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Salamunovich Gives Class of 2016 Some Life Lessons - "What I Wish I Knew Then, What I Know Now"

May 30, 2016
By Susan Trower

WSA's Class of 2016 - Mark Gsellman photoStephen Salamunovich, CSA, a casting director and musician, joined friends and family of West Sound Academy's Class of 2016 at the House of Awakened Culture in Suquamish on May 27 for the school's 15th annual commencement.  Head of School Barrie Hillman welcomed all in attendance, and after an introduction from Lawrence Kerr, Chair of WSA's Board of Trustees, Salamunovich took the podium to address the graduates and guests.

Stephen Salamunovich and WSA faculty - Espen Swanson photoSalamunovich looked back to his own high school graduation forty years ago and the way his life had been "all planned out" and then had taken a series of very different turns, leading him to establish his casting firm in Seattle rather than New York or Los Angeles.  He then gave his list of thirty-one things he's learned that he thinks are valuable - advice on everything from careers, family, political participation, the importance of critical thinking, and personal happiness.  Salamunovich ended with a wish that the graduates become "truly connected to each other, to our planet, [and] to the animals living on it" saying once that happens "we can solve every single problem we have today!  Every one!"  The full text of his speech is here:  

What I Wish I Knew Then, What I Know Now ... (Or THINK I KNOW!") - Stephen Salamunovich

Seniors giving their last WSA music performance - Mark Gsellman photoBarrie Hillman then introduced each of the graduates as they came to give their senior speeches - "The Last Word".  Many members of the senior class came off the dais so that they could give their last music performance as WSA students - "The Weight" by The Band.  

Hillman and Kerr 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.  The newly-minted WSA alumni left the building to the tune of "Take On Me" by A-Ha, 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 2016!


Xue Guo - Espen Swanson photo

Xue Guo is the daughter of Dong Guo and Ping Shen of Beijing, China.  

Xue will be attending Savannah College of Art and Design.  


Megan Hall - Espen Swanson photo

Megan Hall is the daughter of Keith and Laurie Hall of Bremerton.  

Megan will be attending Western Washington University.  


Kwong Wa Lam - Mark Gsellman photo

Kwong Wa Lam is the son of Ching Lam and Wan Chan of Kowloon City, Hong Kong, China.  

Kwong Wa will be attending Oregon State University.  

Angie Mead - Espen Swanson photo

Angie Mead is the daughter of Malcolm and Kathy Mead of Bainbridge Island.  

Angie will be attending Whitman College.  

Aidan Moore - Mark Gsellman photo

Aidan Moore is the son of Bryan Moore of Poulsbo and Patricia Moore of Port Gamble.  

Aidan will be attending Pomona College.  

Liam Near - Mark Gsellman photo

Liam Near is the son of Randy Near and Kim Hancock of Kingston.  

Liam will be attending the University of Washington.  


Yongyao Peng - Mark Gsellman photo

Yongyao Peng is the son of Xiaotong Peng and Qiying Shen of Xiamen, Fujian, China.  

Yongyao will be attending George Mason University. 

Sam Phillips - Espen Swanson photo

Sam Phillips is the son of Jeff Phillips of Bainbridge Island and Meg Mitchell, also of Bainbridge Island.  

Sam will be attending Willamette University.

Ce Qiu (Bill) - Mark Gsellman photo

Ce Qiu is the son of Ruijv Qiu and Jingying Chen of Huizhou, Guangdong, China.  

Ce will be attending University of Colorado, Boulder.

Joey Schmitt - Espen Swanson photo

Joey Schmitt is the son of David and Sharley Schmitt of Suquamish. 

Joey will be attending Western Washington University.    


Peter Silvernale - Espen Swanson photo

Peter Silvernale is the son of Chuck Silvernale of Poulsbo and Jennifer Silvernale, also of Poulsbo. 

Peter will be attending the University of Oregon.  

Wenhui Tang - Espen Swanson photo

Wenhui Tang is the son of Junyou Tang and Hong Yang of Beijing, China. 

Wenhui will be attending the University of Vermont.   


Ben Taylor - Mark Gsellman photo

Ben Taylor is the son of Harry Taylor and Sheila Smith of Poulsbo. 

Ben will be attending the University of Washington. 


Cornelia Thane - Espen Swanson photo

Cornelia Thane is the daughter of Henrik and Marianne Thane of Vasteras, Sweden.

Cornelia will be returning home to complete her final year of high school in Sweden.

Taylor Thornton - Espen Swanson photo

Taylor Thornton is the son of Shawn and Kelly Thornton of Kingston. 

Taylor will be attending Montana State University. 


Conor Ultican - Mark Gsellman photo

Conor Ultican is the son of Shawn Ultican of Port Orchard and Kaela Moontree, also of Port Orchard. 

Conor will be attending Western Washington University.

Zhaoyang Zheng - Mark Gsellman photo

Zhaoyang Zheng is the son of Zhifang Zheng and Xuemei Xu of Huizhou, Guangdong, China.  

Zhaoyang will be attending Oregon State University.


The Class of 2016 celebrating their graduation with the tossing of the caps - Mark Gsellman photo

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