Alternative grads armed with strength

Marjorie Williams, a Hurricane Katrina survivor and Eastside graduate, gives Patti Haas a hug. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Marjorie Williams, a Hurricane Katrina survivor and Eastside graduate, gives Patti Haas a hug.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

Few were the mortarboards, fewer still the black gowns, but CK’s alternative high school graduates wore a sense of accomplishment over their button-up shirts and formal dresses.

Whether it was a need for extra help with English, taking care of a child or ailing relative, or struggling with their own restless youth, 101 students from Eastside and Westside alternative high schools overcame an array of personal challenges on the road to the diplomas they received Thursday.

Among the family and friends who filled the Presidents’ Hall at the Fairgrounds for the ceremony, sat a Central Kitsap Alternative School alumna.

Heather Lane Borggard, a 1993 graduate of the alternative program, before it was split into two schools, was one of the guest speakers at the ceremony. She recalled her own tumultuous youth and praised the staff and teachers of the alternative program for the amazing opportunities they gifted her.

“The doors are open to you now,” Borggard said in her address to the students. “You have so many more opportunities than you did before you came to this place.”

Borggard, who is married to another CK Alternative School graduate, Kurt Borggard, looks after her own business, Pages Books in Old Town Silverdale, and her 15-year-old son Byron, an eighth-grader at Central Kitsap Junior High School. She attributes her successes in life to her own graduation.

Chris Kurtz shared some words of wisdom for his fellow graduates. He was nervous about his speech, but the importance of his message overpowered the stage fright.

Kurtz recalled a day in the beginning of this school year when one of his teachers at Westside told him to get his act together or he would be kicked out of school.

“I decided then and there I wouldn’t become another statistic,” Kurtz said. “I decided to graduate.”

The recurring send-off message for the alternative high school graduates of 2006 was just that — anything is possible if you put your mind to it and follow through.

The message was not lost on 18-year-old Courtney Garrissey, mother of 4-year-old Amari. Courtney’s foster family, as well as her mother and two sisters, came to celebrate her graduation. And come fall, Courtney is off to Olympic College where she plans to study nursing.

“You have to be a hard worker, you have to be self-motivated or else you don’t get anything done,” she said.

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