Teachers draw praise at Alternative High graduation

"It was all about the teachers at the Central Kitsap Alternative High School commencement Monday afternoon at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds President's Hall.Every graduate who spoke thanked the staff and faculty of the Alternative High School and said they could not have done it without teachers' support.It felt good, said Carla James, a counselor at the Alternative High School. You can't do this work without loving these kids.When graduating seniors Rachelle and Antoinette Papillon sang I Will Remember You for their class, they asked all the teachers to stand and be recognized. Both senior speakers overcame stage fright to recognize their teachers as primary reasons they got through school.Also praising the teachers was class of 1994 Alternative High graduate Tarra Lewis, returned to her alma mater to tell the class of 2000 about her own success and the opportunity for the class of 2000 to have its own. Lewis had a child as a teen and came close to dropping out of high school.Lewis recently earned a nursing degree. She offered to personally help anyone who needed information about financial aid for education.If that's the only thing in your way, call me, Lewis said to the crowd.Graduates were also quick to thank their families for all their support. Parents, spouses and children of the graduates were there for the last couple steps the graduates took towards earning their diplomas.It's really neat because it has been a long road, said Erik Pheasant, whose daughter Jennifer Donahue received a couple of scholarships during the ceremony. It's a closure and it's a success.Parents and family members said the key to success at the Alternative High School is a lot of love, discipline and patience. Susan Vann, who came to see her daughter Taci Morris graduate, affirmed that parenting in the sometimes turbulent adolescent years requires a lot of persistence.It's taken a long time, but she's done it, Vann said. She added that parents should hang in there and give them all the support they need. The graduation capped off a long haul for the Alternative High School grads, who embraced the families and friends crammed the small hall at the Fairgrounds. Paul Mason, who had his daughter and fiancé in tow, said the feeling of graduation and family together was one that made him feel like he was unstoppable.It's great for my self-esteem, Mason said. I feel like I can do anything."

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