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Planting their hopes

POULSBO — True to its arts-based nature, West Sound Academy’s new campus groundbreaking Sunday was not limited to just a ceremonial shoveling of spadefuls of dirt by local dignitaries.

While the 7-year-old college preparatory school did christen the land where a new $3 million campus off Highway 305 between Poulsbo and Suquamish is to be built, school officials were less interested in “shoveling” and more into “planting.”

The theme of the day, “The planting of our hopes and dreams,” was symbolically carried out by having participants of the event write those dreams on sunflower seed paper, which was then planted — using the traditional shovel approach — by the event’s dignitaries.

In any case, the day gave those associated with West Sound’s earliest years in its current rented location a reason to celebrate the start of the school’s permanent presence in the North End.

“This is a wonderful day for us,” said WSA Head of School Nellie Baker. “We’ve waited seven long years for this day.”

WSA Board of Trustees chair Eric Quitslund was quick to give kudos to the school’s founders, Ann and Edward Frodel. The Frodels, he said, wanted both to provide a choice for parents but also to create a school that engaged students in a way no school in Kitsap County ever had. They had a “build-first, and then they will come” attitude, Quitslund added, noting that judging by WSA’s enrollment of about 80 students, their gamble paid off.

“We’re going to build a home for that school,” Quitslund said, referring to the Frodels’ vision.

Baker added praise to the Frodels but remarked on a mission of her own for what she hopes the new campus will become.

“We dream of being an educational force in Poulsbo, Bainbridge and Kitsap County,” she said.

State Sen. Phil Rockefeller (D-Bainbridge Island) spoke about the need of having an educated citizenry equipped to deal with the problems of a “more interdependent world.” Private schools like WSA — which supplement state-run school districts — provide a thorough and engaging education where each individual student is a priority.

“No assembly line here, thank you,” he said, referring to one of the notorious pitfalls of large-scale public high schools.

“The education you receive here is the foundation for what you’ll be tomorrow,” Rockefeller added. “Congratulations to each and every one of you for helping this dream come true.”

Dignitaries at the event included Poulsbo City Councilman Jim Henry and Mayor Donna Jean Bruce, Bainbridge Mayor Darlene Kordonowy, Kitsap Commissioner Chris Endresen, Clarence Moriwaki — representing U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee — and Sen. Rockefeller.

The 20-acre parcel of land above the Northwest College of Art that WSA purchased is largely an open meadow of small, rolling hills abutted by thick forests on nearly all sides. Stakes connected with various colored tape provide a silhouette of where the future campus’ buildings will soon stand.

The facility will include seven general classrooms housed in four individual buildings. Also in the works are a dance studio, two science labs, a visual art studio, a drama room, computer lab, library and administration area. As an integrated curriculum is a part of WSA’s educational mission, several common areas for students and teachers to gather will also be included.

West Sound Academy has been renting a facility in Suquamish, near the downtown area, for the past seven years. The school acquired the new property in 1999, but through a deal with Norum Properties, sold it in an agreement that the real estate company would oversee the project of building the new school. Through Norum, Frontier Bank is loaning the funds for the project and Tim Ryan Construction will build the facility.

The new West Sound Academy’s grand opening is targeted for the start of the 2005-06 school year.

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