Many members of the West Sound community were present at Kiana Lodge that evening to help with the celebration of the graduates' achievement. Lisa Gsellman, WSA office manager and host parent for one of the Chinese international students, read the invocation. Two of the graduates went to join the choir after the opening processional rather than walk immediately up to the dais so that they could join in singing Irish Blessing. Performance Club members, under the direction of Kitsap Children's Musical Theatre volunteer and WSA parent Sara Adams, danced and sang a spirited version of Sing from Glee, at one point turning towards the graduates and inviting them to join along. Eleanor Johnson, English and poetry teacher and literary journal advisor read a poem she composed for her son Rush and his seven fellow graduates, Quantum Mechanics Can't Explain This. And keeping with tradition, every member of the WSA faculty and administrative staff was present to witness this important milestone in these students' lives.
Early in the evening's proceedings Hillman, assisted by Laurence Kerr, presented awards of excellence in academics, arts, citizenship and community service to a number of West Sound Academy Upper School students. Selection for the awards was based on deliberations by the entire faculty, with unique criteria considered for each award.
Recipients of 2012 Upper School Awards:
• Morgan Kuntz, English Literature Award of Excellence
• Gab Vogt, English Writing Award of Excellence
• Jingdong Zhao, English Language Award of Excellence
• Gab Vogt, History Award of Excellence
• Luyao Wang, Mathematics Award of Excellence
• Luyao Wang, Science Award of Excellence
• Brad Lambert, French Language Award of Excellence
• Jordan Jackson, Spanish Language Award of Excellence
• Olivia Mansker-Stoker, Visual Arts Award of Excellence
• Blanca Lecube Casado, Dance Award of Excellence
• Dalis Sierra, Music Award of Excellence
• Hailey Hunter, Drama Award of Excellence
• Dalis Sierra, Athlete Scholar
• Evan Romasco-Kelly Edward C. Frodel Citizenship Award
• Mara Rolsky, Trevor Aurand Community Service Award
After the music and awards, Greg MacDonald went to the platform to address the graduates and their guests. MacDonald taught for many years at West Sound before leaving to devote more time to painting, drawing and work at his web design firm, StudioWhat. Throughout his life as a teachers, designer, and artist, MacDonald has maintained a practice of doing a "daily drawing" - often in a neighborhood coffee shop, with friends or students stopping by to chat. MacDonald's address to WSA's Class of 2012 was about the lessons he's learned from this daily discipline of drawing, summed up in the phrase Do. It will become you.
Everyone in the Class of 2012 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. Diane Lenius, Chair of West Sound Academy's Board of Trustees, awarded the diplomas, assisted by Hillman. The graduates moved the tassels on their caps and danced briefly on the dais to a few bars of Interior Crocodile by Chip Da Rapper. Then their commencement was over, and it was time to march out to a symphonic version of the Star Wars Theme as family, friends, and West Sound teachers stood and gave heartfelt applause. Outside, on the Kiana Lodge lawn, the new graduates tossed their caps under cloudy June skies.
Members of the West Sound Academy Class of 2012:
• Emma Christen is the daughter of Glen and Marcia Christen of Poulsbo, and an International Baccalaureate Diploma Course student. Emma will be attending Hampshire College. Emma was awarded the Non Satis Scire Academic Scholarship Award from Hampshire College.
• Eric Fernando is the son of Engkos Hendarman and Sri Hidayati of Tangerang, Indonesia. Eric will be attending Senior High School #2 in Tangerang when he returns to Indonesia.
• Rush Johnson is the son of Norman and Eleanor Johnson of Poulsbo, and an International Baccalaureate Diploma Course student. Rush will be attending Randolph College. Rush was awarded the Founder's Scholarship from Randolph College.
• Evan Lenius is the son of Eric and Diane Lenius of Port Orchard, and an International Baccalaureate Diploma Course student. Evan will be attending Western Washington University.
• Rhiannon Mathisen-Jamrock is the daughter of Byran and Vanessa Nelsen of Edmonds and Jason Jamrock of Poulsbo, and an International Baccalaureate Diploma Course student. Rhiannon will be attending Edmonds Community College.
• Zoe Weintraub is the daughter of Phillip and Audrey Wolf of Poulsbo and Jay Weintraub of Cour d' Alene, Idaho. Zoe will be attending Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Portland. Zoe won the 2012 Slug Hunt and Auction Scholarship from Front Street Gallery in Poulsbo.
• Yichen Wu is the son of Limin Wu and Yunqing Zhu of Hangzhou, China. Yichen will be attending Drexel University. Yichen was awarded the Dean's Scholarship from the College of Engineering at Drexel University.
• Zhaokai Wu is the son of Zhongqing and Mei Wu of Chengdu, China. Zhaokai will be attending University of Wisconsin, Madison.
As a group, the Class of 2012 was accepted at twenty-six different colleges and universities and was awarded $362,810 in scholarships.
See Mark Gsellman's photos of West Sound Academy's 2012 Commencement at: http://www.westsoundacademy.org/