When Meadowdale High School’s ASB Advisor and Athletic Director Beth Marriott set foot in the school gymnasium in late February, she thought she would be giving routine coach evaluations. Little did she know, however, that the entire student body would be there to cheer her on as she was inducted into the Washington Activities Coordinators Association (WACA) Hall of Fame.
Marriott was met with a standing ovation as she made her way to the podium, still not completely sure what was happening.
“I had no idea that I was being inducted into the WACA Hall of Fame,” Marriott said. “Nor did I ever dream that I would be considered for such an honor. When I first walked in, I hoped that Publisher’s Clearing House had finally come to hand me a check, but what I got was so much better because it was recognition in a profession I love.”
Marriott’s daughter flew in from West Virginia for the ceremony, which to Marriott made the event even more special. Sporting a Meadowdale High hockey jersey, Marriott took to the podium surrounded by unicorn photos and stuffed animals – a tease at the quote: “Life is rainbows and unicorns…even in the toughest times.” Meadowdale’s Principal David Shockley said this quote perfectly describes Marriott’s attitude toward her position in the school.
The WACA Hall of Fame was established in 2002 to honor individuals who have made a long-lasting impact on student activities in Washington state.
Marriott said that her first reaction was that she didn’t think she was qualified to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“I did not feel I was deserving of this honor at the time, knowing some of the folks who have been honored before me,” she said. “But after some reflection, I will accept with great humility.”
Students and staff also took to the podium to share their favorite memories of Marriott, who has been the school’s ASB advisor since 2007, and the athletic director since 2013.
Marriott comes from a family of teachers and said she has always felt called to the profession. She started her career in middle schools, feeling she was too young to effectively lead high schoolers, even though that’s where she felt most drawn.
She also had a deep appreciation for her athletic director while she attended high school, and said she thought she could be a great asset to the department when she grew older.
“[I always] dreamed of taking his job when he retired,” Marriott said. “I ended up doing just that, only at a different school.”
Marriott said the most rewarding part of her Meadowdale High School career was working alongside student leadership to create activities that brought the school together. She also deeply appreciated the connections she made with the students by simply talking with them.
“Leadership lesson number two in my curriculum is: ‘Do the big things because they are fun, but do the little things because you care,’” Marriott said. “Opening doors at the start of the school day is a little thing that can really help a student have a positive start to their day. Sitting with students at lunch and hearing about their weekend can bring you closer to understanding what motivates them.”
Marriott said the toughest part about her job has been the financial stress placed on the school. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Meadowdale has not been able to host fundraisers. This has greatly inhibited the activities the school has been able to offer the students, because the funds just aren’t there.
“Money sources and restrictions have placed a burden on our schools,” Marriott said. “And we have so many things we would like to do for our students. We are concerned that we will have trouble hosting a prom for our senior students [this year] because they have been unable to fundraise for the past two years.”
The award comes as Marriott plans to retire at the end of August. Although her retirement is bittersweet, Marriott said she is looking ahead with that same “life is rainbows and unicorns,” quote in her mind.
“I look forward to spending time with the two most important men in my life,” she said. “My grandson Philip [who is eight months old] and my husband and ‘assistant [athletic director]’ Dave Marriott, who has been by my side for 39 years.”
Marriott said she and her husband are planning a road trip along Route 66 to see parts of the U.S. they have been dreaming of visiting for years. The couple purchased a motorhome just before the pandemic began, and they’re thrilled to start using it to connect with other travelers on the road.
“There is nothing better than pulling up to a campsite, getting a fire started and hearing the adventures of those around you,” Marriott said. “The opportunity to connect with strangers while sharing adventures is something we both treasure. People are fascinating and hearing about other’s life experiences is one way to bring a positive light to the world.”
However exciting her future plans are, Marriott said she will always treasure the connections she made at Meadowdale High School.
“I will miss the relationships,” she said. “The people I work with are incredible. These are not people who wanted their ‘summers off.’ The teachers … genuinely care about the education our kids are getting.”
Marriott said her induction has left her feeling like she has truly been successful in the work she has been so passionate about since she was a teenager.
“I have always felt that the awards you are given in high school are great, but that was 40 years ago for me,” she said. “I challenge myself to ask, ‘What have you done lately?’ Now I feel as though I can leave having accomplished something.”
— By Lauren Reichenbach