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Klahowya graduation parts longtime classmates

Klahowya Secondary School seniors rejoice after graduation June 13 at the Pavilion at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds. - Wesley Remmer/staff photo
Klahowya Secondary School seniors rejoice after graduation June 13 at the Pavilion at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.
— image credit: Wesley Remmer/staff photo

Balloons, flowers, flash photos, hugs, handshakes and a sea of green made for quite a scene June 13 outside the Pavilion at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.

Not only was it Friday the 13th, but 157 Eagles flew to new heights, graduating as the KSS Class of 2008.

Unique in its 7-12 grade structure, many Klahowya students parted ways Friday with the school they’ve called theirs for the past six years.

Together, the KSS Class of 2008 endured revamped WASL requirements, senior culminating projects and the High School and Beyond plan, among others, to graduate.

“Together we became the experiment that would complete the WASL and culminating project,” valedictorian Jessica Wilson said.

In her valedictorian address, Wilson discussed the achievements of her classmates — 70 percent of whom have been at Klahowya since seventh grade — and encouraged the Class of 2008 to pursue its dreams.

“The question isn’t whether we’re ready for the world, but is the world ready for the Class of 2008?” she said. “We are filling in the blank of, ‘who do you want to be when you grow up?’”

Salutatorian Nicole Strep followed Wilson’s words with a few of her own.

“Each journey was unique, but we all share one thing: Each of us has met at least one person who has influenced us along the way,” she said. “I hope everyone has at least one friend you can call the brother or sister you never had, or the brother or sister you had a little say in choosing.”

Strep encouraged her classmates to value family, friends and teachers, the three “types” of people who are most influential in a student’s life.

“When someone is trying to teach you something, let them,” she said. “Make connections.”

Personal connections, Strep said, is what life is all about.

“The most important (lesson) I learned in six years at (KSS) is to take the time to get to know someone,” she said. “People make things memorable.”

After Wilson and Strep spoke, fellow graduates Carl Neumann and Nicole Parker performed a Stephen Schwartz arrangement of “When you Believe” with Parker on vocals and Neumann on piano.

The KSS choir performed, too, before staff speaker Sharon Alder and principal Ryan Stevens took the podium respectively.

Alder offered four pieces of life advice; to always say “thank you,” to always say “please,” to “go for it” and to never quit. By following those simple principles, she said, “Class of 2008, you are my job well done.”

Before the diplomas were conferred, Stevens listed accomplishments of the Class of 2008 that set it apart from others.

He noted the $1.9 million in scholarship money awarded to the class, 55 students graduating with honors, 19 Eagle Scholars and the 195 AP exams the class combined to take as distinguishing accomplishments of the ’08 grads.

“I can honestly say that you’re the most entertaining graduating class (I’ve been around),” he said. “No one can predict what the future holds for you.”

After the diplomas were conferred, the party began.

Students tossed carnations, paraded outside and enjoyed their last minutes together as classmates. And for a short time, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words — the class motto — fit the scene.

“I used to always think I’d look back on us crying and laugh, but I never thought I’d look back on us laughing and cry.”

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