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Posts Tagged "graduation"

Graduate Presents Gift of Aloha to Her Classmates at 2018 Commencement

June 03, 2018
By Susan Trower

The class of 2018 in the staging room before graduation - Espen Swanson photoThe West Sound Academy community - faculty, friends and family of the Class of 2018 - came to the House of Awakened Culture in Suquamish on May 25 to celebrate the school's 17th annual commencement. The graduates represented a diverse group: international student graduates from China, Vietnam and France, and some domestic students who had lived in other states before settling in Kitsap: Pennsylvania, Texas, Hawaii. All of these students, representing such different cultures and backgrounds, were thrilled to be at this celebration and acknowledgement of their achievements.

Jenna-lin Tabisola giving leis to her classmates, assisted by WSA Head of School Barrie Hillman - Espen Swanson photoJenna-lin Tabisola, originally from Hawaii, began the evening's ceremonies with a presentation of gifts from her family to each of her fellow classmate: fabric leis, in West Sound Academy's school colors. Tabisola's mother, Jennifer Komatsu, made the leis from "yards and yards of satin"; the entire project took several months to complete. Tabisola explained the significance of the gift.

Jenna-lin Tabisola giving a lei to her classmate, Yanli Zhang - Espen Swanson photo    "The Hawaiian word "Aloha" means love, mercy, compassion, hello and goodbye. It is a word that has to do with deep feelings and emotions. Giving a lei as a gift expresses the same meaning as "Aloha". A lei traditionally shows honor and love and is an extra special gift, as it carries not only a blessing and tangible beauty, but also represents the giving of time. We give these to the graduates to show our feelings of love and appreciation and in recognition for their hard work. Like a ring, a lei has no beginning or end, symbolizing your part of the West Sound experience. [West Sound] is a place you can always call home and a place that will always welcome you back."

Barrie Hillman, West Sound Academy's Head of School, gave assistance as Tabisola gave each of the graduates a lei. Then Randy Komatsu, the graduate's father, came up to the dais carrying his younger daughter Rielly so that the little girl could give a matching lei to her sister.


 >>>>>> Read more

Posted in Special Events

The Class of 2018 Celebrates College Declaration Day

May 17, 2018
By Susan Trower

WSA Class of 2018Students in the Class of 2018 are celebrating college success!  They were accepted at 44 four-year colleges and universities in the United States and abroad and were offered $1,901,730 in grants, awards and scholarships.

After commencement exercises on May 25 at the House of Awakened Culture in Suquamish, the newly-minted WSA alumni will be going in many different directions as they begin their undergraduate education at schools in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia.

On Thursday, May 17 - College Declaration Day at West Sound Academy - the members of the Class of 2018 announced their choices to WSA students and staff and signed the pennants of the colleges where they intend to enroll this fall.


College Destinations for the Seniors, or, Where Will They Be Next Fall?    Read more

Posted in Academics

May, 2018: Coming Up at West Sound Academy

April 29, 2018
By Susan Trower

Frodel Hall on the West Sound Academy campus - Mark Gsellman photo May 1:


Information Session and Tour

       Tuesday, 7 to 9 p.m.


Information Sessions introduce our faculty and program to interested families. Visitors have a chance to learn about our academics and extracurricular activities, meet the Head of School and some of the faculty and students, and take a tour of the campus.

Anyone interested in joining us for this Information Session can email Lisa Gsellman at

Go hawks! May 1-4:


WSA Spirit Week continues!


Monday, April 30: Pajama Day - dress comfy!

Tuesday, May 1: Snazzy Day - wear something snazzy!

Wednesday, May 2: Pacific Northwest Day - plaid shirt, socks & sandals

Thursday: Spirit Day - wear sports team or WSA gear

Friday: Star Wars Day - come as your favorite Star Wars character

Read more about WSA events in May!

Posted in All School

February, 2018: Coming Up at West Sound Academy

February 02, 2018
By Susan Trower

Mud Pie 2017 February 2:

The staff of Mud Pie is proud to present their fourth annual arts night and poetry slam:

    Arts Poetica: Volume Four

  The Commons  
  6:30 p.m.
The evening is a sharing of artwork, poetry and music in an open-mic format. Students, parents and community members are encouraged to bring in written work to read--either original or a favorite poem!
Sit down at the Art Wall and create art right on the spot that evening! 
There is a $5 suggested donation per attendee and Mud Pie will donate 50% of all profits to Listen to Your Art. 

Read more

Posted in All School

2017 Graduates Told "Set Your Sights on a Vision and Make It Happen"

May 24, 2017
By Susan Trower

The class of 2017 in the staging room before graduation - Mark Gsellman photoWest Sound Academy faculty joined with friends and family of the Class of 2017 at the House of Awakened Culture in Suquamish on May 19 for the school's 16th annual commencement. Head of School Barrie Hillman reminded everyone that the purpose of the evening is to acknowledge the personal achievement of each of the graduates. They had been told to "Set your sights on a vision and make it happen."  She added, "Each one in this class created their own vision of their future and have worked hard to achieve the first of many big steps to bringing it to fruition."

