Graduating from the School of Hard Knocks: Despite setbacks, Central Kitsap seniors beat the odds and will graduate.

clockwise from top: Bethany Garcia, Richard Shields, Jessica Kennedy, Li Kang Liao - Christopher Carter/staff photo
clockwise from top: Bethany Garcia, Richard Shields, Jessica Kennedy, Li Kang Liao
— image credit: Christopher Carter/staff photo

For some, the high school diploma is a blip.

It’s the milepost to reach before going off to college, joining the military, finding a job, highlighted by prom, after-school activities and worrying about acne and if he or she really really likes me.

But for some students, it’s more than a piece of paper.

It’s a monumental achievement, earned in spite of illness, abuse, neglect, homelessness and violence.

The diploma isn’t just a brass ring to these students. It didn’t come easily. It’s a symbol of their perseverance, of their ability to withstand the worst life can throw at them.

In this special feature, the writers at the Central Kitsap Reporter share the stories of students from Bremerton and Central Kitsap who beat the odds.

Cathy survived when her doctor didn’t know if she would

Li Kang had to do it by himself

Jessica had to find her own way

Bethany lived through more foster homes than she could remember

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