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Eddings speaks at former Eagle’s nest

Klahowya senior Katherine Freedman, with Megan Friedel, hands a plaque to Miss Washington and KSS alumna Kristen Eddings. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Klahowya senior Katherine Freedman, with Megan Friedel, hands a plaque to Miss Washington and KSS alumna Kristen Eddings.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

After spreading her wings and traveling the nation as Miss Washington, Kristen Eddings landed at Klahowya Secondary School, her alma mater, to bestow words of wisdom to her fellow Eagles.

“The reason I am here today, is to encourage you,” Eddings told the KSS student body on Monday. “No matter what your background is, you can do whatever you want with your life.”

A 2002 KSS grad, Eddings said she was glad to be back in the halls of the school and told students the time they spend in high school is some of the most important times in forming who they are, and who they want to be.

“As I walked through these doors, I thought ‘Holy cow, I spent five years here,’” Eddings told the students with a laugh. “It was such an important part of my life.”

Reigning as Miss Kitsap in 2006 and Miss Washington, Eddings said she wanted to be a Broadway star when she was in school. While at KSS, Eddings was involved in multiple clubs such as the Key Club, drama, choir and was the executive president of the Associated Student Body.

“I got involved in everything under the sun except sports, which I regret,” Eddings told students, adding that her over-involvement in extra-curricular activities caused her grades to drop significantly. “I was on academic probation my sophomore year.”

However, Eddings told students during her junior year, she cut out a lot of activities so she could focus only on her grades. She came back her senior year and was awarded the KSS Female Student of the Year.

Eddings also talked about her experience at college, and how all students should attend, regardless of their background.

“College rules, it is so much fun. It’s really hard work, but it’s a lot of fun,” Eddings said with a smile. “Take advantage of your education. The best gift the (United States) has given you is your education. Everyone is capable of being a college graduate and being successful.”

She went on to tell students they can be anything they want to be, whether it’s Miss Washington or a good parent, she encouraged them all to set big goals, explaining that they will develop while trying to reach those goals, and to travel the world, either through an exchange program or for fun. Eddings described her travels as Miss Washington to the students, including her trip to help impoverished children in India and her recent trip to Japan.

“It’s inspirational, and makes you think you can do things from a small school,” said Mailee All, a freshman at the school. “She makes it seem like more of a realistic goal.”

Jackie Levenseller, KSS music teacher and one of Eddings’ former teachers, said she always noticed the impact that Eddings had when she entered a room and on the individuals around her.

“She is just a great example of what you can do,” Levenseller said with a smile. “It really validates to students that you can, even from Seabeck, make a difference.”

Levenseller added that Eddings is one of those people who is not going to fizzle out, she is a presence that is here to stay.

After encouraging students to fulfill their dreams, Eddings then told her fellow Eagles to be encouraged in everything they do, and take pride in who they are. She detailed her experience at Miss America, and how she is a better person because of it. Eddings then sang “For Once in My Life” by Stevie Wonder for the student body, which is the same song she sang at the Miss Washington and Miss America competitions.

“When I wasn’t called into the top five, I walked off the stage with my head high because in no way did that determine my worth,” Eddings told students of her Miss America experience. “Be encouraged and know that life is a lot of fun, especially if you get an education.”

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