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'Move forward confidently into the future'

POULSBO  – Kingston High School’s Class of 2012 may be remembered as much for its sense of humor as its accomplishments, the day as much for its variety as for pomp and circumstance.

As students took a class picture in the North Kitsap High School gym, families and friends took their seats in the stadium as a Sammy Davis Jr. tune, followed by the Beach Boys, followed by Smash Mouth, played over loudspeakers.

Then, on the field in front of the stadium seats, S’Klallam and Suquamish drummers and singers sang a love song in the original language of the peninsula. Then, the class entered, two by two, passing through a portal representing a buccaneer ship, many students making colorful entries that reflected their personalities. Muggy weather gave way to a cool breeze.

Several graduation caps were decorated. S’Klallam and Suquamish graduates wore hand-woven cedar graduation caps, each adorned with an eagle feather.

Principal Christy Cole talked about this year’s buzz about the Mayan calendar – misinterpretation of the calendar has led some doomsayers to believe Earth is due for a cataclysmic event on Dec. 21, 2012. Cole, however, believes the Mayan calendar merely predicts a transition from one age to another.

And so it is with graduation. “This is a time of transition from one age to another,” she said, advising graduates “to honor the past and move forward confidently into the future.”

The Class of 2012, all 225 graduates, seems prepared to do that. As Cole said, the boys basketball team placed third in the state tournament three years in a row. The girls tennis team was undefeated three years in a row. The band is well-respected and renowned. The drama program produces “spectacular musicals that take your breath away,” she said.

The commencement program told more. Five students graduated with Olympic College associate’s degrees through Running Start. Forty-eight were honor graduates, finishing with grade point averages of 3.5 or greater. Seventy-four graduates received a total of 219 awards and scholarships. Eighteen students ranked in the top 10 percent of Washington state high school graduates based on the combination of grade point average and scholastic achievement test, or SAT, scores.

And besides all that, Cole said, “They are nice … They are generous and fun loving and we will miss them very much.”

But on their big day, graduates showed they did not take themselves too seriously. During a musical interlude, beach balls bounced, bubbles floated in the breeze, and two students danced next to the band. Salutatorian Wade Doty, recipient of the Vince Prouty Scholarship, predicted that 20 years from now “we will be proud of our lives – and wonder why we took Spanish.”

Valedictorian Jacob Bruce, a National Merit Scholar and recipient of nine other awards and honors, quipped, “We are now in charge of our own lives – and our own laundry. I don’t know about the rest of you, but that scares the daylights out of me.” Then, in a serious look at values and materialism, he opined, “The measure of success is how we have changed the lives of others.”

After the ceremony, graduates met their families and friends for hugs and photos. There seemed to be relief that the school year was over.

Cody Combs said he’ll attend Washington State University come September; Ryan Lavalle will attend Olympic College. They both had the same answer when asked what their immediate plans were.

Sleep in.

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