a long time, but Jenkins said that for the most part she has reconciled with her estranged parents, saying that her mom is more like a friend in her life now.

Jenkins has four siblings, including her older sister Carmen who graduated from IHS last year, and younger brother Chad, who attends IHS now. After she left the family home, the other siblings followed in the next year - all to different homes. She said though they have been spread out, they remain pretty close, but admits that it has been weird to not live with them, yet see them at school everyday.

"It's so weird," she said. "Carmen is my best friend and confidant, we're so close. We can't deal without each other."

Jenkins ended her high school career with a 3.955 GPA thanks to a B+ in pre-calculus - the first grade other than an A she received in high school.

"I hate math," she said with a bright smile, "but I was pretty proud of that grade. It was a tough B+."

But her time in school hasn't been all academia, she has kept herself quite busy with a variety of activities as well, including: softball, leadership, ASB vice president, LINK crew, National Honor Society and drama club. She has also kept a part-time job for many years, right now working at The Ark Restaurant.

But more than anything else, Camp Victory, a camp for sexually abused girls in Ocean Park, has been her top priority. Jenkins was first introduced to the camp when she went there as an 11-year-old.

"Camp Victory has been everything to me," she said. "It really has changed my life. It was a defining moment."

She has been volunteering at the camp the last several years and has recently been promoted to "buddy" status - a camp counselor-like position.

For her future plans, Jenkins will be working all summer at The Ark before heading off for St. Martin's College in Lacey - the same school as last year's valedictorian Heather Hocking.

The location, near Olympia, was important to her choice, with her sister Carmen just down the road at Evergreen State College. Through scholarships and grants she has the first year of school all taken care of, and already has her eye on funding for the second year. She said her goal will be something in the field of civil service, most likely to young people, saying that she wants to give back.

"A lot of people have helped me," she said. "It's hard in high school, not knowing who to talk to."

She knows that she can relate to other kids who have gone through similar experiences as she has.

"I want to help kids in that situation, because there's a lot of them out there."

As for her speech, she gets nervous just being asked about it. She has some ideas but is still brain-storming, thinking of maybe using a quote by Mother Theresa perhaps.

"I might take a day to filter it all," she said. "It shouldn't be rushed I guess."

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