Two 18-year-old cousins are living their long-held dream of spending their senior year together and graduating from Coupeville High School.
Just a month apart in age, cousins Cheyenne Yocham and Theresa Lee have been best friends their entire lives. Yocham is the youngest daughter of Shannan and Ted Neitzel, of Colville, Wash. Shannan is the sister of Theresa Lee’s father, Michael Lee, of Oak Harbor.
Theresa, youngest child of Michael and Elaine Lee, moved to Whidbey Island with her parents three years ago. The family wanted to be close to her older sister Katherine Tobbler, whose husband is stationed at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.
Cheyenne, who longed for adventure outside of small town Eastern Washington, came at the end of last summer to live with Katherine Tobbler and help with Tobbler’s two young children.
“It was a positive move for me. I love living here and helping with the little kids,” said Yocham, adding she believes her nanny experience will help her in the future.
Yocham and Lee commute together to Coupeville High School from Oak Harbor.
Both were members of the cheerleading squad this year, and Lee has been a cheerleader since arriving her sophomore year.
The two girls put their cheerleading skills to one final test when they created a flash mob dance to ask dates to the upcoming CHS prom. On April 17, at lunch time in the Commons, a boom box played the Bruno Mars song “Locked out of Heaven” while four girls, including Lee, Yocham, Jai-Lisa Hoskins and Nicole Becker, performed an original hip hop dance which culminated in an invitation to two brothers to attend the prom.
The young men were surprised, and both answered “yes.”
Yocham captured the action on her cell phone.
“It’s definitely something we’ll be remembered for,” said Lee. “Everybody complimented us on the routine.”
Yocham, who is a hip hop dancer and aspires to a career in choreography, created the dance for the flash mob. ‘
“I’m passionate about dance,” said Yocham.
For her senior project, Yocham spent time with Sunday school preschoolers teaching them to dance.
Lee and Yocham have also created a dance for the Holland Happening Parade in Oak Harbor.
Lee aspires to be a psychologist, and hopes to eventually get a PhD. However, both young women expect to work for a while before going to college.
“We’re planning to move to the Tri-Cities together after we graduate,” said Lee. “We want to get an apartment together and get jobs to save up for school.”
Lee expects to attend Columbia Basin College and work next year. She also wants to write novels, an aspiration helped along by CHS English teacher Barbara Ballard.
“Mrs. Ballard really has a passion for what she’s teaching,” said Lee.
“I really love English class, “said Yocham.
Since they were small, the two cousins planned to live together one day.
Nicknamed YaYa and T.T. by the family after their childhood names for each other, the two have spent vacations together, wrote, called and texted over the years. When the chance came to spend senior year together at Coupeville High School, Yocham jumped at it.
“I wanted something new, and moving here was like a new beginning in my life,” said Yocham.
“We’ve always dreamt of doing our senior year together. We’ve been planning this since we were little kids,” said Lee. “When we look back, I think we’ll remember this as our best year.”