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Mainstream not the way for them — but diplomas are

Graduation speaker and Central Kitsap Alternative School Class of 2003 graduate Alan Onstad gives his graduation address as Eastside Alternative High School Coordinator Robin Campbell, left, Christopher Stokke (blocked by Onstad) and Christy Cathcart listen. Stokke and Cathcart are CK School Board members. - Photo by Rogerick Anas
Graduation speaker and Central Kitsap Alternative School Class of 2003 graduate Alan Onstad gives his graduation address as Eastside Alternative High School Coordinator Robin Campbell, left, Christopher Stokke (blocked by Onstad) and Christy Cathcart listen. Stokke and Cathcart are CK School Board members.
— image credit: Photo by Rogerick Anas

It’s not your father’s graduation.

It’s Central Kitsap Alternative Schools’ graduation. A fun-filled and very laid-back passage into the greater world by all those students who never went mainstream.

Not that this is a bad thing, cautioned Alternative School officials.

There were 100-plus non-traditional graduates Thursday.

“I had my first child when I was 16,” said alumni Kim Hanson, now of Nebraska. “Brittany was two-and-a-half years old when I graduated from CK Alternative School nine years ago. In 1997 I got my associate of science degree. Now I’m at the state college in Nebraska working toward my bachelor’s in education.”

In addition to being a continuing student, she and her husband have four children aged 11, 8, 4 and 2.

“You can accomplish many things in life by setting goals and working hard,” she declared to the grads and 200-plus friends and family present in the President’s Hall at Kitsap County Fairgrounds. “Life can be full of setbacks.... But if you keep a positive attitude, you’ll find this is just the beginning of an incredible future.”

Dominique Hughes, a current grad who’s graduating a year ahead, also spoke.

“I’ve been pondering what life has in store for us,” she said, advising that decisions can have long-term effects. “Everything we do now will effect our futures the way everything we’ve done has brought us to where we are now.”

She added that “I’m proud of the diversity we’ve had (in the Alternative School) because that’s the way the real world is.”

Grad Alan Onstad said when he arrived in Alternative School, “I realized it was the exact opposite of regular high school. No one ever told me to ‘Shut up!’ and I could educate myself at my own pace.... The staff is composed of the most reasonable and nicest people you’ll meet anywhere.”

Counselor at the Eastside Alternative, Joan Storkman, awarded a certificate of recognition to grad Maria Hanson. Alumni Barb Zawlocki awarded a scholarship to Onstad. Rick Bialock awarded the Cascade Recovery Scholarship to Rachel Beason. Darla Reeve Quick gave out three $500 scholarships to graduates in memory of her son, Gabe, who died several years ago. Recipients included Matt Major, Onstad and Melissa Zamzow.

There were also two Olympic College scholarships (one year, tuition-free), Lions Club scholarships and Alternative School (created in-house) scholarships.

Superintendent Cathy Davidson handed out the diplomas. Grads and guests enjoyed cake and refreshments after the ceremony, which began at 2 p.m. and lasted more than an hour.

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