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Central Kitsap alt. school students get ready for 'real world'

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Rocky or smooth, 121 Eastside and Westside Alternative High School students successfully traveled the path to graduation.

And the trek culminated June 13 with a commencement ceremony in the President’s Hall at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.

While most sported slacks or skirts rather than mortarboards and gowns, Friday’s grads broke no tradition in beaming at the prospect of launching into “real life.”

“It’s all over, (I) finally have a chance to go out in the real world,” said graduate Curtis Ruffin, who one day hopes to become a medic.

“The staff here, they are very loving,” he said. “All these people are like my family.”

Also a tradition, every year one past Eastside or Westside graduate returns to bid the outgoing class farewell. Lynn Dawson, who graduated from the Alternative schools 10 years ago, was selected to speak to the Class of 2008.

Now married, a mother and the events manager at Admiral Theatre, Dawson reflected on her turbulent adolescent years to illustrate how any person can achieve success.

After faltering with family, friends and her grades in and before high school, Dawson chose the Alternative route.

“I became determined to turn things around,” she explained. “In this case, change was exactly what I needed.”

Hands-on teaching, small class sizes and fewer cliques made the alternative school an easy fit, Dawson said, adding that overcoming tribulations made her success feel that much greater.

“Always look forward into the future,” she said.

Eastside Coordinator Robin Campbell and Westside Coordinator Bruce Richardson handed out a series of senior awards, including college scholarships.

Ashley Mayes (Eastside) and Tory Chapel (Westside) received one-year tuition waivers to Olympic College, Nikki Randall (Eastside) landed a $1,500 scholarship to the college of her choice and Jessica David and Zachary Chandler, both of Westside, earned $1,000 scholarships.

Westside’s Ruffin, Tia Petitt, Karen Sosa and Jorgen Burt all earned various accolades, as did Terry Sanders and Lindzey Lien of Eastside.

Current grad Elizabeth Larsen, who attended Alternative Westside High School, also spoke Friday. She encouraged her classmates to apply momentum from graduating toward post-secondary aspirations.

“The goals we have dreamed of are now a reality,” she said. “We all attended the alternative school(s) for different reasons, but we all succeeded.

Just because we are done (with high school) doesn’t mean we can stop now.”

After Larsen’s speech, Richard Arena, principal of Alternative Programs, gave the 2008 Alternative grads one final send-off.

“In order to succeed you must be willing to fail,” he said. “Pursue your dreams. Dreams are more powerful than reality.”

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