When the Searle quadruplets headed off to their first full day of school 12 years ago, their mother, Jennifer, did a cartwheel in the Canyon View Elementary playground to celebrate. She followed it up with three more across her front lawn when she got home — one for each child.
Now that her teens are graduating together from Brighton High this week — and are four of the some 2,500 seniors who make up Canyons’ Class of 2020 — Jennifer has been thinking about that first day of first grade and feeling very much the same way: it’s time to celebrate.
“If my kids are happy, that makes me happy,” Jennifer Searle said recently. “They are excited to start (college) so I figure, why be sad if they are happy?”
After having attended every year of school since kindergarten in a school in Canyons District, the Searle siblings — Alyse, Alec, Brooke and Bryson — will be the first quadruplets to graduate from CSD, now ending its 11th school year. Their four-in-one-class situation is rare, but as the quadruplets have negotiated their final year of school — two months of which have been at home, due to the soft closure of Canyons schools on March 11 to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus — the siblings say they’ve found strength in their numbers.
“Right now it’s super nice to have three other siblings going through this exact thing,” Alyse Searle said. “We all have the same classes so we all get to help each other, which is very, very nice. But I think the best part is always having someone there to do stuff with you. If I want to go on a hike, I can just bring one of my siblings with me, or we can always play games together because there are enough people.”
The Searles will join other Brighton Bengals, Alta Hawks, Corner Canyon Chargers, Hillcrest Huskies, Jordan Beetdiggers, and Diamond Ridge Raptors at events on Wednesday and Thursday to mark Graduation Day. Canyons high schools are holding “drive through graduation” activities so students can celebrate their accomplishments while also staying safe in the era of COVID-19. Even though this year’s Graduation Day is atypical, CSD schools are pulling out the stops to make the day memorable. At several locations, police will give flashing-light escorts to caravans of cars, family and friends will line sidewalks with congratulatory posters, and some events will be streamed live via the Internet for those at home.
In the fall, if mass-gathering restrictions are relaxed further, CSD schools will hold traditional ceremonies.
The Canyons Board of Education applauds graduates for all they have accomplished, “even in the midst of a global pandemic.”
“Certainly, we all wish you could have enjoyed the traditional events that are part of a senior year. Our hearts ache that you did not get to experience those last moments on performing stages and athletic fields, or in classes with your friends and favorite teachers. Yet, we are confident that what you have learned and experienced during your high school years will contribute to your future successes,” says a letter from the Board of Education that will be given to seniors after they cross the stages to receive their diplomas.
“The Class of 2020 is like no other!,” reads the Board’s message. “You have successfully navigated academic demands and social relationships in times of required physical distancing. You are digital natives who intrinsically know how to make connections using the technology that is in the palm of your hands. You also are entering adulthood at a time that is calling for your talents, leadership, and spirit. We encourage you, as a proud graduate of a Canyons high school, to recognize the power of your capabilities, spirit, and ingenuity. As the poet Emerson reminds us: ‘What lies behind you, and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside you.’”
Gauging from their choice of extracurricular activities while at Brighton, the Searles teens have taken Emerson’s words to heart. They know how to dig deep inside to keep moving forward. All four competed in cross country and track and field, sports require a commitment to push into a challenge.
When their mother attended meets, she never had to kill time waiting to see her kids’ events. One of the four of them was always at the starting line.
Their bond has other perks, too. They share the same group of friends, and they support each other in their different interests, as Alec participated in Madrigals this year and Bryson participated in Model United Nations. They also share a common goal — all four siblings have been on the honor roll all four years of high school, and all four earned and accepted academic merit scholarships to Dixie State University. Their built-in buddy system will come in handy as three of the siblings head to Dixie State, while one plans to leave for a volunteer church mission and join them after.
“I’m glad they have each other to keep an eye out and make sure they’re safe every night,” Jennifer Searle said. “I don’t have to worry about them that way, because there is someone always looking out for them.”
Of all of the pros that come from sharing so much in their group of four, there is one small con, Bryson Searle says: they share one car. “The biggest challenge is, if we all need to go places, we have a limited number of cars,” Bryson said. “We can’t go a lot of different places at the same time, but it hasn’t been too bad.”