West Richland bucket list devotee to graduate

WEST RICHLAND -- Liz Evett has done more in five months than many do in a lifetime.

Working down her "bucket list" -- a list of things she wants to do before she dies -- the West Richland 18-year-old has eaten at a five-star restaurant, gotten a private tour of the Space Needle and met TV's Food Network personality Mary Alice Yeskey, of Baltimore's Charm City Cakes.

But Evett, who was diagnosed with leukemia three years ago and relapsed in April, has one thing on her list that her declining health might not allow her to check off -- to graduate from high school.

Evett stopped responding to chemotherapy in June and was given weeks to months to live.

It looks like she has little time left, said her mother, Angie Ivey, and graduating with the rest of Hanford High's senior class is months away.

Evett has been too sick lately to go to school, and mentioned to Hanford High staff that she would like to visit her friends and teachers.

"She said, 'I want to come say hello to everybody,' " said Tory Christensen, Evett's school counselor. "Not 'I want to say good-bye to everybody.' "

He suggested getting her friends and teachers together. Or, better yet, having a graduation ceremony for her.

Evett will receive an honorary diploma at a special ceremony Wednesday at the high school.

"It's really important for the staff and her friends and family to see her accomplish this," said Hanford High principal Ken Gosney. "We really respect her grace and courage."

Past and present school staff say Evett has set an example, and they have learned as much from her as she has learned from them as educators.

"Hanford has been there for Liz, and Liz has been there for Hanford," said Todd Baddley, Evett's former high school and elementary school principal and current executive director of student services at the Richland School District.

"It will be wonderful to see her walk across the stage."

* On the Net: www.thestatus.com and follow the "Visit a Patient Page" link. Last name is "Evett" and password is "dolph1ns."