Olympic College finally hitting the books at Poulsbo’s Olhava

POULSBO — Laminated text books squeak open for the first time, the sounds of welcomes by professors emerge from new classrooms and hot-off-the-press copies of class syllabi fly through the hallways under the arms of students: school is under way at Olympic College’s brand new Poulsbo campus.

The 39,000-square-foot school, which is located on land donated by the Olhava family more than 10 years ago, opened its doors Jan. 5. Built with donations, community support and a $12.9 million state grant, the college is the second satellite facility Olympic has built; the other is in Shelton.

For its inaugural winter quarter, the school is running at about one-third its capacity but will grow with each passing quarter to about 1,500 students. The facility will also house OC’s nursing school by fall 2004.

Kelly Woodward, director of the campus, said Monday that the first day was progressing much smoother than expected — all things considered.

“I have to say there wasn’t anything that hasn’t been anticipated,” Woodward said. “It’s just been remarkably smooth. We’ve also had a lot of support from our main (Bremerton) campus, a lot of people who’ve come up here to make sure things are going smoothly.”

Many of OC Poulsbo’s first students, whether they chose to take courses due to the location of the facility or simply needed a course that was offered there, said they were impressed by the facility.

“The technology is a lot more advanced here,” said John Williams, a veterinary science major in his third quarter at Olympic. “We’ve been able to do a lot more telecommunications.”

Williams said classes he’s taking can be taught from either Bremerton or Poulsbo by using teleconferencing equipment, the teacher can “broadcast” to either school.

He also said he was happy about a shorter commute: Williams, a Bainbridge Islander, has less distance to go for schooling.

Williams did find the drive to the campus “annoying,” though. The college sent each student a map in the mail to ease the commute. Construction on the road’s infrastructure to the site directly west of State Route 3 has not been completed; a detour north that also travels “off the beaten path” — through unpaved roads — is being used.

Though Williams said he’d prefer to take courses only at the Poulsbo campus, the breadth of offerings is still rather small.

“There’s not a lot of classes being offered here right now,” he said. “But I assume they’ll provide more classes in the future.”

Amber Knapp of Silverdale has been taking business courses through Olympic College for a year. She said she believes her commute to Poulsbo is about the same distance but without the new campus, she would not have been able to enroll in a course she needed.

“The class (at Bremerton) was full,” she said.

Laura Ryan of Poulsbo has been taking theater courses at the college and said the campus will offer all courses she needs to complete her degree.

“It’s so nice that it’s closer,” Ryan said. “And also it’s something that is new and fresh.”

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