WSA enjoying new location

 - Bill Mickelson/Staff Photo
— image credit: Bill Mickelson/Staff Photo

POULSBO — After trying to pencil itself into three different spaces, West Sound Academy has finally found a picture-perfect place to call home.

And it’s been nearly seven years in the making.

“From the beginning there was a vision for a place like this,” said WSA academic studies director Jim Kolb. “This (campus) is a result of a lot of people’s hard work.”

The 6-12 grade independent school has been functioning in makeshift settings since 1998 when it began at Camp Indianola with 18 students. That was the most scenic of the four campuses being right on the waterfront, Kolb said, but classroom consistency was absent as the school was forced to set up and take down each week due to shared occupation with the United Methodist Church.

WSA next tried the Seabold Methodist Church on Bainbridge Island, having similar complications. In 1999, the school moved into a former hardware store and restaurant in Suquamish where it had spent the past six years.

In November 2005, the school moved into it’s newest campus just east of Poulsbo near the Northwest College of Art on Creative Drive. The site boasts four 5,000-square-foot buildings on 20 acres, providing more than adequate space for the school’s student body of 100.

“There is enough space for us all,” said sophomore Sidney Mattocks. “With more space and new amenities, we have the tools for what we need to do.”

An art gallery and a dance room with a spring-cushioned floor are among highly anticipated additions, said head of school Nellie Baker. And science classrooms are now much bigger with stronger capabilities for hands-on experimentation.

The natural surroundings of the campus also allow more hands-on forms of study, including outdoor sciences and scenes that lend themselves to the more creative side of the artsy school.

“(The setting) helps with inspiration. When you are painting a picture or something, you can look out and it’s grass and trees instead of a parking lot and a Texaco across the street,” said junior Adam Lauderdale.

“People tend to think it’s either/or,” Kolb said of arts and academics. “But when you combine those two it creates a really powerful environment. (WSA) is an academic institution that marries art and academics.”

Its new campus has also married the scenic beauty of Camp Indianola with the consistency of the old Suquamish hardware store. It has spectacular views of Liberty Bay and the Olympic Mountains, it’s nestled in the trees up a winding dirt road off State Route 305 and, best of all, Kolb said, offers the constancy of a permanent home.

“(This campus) gives us a stable platform to teach. All of the teachers’ energy can go into the students,” Kolb said. “But the piece we’ve left behind is the community.”

Kolb said WSA would like to reach out to the “broader community,” from its new location. Two open houses this month are set to let community members meet the faculty and see the campus and students in action. For grades 6-8, the middle school open house will be at 7 p.m. Jan. 12, and the high school open house (grades 9-12) will be at 7 p.m. Jan. 26 both at WSA’s new campus off of SR 305 just past the Northwest College of Art.

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