Kitsap seniors take alternative routes to success

Lindzey Lien, a senior at Eastside Alternative School, is looking forward to a future as a marine biologist.  - Wesley Remmer/staff photo
Lindzey Lien, a senior at Eastside Alternative School, is looking forward to a future as a marine biologist.
— image credit: Wesley Remmer/staff photo

Walking the halls of Eastside and Westside Alternative schools, you’ll find hands-on teachers working alongside students eager to learn. Two of those students, both seniors — Eastside’s Lindzey Lien and Westside’s Tory Chapel —?model the alternative school mission: To provide a comfortable learning environment free of social strain, while offering one-on-one teaching to help students excel.

A musician, aspiring marine biologist and working girl all in one, Lien is a Kitsap County native.

Bouncing around schools, attending Kitsap Lake Elementary, Silverdale Elementary, Ridgetop Junior High, Central Kitsap Junior High and Olympic High, Lien found her groove as a sophomore, transferring into Eastside.

“Once I got to Eastside I started to like school,” she said. “It’s been a really good experience.

“It’s really nice to go at your own (working) pace. And I’ve met a lot of nice people.”

Discovering a love for marine life while attending Ridgetop, Lien said she hopes one day to explore the Great Barrier Reef.

“I was just kind of exploring different elective classes,” she said of finding marine biology. “There are so many job you can do as a marine biologist.”

Lien said snorkeling vacations to Hawaii have further sparked her marine interest.

“It’s so amazing,” she said. “There are so many creatures and life, it’s just really cool.”

But Lien’s interests don’t stop at the ocean; she’s open to the possibility of becoming a music producer. A fan of what she calls “folk rock,” Lien enjoys the music of Brand New, Death Cab for Cutie and Honorary Title.

“If you listen to the lyrics they are really inspiring,” she said. “The music is easy to listen to.”

A reflection of her easy-going personality, Lien’s passion for music resonates with her at school.

“I try to be nice, to be carefree,” she said. “I like to get along with everybody.”

Eastside student coordinator Robin Campbell praised Lien for her ability to coalesce at Eastside, blending in with her peers and finding success in the classroom.

“She’s just been a breath of fresh air,” Campbell said. “She’s had strong goals from the beginning. She has really come out of her shell in terms of academics.”

As graduation nears, the prospect of leaving Kitsap County intrigues Lien, who hopes to attend either Western Washington University or Whatcom Community College.

“I want to move to Bellingham,” she said. “That’s my favorite place (in Washington).”

Until then, however, Lien said she will continue to spend time with friends and work with children as a babysitter at Silver Ridge Elementary School, a job she said has helped her become patient.

“They (the kids) are in the stage of their life when they don’t want to listen to anybody,” she joked, explaining she works with children ages kindergarten to sixth grade. “They’ve taught me how to be more patient with people.”

And while Lien represents success at Eastside, Chapel does the same at Westside.

She spends her days as a teaching assistant for teacher Lindi Zuber, while excelling in reading, writing and science.

“My favorite subject is science,” Chapel said of her classroom preference. “It’s easy for me to understand, it’s interesting and not repetitive.”

Chapel first arrived in Kitsap County as an 8-year-old, moving from Virginia Beach, Va. First a Jackson Park resident, she settled in Silverdale at 9 and has stayed ever since.

After hopping around schools she found Westside, developing close relationships with teachers, especially Zuber.

“She’s just an amazing girl,” Zuber said of Chapel. “She’s as sweet as can be. When she’s asked to do something she steps up to the plate.”

Balancing classwork with teaching-assistant duties, Chapel prefers to be workmanlike rather than in the limelight.

“What comes to mind is she’s very humble,” student advisor Silvery Brown said. “She has a 4.0 (grade point average) and you’d never know it.”

With a 4.0 grade point average, Chapel figures to have plenty of college options, if that’s the path she chooses.

“I’d like to be a librarian,” she said, explaining that the University of Washington is the only in-state campus to offer a library science major, the route she hopes to take.

“Like most people, the weather bothers me,” she said of sticking around Puget Sound. “I think I’d like to have more options than (UW).”

Excelling in the classroom, Chapel praised her Westide teachers for helping her succeed.

“The teachers are great,” she said. “They are personable and approachable.”

Also a fan of soap operas and reading and writing fantasy, Chapel said Westside has helped her find a niche in — and out — of the classroom.

“(Sometimes) people don’t understand alternative schools,” she explained. “It’s not like other schools where you go in for one subject, are done with it and leave. Since there are less students, you get more one-on-one time (with the teachers).”

Principal Richard Arena echoed Chapel’s sentiment.

“We have a lower number of students, a lower student-teacher ratio,” he said, “and because of that, (the teachers) help the kids and answer their questions. They develop that personal relationship.”

For both Chapel and Lien, the alternative schools have proved a perfect fit.

As the principal at both schools, Arena is proud to call Chapel and Lien his students and soon-to-be graduates.

“They are both great girls,” he said.

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