PRLog - Jun. 14, 2011 - POULSBO, Wash. -- West Sound Academy (WSA) held its tenth annual commencement exercises on June 9, 2011 at Kiana Lodge in Poulsbo. Paul Kikuchi, Seattle-area musician and composer and a former teacher at WSA, gave the commencement speech. At the beginning of the ceremony, before the focus shifted to the awarding of diplomas to members of the Class of 2011, WSA Associate Head of School Barrie Hillman announced this year's winners of West Sound Academy's Community Awards. Earlier this spring, school administrators consulted with the seniors on who in the greater West Sound community should be recognized for leadership in the areas of service, arts education, character, and international education. The awardees were chosen, and the seniors held fundraising barbecues to pay for the plaques given to each recipient.
West Sound Academy Class of 2011
Amanda Aurand, a member of WSA's first graduating class of 2002, received the community award for exceptional demonstration of Character. Aurand, a member of West Sound Academy's first graduating class of 2002, chose teaching as her profession, earning a dual degree in Special Education and Elementary Education. She worked for several years as an Inclusion teacher for severely disabled young children in a Bremerton School District elementary school. In her current position, Amanda takes children who have had difficulty functioning in a normal classroom setting into her own classroom, and then helps them develop skills so that they can be successful back at their home schools. Her principal, Patricia Grenquist, said about her, "Amanda is an extraordinary teacher. She teaches our most behaviorally challenged students; she does her job with a lot of care, competence and ability beyond compare. She never gives up on kids [and] she is skilled at getting the most and best work from them.... This is the hardest work, the least likely to be acknowledged and Amanda is masterful at it... she is a heroine, and an adult young people could emulate. "
Suzanne Droppert, long-time owner of Liberty Bay Books of Poulsbo, was recognized for her outstanding efforts in service, both to the historic downtown business area and to local public libraries and schools. "Suzanne has brought amazing authors to the Kitsap community...and in the world of eBooks, is unafraid, and has shared her knowledge with others in classes at the local library. Suzanne believes in public service, and is truly making a difference in our community,” said Hillman.
Mark and Lisa Gsellman of Indianola received the community award for extraordinary work in furthering the ideals of International Education here in Kitsap County. The Gsellmans have hosted three international students - from China, Germany, and Serbia, - and have offered attention and support to other students at West Sound Academy who are far away from home. "They are the parents in every sense of the word, feeding them, driving them and making sure they are keeping up with their schoolwork. Mark and Lisa are both very busy people, with two children of their own, but they have made their role of host parents a priority, making sure these students get an authentic and real American experience,"
Paul Kikuchi, the evening's speaker, received the community award for achievement in Arts Education. "Paul Kikuchi hails from Indianola, and has built a multi-faceted career for himself combining work as a composer, percussionist, instrument-builder and record-label founder. All of these components fuel his other career: that of music educator." Hillman told the audience. Kikuchi has taught at a number of schools besides WSA, including The American International School of Budapest, and in Los Angeles, the Oakwood School and the Community Arts Partnership. He is currently audio faculty at the Art Institute of Seattle. "Paul thrives on the excitement that comes with working with youth, passing on his knowledge of music and sound, and getting them excited to explore this area of the arts," she added.
Kikuchi drew from his two decades of experience as a student and teacher of music in his address to the graduates. He told them that true mastery of a talent or subject could take "10,000 hours" of practice and study over a number of years. Kikuchi cautioned them that in the urge to attain that level of competence sooner, and get through those hours faster, they might be tempted to forego 'having a life' so that they can totally immerse themselves in that one area. He urged them to pursue a more balanced life, and "to take care of the person they are going to be."
Everyone in the Class of 2011 had the opportunity to present their individual version of 'The Last Word' speech. Some were funny, some serious, and some evoked tears from both the speakers and members of the audience. Jack Nunn, Chair of West Sound Academy's Board of Trustees, awarded the diplomas, assisted by Associate Head of School Barrie Hillman and English instructor Dr. Dianah Jackson. The graduates moved the tassels on their caps, then marched out to Elton John's version of Circle of Life from The Lion King, to the applause of family, friends, and their West Sound teachers.
Members of the West Sound Academy Class of 2011:
• Adrianne (Drey) Cheung is the daughter of Bill Cheung of Hong Kong. Drey will be attending Eckerd College.
• Enzo D'Angelo-Patricio is the son of Jeff Patricio of Kingston and Debra D’Angelo of Bainbridge Island. Enzo will be attending Central Seattle Community College.
• Mikail Dash-Green is the son of Robert Dash and Leah Green, both of Indianola. Mikail will be attending The Evergreen State College.
• Mackenzie Guardado is the daughter of Monica Burgess of Poulsbo. Mackenzie will be attending Linfield College.
• Yaxuan Lu is the daughter of Jie Lu and Huiling Huang of Yongkang, Jhejiang, China. Yaxuan will be attending University of Washington.
• Jack Nunn is the son of Jack and Susan Nunn of Bainbridge Island. Jack will be attending Linfield College.
• Sarah Stone is the daughter of Todd and Michelle Stone of Kingston. Sarah will be attending University of Puget Sound.
• Chen Tong is the daughter of Ginkang Tong and Fang Chen of Changzhou, Jiangsu, China. Chen will be returning to China.
• Lucas Verwolf is the son of Janet Verwolf of Bainbridge Island. Lucas will be attending Willamette University.
• Matthew Wong is the son of Michael and Annette Wong of Bainbridge Island. Matthew will be attending Willamette University.
• Sheng Xiao is the daughter of Baomin Xiao and Leyi Zhu of Nanjing, Jiangsu, China. Sheng will be returning to China.
• Wenjie Yang is the son of Xinkai Yang and Jun Liu of Shenjiang City, Jiangsu, China. Wenjie will be attending University of Rhode Island.
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West Sound Academy: an independent college preparatory school for grades 6-12 on the Kitsap Peninsula in Poulsbo, Washington, providing a rigorous academic and art curriculum and offering the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in grades 11-12.