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'Free at last'

"After a stormy day, the clouds parted and the sun shone early Friday evening.It was as if God were smiling on the 2000 graduating class of Klahowya Secondary School. The 163 new graduates picked up their diplomas and celebrated their accomplishment during commencement ceremonies at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds Pavilion June 9.The class of 2000 was the second to graduate from the school on Newberry Hill. But it holds the distinction of being the first class to spend all three high school years at Klahowya.But according to at least one graduation speaker, they didn't always want to be there.Jessica Starrett, who delivered the senior poem, acknowledged that as sophomores she and some of her classmates experienced a yearning to be back at CK (High School).Now that we are seniors, she added, this is our school.In that spirit, Starrett and other graduation speakers weren't afraid to laugh at their school.Several speakers took pokes at the school's less-than-stellar athletic tradition, although several also mentioned Klahowya's state 2A champion girls soccer team. Melani Deno, the class salutatorian, jokingly mentioned Klahowya's reputation as a hick school, as well as its difficult name.I remember when I first heard about the new school. I was in eight grade when Mr. Zuber called us the 'doin's.' As in Kla-how-ya-doin's, Deno said. Nobody could pronounce the name. Then again, nobody can now.But the school's name was not all that was fair game for the boisterous grads. The school's location and graduation gowns were also subjects of student humor.Senior speaker Noah Wecker quoted turn-of-the-century New York newspaper editor Horace Greeley, who said Go west, young man.We, the graduates of 2000 ... are west. We could not be any furter west, Wecker said.Class valedictorian Catharine Hoffman, meanwhile, cracked that their flowing green graduation gowns made them look like a cross between a judge and Kermit the frog.But though the witticisms kept the ceremony flowing, the graduates weren't there for a comedy routine. There were more important things to be done.Wecker might have captured the moment best. He closed his speech by proclaiming, We are free at last, we are free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last."

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