Keeping record with Oly’s attendance lady

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Bonnie Sunkel has lived in Kitsap County her entire life. The seasoned Central Kitsap School District employee currently calls the Olympic High School attendance office home and monitors the whereabouts of the 1,200 Oly students. Sunkel and her husband, Cordell, raised two children and now enjoy spending time with their six grandchildren and great-granddaughter, all of whom also reside in Kitsap County.

The longtime Silverdale resident was nominated for Community Spotlight by a CK Reporter reader and we recently stopped in the OHS attendance office to chat with Sunkel about her family, career and memories of Kitsap County.

Question: How does it feel to be nominated for Community Spotlight?

Answer: I feel honored and I was just so surprised and like I said, there are many community members so much more deserving.

Q: Family?

A: My husband, Cordell. We’ve been married 43 years. Two grown children, a boy and a girl, six grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. All of them are still in the area, which is very nice.

Q: How long have you lived in Silverdale?

A: My husband was born in Silverdale at his home and I’ve been here since the sixth grade. My family moved from Bremerton and I graduated from Central Kitsap High School.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of Silverdale?

A: Its small town atmosphere, which is changing rapidly as time goes on.

Q: What is your first memory of Silverdale?

A: Just being able to ride my bike to the grocery store — of course it was much safer then. My husband played on the beach in Silverdale.

Q: How long have you worked at Olympic High School?

A: I think it was 2000 when I came to Olympic. I was at Fairview, Central Kitsap High, Central Kitsap Junior High. I’ve been in the district for 30 years. I’ll probably retire at Olympic. It’s been interesting working all those different positions. I was registrar and the counselors’ secretary for years. I’ve been secretary to the dean of instruction and I’ve done bookkeeping.

Q: What do you like best about working at Olympic High School?

A: I have enjoyed all the schools I’ve worked at — each is special. I like being at the high school level again. In this particular position I have daily, individual contact with many, many students and parents. I know them and they know me and know they can trust me to help them, in good or bad situations.

Q: Is there anything you dislike about your job at Olympic?

A: Besides the constant demand of the job, it’s hard to see conflict between parents and students.

Q: What is the strangest excuse for absences or being tardy you’ve ever heard?

A: Oh gosh, there’s been so many I could write a book. Say I have a parent calling and I know it’s not their voice, that’s funny. One of the kids called me to excuse himself and the parent came in to get him and the kid wasn’t here. There was one where the kids were late because they locked their keys in the car and it was running. I got one note of absence that was on a large piece of cardboard because the kid’s mom thought she would lose it.

Q: Do you have a favorite hobby?

A: I like to read. I especially like nonfiction, history and poetry. I like Lincoln, he is one of my favorite historical people and I like “Gone with the Wind.” I like to read quotes. I have a couple in my room here like “If we don’t learn from our mistakes - There’s no use making them” — Carl Scharpf.

Q: What is the biggest change you’ve seen since you’ve been in Silverdale?

A: I think the increase in population and the traffic. We (my husband and I) can remember when there were no stoplights in Silverdale and thinking “why are they putting that there?”

Q: What would you like to see change in Silverdale?

A: I wish there was a place where they could start archiving things for Silverdale. The community center — Silverdale needs a focal point and center point. It used to be Bogard’s drug store. There’s no central connecting place, no central point.

Q: What is your favorite movie?

A: I like all the classics, “Gone with the Wind,” Ben Hur, Charlton Heston movies. I like to watch the TCM channel because it’s all good classic movies.

Q: Who would play you in a movie of your life and why?

A: A couple people have told me that I look like Sally Field and that’s who I should be. Or, she plays tennis, Billie Jean King. I’d prefer Sally Field.

Q: What’s your favorite local event to participate in?

A: Well, I have so many and it has changed over the years. Whaling Days is still a big Silverdale thing — my husband is one of the ones who helped start Whaling Days. It used to be so rainy, it used to be in August but they changed it to July.

Q: Are you for or against Silverdale incorporation?

A: Let me put it this way — there is a time and place for everything. I don’t think it’s the time, but there will be a place for it. It’s inevitable, it’s going to happen. I think caution is important — we need to move forward cautiously and with wisdom.

Q: What is one thing you want to try in your lifetime?

A: I’d like to be on a riverboat in the Mississippi River — visit back east, down south. My husband used to drive stock cars and I already tried that.

Q: What is it about Kitsap County that keeps you and your family here?

A: My husband was born here. Our kids and grandkids are here so we won’t leave them. We’ve been able to enjoy our grandchildren so much. I also think the weather here isn’t too bad. It’s not too hot, not too cold, but I think the climate is pretty mild. It’s a great community to live in with wonderful people.

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