The roots go deep. And wide.
It’s no mere coincidence that Richard Seaworth of Wellington was chosen to be the first president of the student council at Poudre High School when it opened in 1964. Neither was it a random, unexpected event when Sophie Bibbey, now a senior at Poudre, was chosen to lead the Impalas through the 2014-15 school as student council president.
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What is coincidental is the fact that both these student leaders live in Wellington and are products of the Wellington schools. Seaworth attended Wellington Elementary and Junior High, and Wellington High School until it was dissolved before the start of his senior year. Sophie went to Wellington elementary and middle schools before enrolling at Poudre.
Agricultural and educational roots go way back in the families of this pair of civic-minded individuals. It’s in their blood.
Seaworth, who took over the family farm when his father had a serious accident the year after he graduated from Poudre, has been in the farm and ranch business his whole life, owning farm and ranches in four states. Today his son Troy operates family ranching operations in Colorado and Nebraska.
Before reorganization, his grandfather, William Seaworth, was president of the LaPorte schools and his father, Harlan Seaworth, presided over Wellington schools before consolidation. When the Poudre R1 school district, (later to become Poudre School District) was formed, Harlan Seaworth joined the newly formed board of education.
Jim Bibbey, Sophie’s grandfather, taught science at Poudre High School and his wife, Elaine taught English and health at Wellington Junior High School. Today Sophie’s aunt, Kristy Bibbey teaches physics at Poudre and her husband, Jeff, teaches at Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins. Sophie’s father, Dave, lives on the property where he grew up and is in the sunglasses industry.
Seaworth has continued to serve his community throughout his life and recently volunteered to fill a void and return to the Boxelder Storm Water Authority to serve another term.
These days Sophie is beginning to seek out a university where she can pursue her interest in leadership and non-profit organizations, a passion that developed as she served in student council as secretary and vice president before being elected president.
Seaworth said he became student body president, “almost by default.” Along with Karen Vogel and Ken DeLeo, he was elected by the sophomore class at Wellington High School to serve on the formation committee for the new high school. The committee was charged with deciding on a logo, colors and a team mascot.
“We chose the Impala, probably because the Chevrolet Impala was a popular car at the time,” Seaworth said. “The squiggly line in the logo represented the Poudre River and the three divisions acknowledged the coming together of Fort Collins, Wellington and LaPorte to form the school.” An election for student council officers was held in the fall and Richard became the obvious choice for the job.
Sophie and Seaworth agree that student council president provides lots of opportunities for public speaking. Seaworth has a particularly vivid recollection of speaking to the Fort Collins Rotary Club at the old Ladd’s Covered Wagon on North College Avenue.
Sophie serves as a student member of the Impala Board, a fundraising entity for the school. “During the summer I attended staff meetings and organized a two-day student council training.” she said. She oversees several student council officers and eight committees and describes her job as being “the public face” of the school. Poudre Student Council now has 55 members representing all four grades.
As the pair visited with each other on a Saturday morning at Sophie’s home, they discovered that things at Poudre really haven’t changed as much as one might imagine in 50 years. The school has grown from 800 to 1,800 students. Typing classes have been replaced by “keyboarding” and computer labs. There’s a wider array of classes and a few more sports available.
Because there were no alums to “come home” there was no homecoming in 1964. Instead a “Poudre Premiere” dance substituted for homecoming.
“Things are much less formal now,” Sophie said. “I was homecoming queen for the junior class last year and I didn’t even wear a dress.”
Seaworth recalls wearing a sports coat and tie to address assemblies while football jerseys seem to be in vogue these days.
What has not changed, they both agreed, is an atmosphere at Poudre that Sophie said “nurtures independence. At the same time, whenever you need help, there is someone available to answer your questions.”
Acknowledging the cultural diversity of the school’s population, Sophie said, “We embrace the cowboy lifestyle at Poudre.”
PHS 50th anniversary
celebration is Oct. 9-11
In honor of Poudre High School’s 50th anniversary, there will be a three-day celebration sponsored by a Poudre Legacy and Traditions (PLATE) Event, Oct. 9-11. The event will celebrate Poudre’s half-century mark and raise funds to support the school’s programs.
On Thursday Oct. 9, a mixer at the Silver Grill in Fort Collins will honor alumni and retired and current PHS staff. Homecoming festivities will take place on Friday, Oct. 10 including a football game against Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins.
The celebration concludes with the 50th Anniversary Gala at the Fort Collins Marriott Hotel.
Reid Pope, Poudre High School’s first principal, who served for 21 years, is honorary chair of the events and will be recognized at the gala. Register for the events at www.poudre50.com or by calling 970-217-2414.