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Graduations 2004: East and West Alternative Highs

There were tears, hugs and an overall feel of accomplishment as alternative school seniors turned graduates got their hard-earned diplomas.

“It’s the greatest feeling ever,” said Courtney Kennedy, 17, who is expecting her second child in August. She plans to enroll at Olympic College in the fall of 2005.

About 95 students graduated Thursday during an afternoon ceremony at the President’s Hall. Not all attended the event, but they were celebrated nonetheless.

“We’re in awe of them as they move on to a new phase in their lives,” said Bruce Richardson, Westside Alternative School principal.

“It’s awesome I finally did it,” Katelyn McKinley said. McKinley said she voluntarily chose to go into the alternative program. While at the Westside school she helped organize “Beautiful Weeds,” an art project inspired by an insult.

“The project was to prove that we are not bad, just different and that every individual person was important — not just the high school’s trash,” she said to her classmates.

McKinley chose to speak to her class during the ceremony.

“The alternative school didn’t make me fit a mold, but encouraged me to mold myself,” she said.

McKinley plans to take a year off then pursue an art education and possibly have a glass-blowing studio in Arizona.

The graduates also heard from alumna Maggie Lind, who said an alternative education saved her life.

She entered the alternative program after she attempted suicide as a freshman at Fairview Junior High.

“Life hurt, it sucked. It even hurt to breathe sometimes,” she said. But with the support of students and staff she learned to cope with the pain. She graduated six months pregnant, married the baby’s father, went to technical school and became a certified nursing assistant.

Scholarships also were awarded during the hour-long ceremony.

Heather Kelso received scholarships from the Central Kitsap Education Association and the Central Kitsap Education Support Professionals; Kendall Williams, Erica Reitan and Kimberly Scoggins received alternative program scholarships; Joshua Will received the Gabe Reeve scholarship; Marquasha Gipson and Lindsey Jenkins received Olympic College scholarships and Scoggins received the Bill Wiseman scholarship from the Silverdale Dandy Lions.

Don Baker, a 14-year member of the alternative education staff who is retiring, also was honored.

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