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PAL program graduates 27

 - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

POULSBO — When graduation keynote speaker Chris Wendelyn instructed the Parent Assisted Learning program class of 2007 to turn its tassles from the right to left side at approximately 7:30 p.m., it became official.

They had done it, at that moment they became alumni.

A rousing round of applause followed as PAL program graduates meandered down from the stage with flowers in hand and made their way through the crowd to embrace their family members and friends.

“Nights like these remind me of why I got into this business in the first place,” Wendelyn said after the ceremony. “It’s all about seeing these young people grow and reach a milestone in life.”

PAL program advisors Bob Dash, Carol Hutto, Judy Schwampe and George Ramsey had the privilege of introducing individual students during the ceremony, offering a few words about each of them to a packed house at the North Kitsap Auditorium.

“We know our students so well,” Hutto said. “We know exactly what to say about each one of them.”

Hutto, who’s been an advisor at PAL for the past 10 years, said the program gives students the individual attention they sometimes need.

“We have such a connection with our students. We meet one-on-one with our students all the time,” she said. “It’s one of the things students miss in a large school, but something they get at PAL. Kids need good role models around them. I think that it’s important.”

Wendelyn said individual recognition of graduates has been a tradition at PAL as well as Spectrum graduations for years.

During the student reflections portion of commencement, PAL graduate Robert Kilcullen stood in front of his classmates and delivered a message to the audience.

“The PAL program has helped me understand personal achievement and strength,” he said. “Thank you to all of you.”

Graduate Jonathan Nyhus was all smiles following the ceremony. As a sophomore, he attended NKHS but made the switch to the PAL program two years ago.

“I really liked the one-on-one individual attention I received the last two years,” he said. “The program is about individuality. You can work at your own pace. It was great.”

Nyhus credited PAL counselor Bob Dash for getting him where he is today.

“He pushed me and helped me in every way possible,” he said. “It’s amazing. It feels great to get it done.”

Rachel Stice attended North Kitsap High School for her first two years of high school before making the move to the PAL program in her senior year. Stice said she is glad she made the switch.

“You’re able to get all of your work done without having to sit in class all day,” she said. “There’s more freedom with PAL.”

Stice needed that freedom considering she recently gave birth to her daughter, Cadence, in March.

“Sometimes it was hard to meet with my advisor (Carol Hutto) on a regular basis, but we e-mailed back and forth and I was still able to get all of my work done,” she said. “It’s a great feeling.”

PAL graduates included Justin Andrew, Stefanie Blythe, Andrew Dailey, Alex DeLaurenti, Caitlin Elhardt, Thomas Gass, Michael Gilman, John-Paul Gotawka, Blake Herr, Katelyn Kane, Jacob Kaposting, Robert Kilcullen, Jerry Logue, Brian Lovely, Kerri Loyd, Sarah McKnight, Jonathan Nyhus, Kathleen Olson, Nina Perl, Lance Phillips, Kori Planck, Karyn Prouty, Lee Rapp, Leah Smith, Rachel Stice, Mat Williams and Tamer Wilkins.

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