West Sound Academy is now a ‘world school’

West Sound Academy head of school Joe Kennedy begins instruction for his morning class on Jan. 26. - Kipp Robertson/ Staff photo
West Sound Academy head of school Joe Kennedy begins instruction for his morning class on Jan. 26.
— image credit: Kipp Robertson/ Staff photo

POULSBO — A program that began about 42 years ago recently reached the North Kitsap area.

West Sound Academy, an independent preparatory school in Poulsbo, was authorized Jan. 10 by the International Baccalaureate Organization to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma.

"It's a really established program," head of school Joe Kennedy said. "A student that goes through the program will be ready for college."

The program is set up as a two-year diploma for students entering their junior year in high school. Students are assessed in six areas of studies throughout the curriculum, taking all areas of study — from art to calculus. A senior thesis is required in order to graduate.

Though West Sound is the first school to offer the program in Kitsap, West Sound history teacher Laurence Kerr said it is not so uncommon throughout the rest of the world.

Kerr worked as a diplomat for the State Department for more than 20 years. His children were raised in foreign schools.

He said the program will help students synthesize information, instead of reiterate what they learn.

"(Students) learn these skills that will help in any field they decide to go into," he said.

Kerr travelled to Chicago, Ill. to receive training for the diploma program. He said what differentiated the program from a public school curriculum was the focus on encouraging students to take creative approaches to a problem, with less focus on memorization.

The program gives students the opportunity to earn college credit after completion of the program. Kennedy said students can earn up to 45 credits and enter college as a sophomore, which includes schools such as University of Washington.

West Sound currently has 97 students and is projected to have more than 100 next year, Kennedy said. Of those students, about 20 are international. With the addition of the new program, students from the area and abroad have the opportunity to be accepted into colleges outside the US, he said.

"It's so much fun having (international students) here," said Lisa Gsellman, a host of two students.

Gsellman began hosting international students last year, after a student need to find another host family. Since then, her and her husband have enjoyed the chance to host foreign students.

"Once people begin hosting students, they end up doing it again and again," she said.

As for the school, the new program may draw more international students as the school continues to expand.

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