Jim Kolb walking out at the end of his sixteenth West Sound Academy commencement - Mark Gsellman photoHillman added that it's important for graduates to recognize those who have guided them on their journey: the faculty and staff of West Sound. Hillman gave special note to one faculty member, Jim Kolb, Director of Finance and Operations, who is retiring at the end of the school year after serving in a variety of positions, teaching and administrative, since the school's founding in 1998.

Hillman encouraged those in the audience to write Kolb a note about the greatest lesson they've learned from him, then she showed off her own set of many, many notes of appreciation (taped together, accordion-style) for his years of service to West Sound's students, families, and faculty.

WSA band members strike their self-confidence poses during the audience participation part of Bridget Young's speech - Mark Gsellman photoMarisa Lanning, Chair of WSA's Board of Trustees, then introduced Bridget Young, the commencement speaker. Young, a Poulsbo realtor and Kitsap native, has also performed as a stand-up comedian at charity events. She kept the audience laughing while she told of her experiences, at times painful, in high school and college. She challenged the graduates to believe in themselves enough to keep trying until they succeed. She concluded her speech with a moment of audience participation: everyone in the room was asked to stand, put their hands on their hips, and strike a self-affirming pose.

WSA Music Ensemble performing 'Forever Young' with seniors Spencer Drewry, Leanne Gimber, Ryley Mercado, and Ben Silvernale - Mark Gsellman photoThat bit of practice in self-confidence came just in time, since the next part of the program was the "The Last Word".  Hillman introduced each of the graduates as they came to give their senior speeches - a West Sound tradition.  

The WSA Music Ensemble, directed by Paul Burback, performed "Forever Young" by Alphaville, assisted by four members of the senior class giving their last performance as West Sound musicians. Hillman and Lanning then came back to the podium for the highlight of the evening:  the presentation of diplomas.    

Hillman presented the graduates to the community, then led them in the moving of the tassel on their mortarboards from the right to the left.  These newest WSA alumni left the building to the tune of "Tongue Tied" by Group Love, followed by the faculty and guests. Out on the lawn facing the Sound the graduates lined up for the traditional celebration:  the tossing of the caps.  

Congratulations, Class of 2017!


Sisi Cao - Mark Gsellman photoSisi Cao is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Course Student. She is the daughter of Feilong Cao and Mingping Tang of Shenzhen, Guangdong, China.

Sisi will be attending the University of Washington.  

Spencer Drewry - Mark Gsellman photoSpencer Drewry is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidate. He is the son of David and Tiffany Drewry of Port Townsend.

Spencer will be attending California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

Leanne Gimber - Mark Gsellman photoLeanne Gimber is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidate. She is the granddaughter of John and Lori Swendeman of Poulsbo.

Leanne will be attending Grand Canyon University. 

Annika Hald - Mark Gsellman photoAnnika Hald is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Course Student. She is the daughter of Dan and Renee Hald of Poulsbo.

Annika will be attending Central Washington University.  


Karsten Hald - Mark Gsellman photoKarsten Hald is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidate. He is the son of Dan and Renee Hald of Poulsbo.

Karsten will be attending the University of Washington.  


Wai Ching Kwok - Mark Gsellman photoWai Ching Kwok is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Course Student. She is the daughter of Sze Kong Kwok and Pui Yee Flora Yip of Hong Kong, China.

Wai Ching will be attending Sheffield Hallam University in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England.  

Kaiwen Ma - Mark Gsellman photoKaiwen Ma is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Course Student. She is the daughter of Ming Ma and Hui Liu of Qingdao, Shandong, China.

Kaiwen will be attending Raffles Design Institute at the Raffles College of Higher Education in Singapore.

Ryley Mercado - Mark Gsellman photoRyley Mercado is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Course Student. He is the son of Denis Sieminski of Seattle and Andrea Mercado of Poulsbo.

Ryley will be attending the University of Northern Colorado.


Yucong Pan - Mark Gsellman photoYucong Pan is the daughter of Guanghui Pan and Meijun Sun of Qingdao, Shandong, China.

Yucong will be attending Kaplan Singapore.


Benjamin Silvernale - Mark Gsellman photoBenjamin Silvernale is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidate. He is the son of Chuck Silvernale of Poulsbo and Jennifer David, also of Poulsbo.

Benjamin will be attending the University of Washington.    


Madelyn Solly-Tanner - Mark Gsellman photoMadelyn Solly-Tanner is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidate. She is the daughter of Bruce Solly and Traci Tanner of Poulsbo.

Madelyn will be attending Washington State University.  


Espen Swanson - Mark Gsellman photoEspen Swanson is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidate. He is the son of Chris and Kara Swanson of Poulsbo.

Espen will be attending Reed College.   


Eleanor Uyyek - Mark Gsellman photoEleanor Uyyek is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidate. She is the daughter of Jeff and Kim Uyyek of Poulsbo.

Eleanor will be attending the University of British Columbia. 


Alexandra Welch - Mark Gsellman photoAlexandra Welch is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidate. She is the daughter of Kiev and Amy Darrington of Poulsbo.

Alexandra will be attending the Evergreen State College.


See more of Mark Gsellman's photos in the '2017 Graduation' album in Image Galleries.

The Class of 2017 celebrating their graduation with the tossing of the caps - Mark Gsellman photo


Posted in Special Events


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