Ocracoke School’s Class of 2020 graduation send off bottle found in Portugal

OCRACOKE, N.C. (WITN) -It is a graduation tradition that was discovered 3,647 miles across the world in Portugal.

“I read somewhere that if it gets found it’ll be either France, England, or Portugal,” said Charles Temple, Ocracoke School English Teacher. “I put instructions on how to contact me in English, France, and Portuguese. It was a pretty good guess actually.”

A few years ago, Temple wanted to create something special to send off the 2020 graduating senior class, all eight of them.

He came up with the idea of having students write messages on their class picture every year, then place them inside a bottle that would be thrown into the ocean. However, the 2020 graduating class stood out.

“The class of 2020, man they had a crazy ride,” Temple said.

In 2019, Hurricane Dorian made its way to the Outer Banks and devastated Ocracoke Island in the process. Then a few months later the pandemic came, ruining the class of 2020′s senior year.

The island was in shambles for an entire year, which Temple believes made the graduating class stronger.

“A lot of us had our houses flooded so they were watching people trying to tell them how to be resilient, be strong, problem solve, and all these life skills,” Temple said. “Having to put all of that to the test and into action.”

The recent discovery of the bottle is another memorable moment for the school and Temple.

In 2011, he was one of the first contestants on “Jeopardy” to compete in the Teachers Tournament and he says that moment like the bottle being found, are both important lessons for the students.

“It’s been fun to be able to show the kids that just because you live in a place that feels like it’s on the edge of the world, like it’s in the middle of nowhere, doesn’t mean you can’t compete with people in the quote on quote real world.”

Although the 2020 senior class was made of up only eight students, Temple says the woman finding their bottle in Portugal makes them unforgettable because they were the first class who’s were actually found.