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PAL graduates step out into the world

POULSBO — Tia Schwarz found the PAL program quite by accident. She wandered into the program’s main office one day, and asked what, exactly, the program was. After hearing that it was an alternative for students who want to work at their own pace and receive one-on-one instruction, she was sold. And she stayed. And she worked toward her high school diploma in a smaller, more focused setting than a regular high school.

Her studious ways paid off on Thursday evening, as she celebrated her graduation from Parent Assisted Learning Program with about 30 others.

In the intimate setting of the North Kitsap Auditorium, about 20 PAL graduates received their high school diplomas — their stepping stones to their futures.

It was a graduation ceremony less formal than most. Most of the 13 graduates who chose to participate were clad jeans and flip flops. Though the clothing was less formal, the ritual was the same as the students graduating from North Kitsap and Kingston high schools. And so were the sentiments.

Among the graduates were students like Denise Kuehl, who made the most of her high school career. While attending classes, she also worked as a teacher’s assistant. She sees herself getting a teaching degree and heading off into the classroom.

Her favorite quote through high school as it was shared with the crowd of about 100 attendees was, “PAL really rocks my socks.”

Fellow graduate Cynthia Grey was also succinct in her reasons for liking the PAL program, as opposed to a regular high school: “No drama.”

Sam Carpenter, who was noticeably more relaxed after receiving his diploma, attended PAL since the eighth grade. He’ll be stepping into the working world as a welder this summer. His words of wisdom, likely picked up from his experiences on the debate team, were “Wherever you go, there you are.”

As for the whole high school experience, he said he was definitely happy to have it in his rearview mirror, but, all things considered, high school wasn’t a horrible experience.

“I guess it wasn’t that bad,” he said. “It could have been a whole lot worse.”

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