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Catherine Ahl bids adieu to school board

POULSBO — Catherine Ahl got to do something on Dec. 13 with her husband she hadn’t done in a long time on a Thursday night—they went out to dinner. Her Thursday nights used to be booked solid attending North Kitsap School District board meetings. A long-time school board member, Ahl had never missed a meeting in her eight years on the board.

Ahl announced in May she wouldn’t seek another term on the board. Her tenure was a lively one, filled with passing levies and dealing with issues surrounding the opening of Kingston High School. Of all the decisions she made, one of the most memorable was directly tied to that school, she said.

When the school opened, attendance boundaries for North Kitsap High School had changed to accommodate the new school. The stumbling block came when the board had to decide whether the students who would be seniors at NKHS but moved to KHS could remain at NKHS to finish out their senior year instead.

A strong advocate for children and a rebel-rouser at heart, Ahl always yearned for students to attend school board meetings and speak their minds. In the senior class decision, these students showed up in droves.

“We heard from a lot of kids. They came and spoke to the school board. I loved it,” she said. In the end, it was decided that because of the renovations going on at NKHS, there simply wasn’t room to accommodate the entire senior class.

One of her most crowning achievements on the board is what made Kingston High School possible: assisting in the 2001 $60 million levy campaign.

Superintendent Gene Medina praised Ahl’s devotion to the children of North Kitsap and her dogged determination to get that levy passed.

“What you have to understand about the levy is that the work is basically done by 12 people and

Catherine,” he said during Ahl’s final farewell at her last board meeting.

It was on this campaign she befriended a rather outspoken lady by the name of Lael Stock, who’s now a proud NK parent.

The two met passing out informational fliers about the levy in the old Thriftway grocery store on Hostmark and State Highway 305. They bonded instantly and have become close friends over the years.

“She’s unusually level-headed and very thoughtful in her decision-making. She thinks through all sides,” Stock said of Ahl. “The biggest thing is that she’s a strong advocate for young adults and she works very hard to ensure they’re given the opportunity to learn.”

Now that she’s not on the school board, Ahl suspects she won’t fall far from her role as an advocate for youth. She took her appointment as the district’s legislative representative quite seriously. A teacher by trade and a Navy wife by choice, she’s lobbied for educational issues both at the state and federal level. Any state legislator that’s expecting Ahl not to take a trip to Olympia continue lobbying for education because she’s no longer a school board member is in for a rude awakening.

“I’ve already sent the look of dread in some public officials’ faces because I’ve reminded them that now that I’m not on the school board anymore, I’ll have more time to spend in Olympia reminding them what their paramount duty is,” Ahl said.

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