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North’s grads plot future course

POULSBO — North Kitsap High School seniors Meagan Grandall and Ashley Blazina have come a long way together.

The students have attended Vinland Elementary, Poulsbo Junior High School, and North Kitsap High School. They’re not stopping with the culmination of their K-12 education either, fatefully choosing to attend the same college — Seattle University — in the fall.

“We’ve been going to school together since the third grade,” Blazina said.

But today’s commencement ceremonies for the North Kitsap High School class of 2005 will tie the two together in a way that is vastly different. As two of the school’s eight valedictorians, Blazina and Grandall will share the stage as the two student speakers.

They’ll be at the forefront of an almost 400-student strong graduating class that has endured much this past year, from the tragedies of losing classmates in car accidents to anguish over school district administration decisions.

For the seniors, all the challenges and triumphs of high school will serve as building blocks as they embark on the next steps in their young lives.

Heads of the class

Though only Blazina and Grandall will speak, a total of eight valedictorians will grace the stage. Each excelled — in sometimes very different ways — at North Kitsap High School.

They are unanimous, however, in the belief that what made NKHS special was the people: their fellow students, the staff and the faculty. They were also very ambitious students who felt that if they challenged themselves at North, the sky was the limit with what they could do.

They all had to admit one other thing: that leaving high school means they’ll have increased control over their lives — but also much more responsibility.

“It’s kinda cool,” said valedictorian Kristen Sprague, “and kinda scary at the same time.”

So, what are the valedictorians up to after graduation?

Grandall is headed to Seattle University on a merit based scholarship and is already enrolled in the school’s college of arts and sciences. At North, she was a four-year letter winner in tennis, was also on the sailing team in the fall and a member of Leaders In North Kitsap (LINK).

She feels ready to tackle college life, she said, as life in NK isn’t quite as exciting as what will be around her in Seattle.

Blazina, a winner of the Wendy Middlestadt Scholarship, Kitsap Arts and Crafts Scholarship, a Rotary Scholarship and a Burger King Scholarship, has also received one from SU. She’s planning to study writing, either as an English or journalism major.

At NKHS, she was a two-sport athlete on the swimming and track teams, in NHS (National Honor Society), an Indianola Roving Players’ show, and a tutor at Vinland Elementary.

She said she’ll miss most “the silly things I hear in the halls,” and “the interactions among different types of people.”

The other six valedictorians also carry impressive resumes into the next phase of their lives.

Tim Siburg received Pacific Lutheran University’s Presidential Scholarship and a PLU music department scholarship to attend the Tacoma-area school. An active member of the jazz and chamber choir in his time at NKHS, he’s not sure yet whether he’ll study business, history, economics, music or a combination of those disciplines.

Siburg reflects fondly on what he called “the encouraging atmosphere and close knit community” at North Kitsap that has formed through good times and bad.

“There’s been a lot of trials since I’ve been here,” he said. “But the way we’ve come together — it goes beyond the typical student and staff relationship.”

Katie Oost also accumulated a plethora of scholarships, including the Herrold Scholarship, Scottish Rite Freemasonry Scholarship and one from the school she’ll attend this fall, Whitman College.

At North, she was often the girls tennis team’s No. 1 singles player, an NHS member and the ASB’s Historian.

At Whitman, she said she’ll be playing tennis for the school’s team and is planning to double major in biology and psychology.

Oost said she was pleased that NKHS offered Advanced Placement courses that challenged her “so I won’t be so intimidated by college courses.”

“It will be different,” she said, “but not so drastic from what I’ve been doing.”

Sprague is going to the University of Washington on a full Naval ROTC scholarship, and also won the Vince Prouty Scholarship. This year’s NHS president, she was a two-sport athlete (volleyball and basketball) and was also in LINK. Sprague’s thinking about going into international studies.

She said she’s been coming to the realization that though she’s happy to move on to the next part of her life.

“I’ve been so excited to go to college,” she said, “but now, it’s like, ‘I’ll never see these people again.’”

Mallory Ferland is off to Gonzaga University in Spokane in the fall, riding the Dean’s Scholarship from the school. She’s planning to major in international studies, having multiple language courses of both French and German under her belt.

A member of NHS, she was also involved in Model United Nations, and served as a teen mentor at Wolfle Elementary School.

Ferland said she’s been blessed with teachers who have challenged her. Through her experiences at NKHS, she said she’ll remember most fondly her fellow students and the NKHS staff.

“I’ve gotten to know many students well, and we have a lot of smart teachers,” she said. “There’s a lot of good people here.”

Ella Sanman picked up a variety of scholarships, including the Santa Clara Dean’s Scholarship, to put forth toward her schooling at the bay area school.

She’s been involved in a variety of clubs, including Lifesavers and Rotary’s Interact Organization, as well as the NHS treasurer. She was also a state level golfer for the Vikings this year. She has plans to become a pediatric cardiologist.

“I’m going to be in school a long time,” she admitted.

Sanman said she, too, will remember the people more than anything else of high school life.

“How caring the kids and teachers have been through some hard times,” she said.

And last, but not least of the valedictorians, Andrew Richards is headed off to Whitman in the fall with many scholarships in tow, including the Tonja Barnett Lindstrom Award, Bremerton Scottish Rite and Washington State Elks scholarships. He’s planning to go into the engineering or medicine fields.

Richards has been keeping himself busy in high school, a part of the sailing club, NHS and an active participant in the ultimate frisbee club.

He’ll miss the teachers, too, stating he’s “had a blast in all areas,” of learning, even in ones he didn’t necessarily excel at.

“I’ve had more of a challenge in English (than the sciences),” he said. “But my teachers have been able to pull me through, help me.”

Richards realizes that this is both a conclusion to the class of 2005’s story, as well as a new beginning.

“This is the end for us,” he said. “Then we go our separate ways.”

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