Nico Winegar was born in Littleton, Colorado, but since his family moved to Port Townsend six months later, the 18-year-old graduating senior at Port Townsend High School considers himself born and …
Nico Winegar was born in Littleton, Colorado, but since his family moved to Port Townsend six months later, the 18-year-old graduating senior at Port Townsend High School considers himself born and raised in PT.
Winegar is heading off to Pacific University in the fall, to play football and study finance.
However, his impending departure leaves him a bit melancholy about losing relationships he’s been building since kindergarten here.
“It’s so inclusive here,” Winegar said of PTHS. “No one feels left out. Everyone knows each other. Even if we don’t hang out, we still talk.”
Winegar wound up leaning on that support network more than he expected this school year, when his father, former Port Townsend reserve police officer Jerome David Winegar, died of a heart attack at his home Dec. 22.
“It’s been tough, especially these last couple of months,” Winegar said. “But I’ve felt supported by the school’s staff and students. They’re an amazing group, and they’ve helped a lot.”
Rather than making Winegar’s hectic graduation schedule feel more stressful, the death of his father has motivated him to redouble his studies, to keep his mind occupied.
“I’ve been staying busy and getting involved,” Winegar said. “Instead of just sitting at home, I’ve been doing as much homework as possible, and doing more weights and sports, from football and basketball to soccer.”
He added: “You’d think I’d want to drop everything, but I don’t want to get off track.”
Winegar admitted that one of the rougher aspects of graduation has been his father’s absence, right around the time he would have been supplying advice to his son for the future.
“Him not being here sucks,” Winegar said. “There was no way we expected this to happen, but I knew my dad would be proud of me, which was all I wanted, to make him as proud as possible.”
Port Townsend Police Chief Mike Evans told The Leader that he and his fellow officers attended the ceremonies because Winegar’s father couldn’t be there.
“We’re here in support of Nico, but we’re also here for all the kids,” Evans said. “This has been traumatic for Nico and his family, but also his friends.”
Evans described Winegar as “an amazing kid” and “a leader like his father.”
In addition to offering their support to Winegar and his classmates, Evans and his fellow officers wanted to wish the PTHS graduating class of 2019 congratulations and good luck in the future.
“It’s an honor for us to be here, even if it is unfortunately under sad circumstances,” Evans said.