Class of 2023 graduates, then celebrates.
On May 27, the Indianola Clubhouse was the setting for West Sound Academy's commencement for the school’s 22nd graduating class: the seniors of 2023. Family, friends, and teachers of the graduates came to offer their support and join in the celebration. After the graduates marched into the hall to the sound of Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance, everyone took their seat – and Cari Crane, WSA’s IB Psychology teacher, took to the stage to offer an invocation. She invited the graduates to stand up, look at the audience – everyone who had come to honor and celebrate them on their special day – and wave. And the audience waved back!
Catherine Freeman, West Sound Academy Head of School, next welcomed everyone to the commencement ceremony. She had words of encouragement for the graduates and spoke directly to them: “…[Y]ou have had to overcome obstacles to get to this place today. It was challenging and you have succeeded. It will be challenging again in the future and I know you can succeed again.”
Freeman also advised the graduates of the importance of recognizing everyone who was instrumental in helping them make it to this culmination of their education at WSA. She went on to thank the parents, the teachers, and this year’s members of the Board of Trustees. This year is the 25th anniversary of West Sound Academy, and Freeman called for special recognition of the founders of West Sound Academy, Dr. Ed Frodel and Dr. Gordon Parke. Freeman noted that “the school, and the way it impacts lives, would not be possible without [their] vision and determination.”
Crystal Thornell, Chair of the Board of Trustees, next came to the podium to introduce the commencement speaker, Liam Near, WSA 2015 – a University of Washington graduate and music teacher with the Bremerton School District. In his speech, Liam referred to the speech he gave exactly seven years earlier when he had been on the WSA commencement stage himself. He then conveyed to this year’s class the lessons he had received from his parents and had mentioned in his 2015 speech. As important as it is to be “the protagonist of your life …it is even more important to be the director. You must pay attention to how you frame the sequences of events that make up your stories.”
Near went on to acknowledge the important role that WSA teachers have played in the lives of these newest graduates. “They have prepared you not only for what you are going to do next in the story of your life, but given you great skills, and perspectives for how you are going to tell that story. They have given you a capacity to do the ‘behind the camera work’ that will heighten the value of your life’s many ups and downs.” He added, “Remember that you get to be the ones to frame your life the way you want to, and while you may not always know exactly how to be the director and do that behind the camera work, that you can always seek out the perspectives of those in your life who have been doing this behind the camera work all along.”
Next came the graduates' chance to each give a speech: "The Last Word" - a West Sound tradition. Freeman had asked teachers to provide adjectives that aptly described the personality and disposition of each graduate. She made each introduction by reading the list of descriptive words, then the student’s name. The graduates all expressed pride and relief at having made it to this point and thanked their family and friends for their continuing love and support.
Each speaker also expressed gratitude and admiration for their fellow graduates – and their West Sound Academy teachers. “But now we all go our separate ways,” said Ava Erickson, speaking to the Class of 2023. “What comforts me is that these people who I love and who teach me, can never really leave me because I get to hold on to everything they taught me. I get to use every skill and idea and lesson at every obstacle from this point on. So thank you, and some part of you will be forever with me.”
Then the senior class got up from their chairs and walked across the room to their waiting instruments and microphones. Under the direction of Paul Burback, they performed "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" by Tears for Fears - the students' last performance as West Sound musicians. Once all the graduates were seated again, Freeman and Eric Bright, West Sound Academy history teacher, went to the podium for the highlight of commencement: the handing out of the diplomas. Each graduate came to the stage one by one after Bright read their name. Freeman handed each one their diploma and shook their hand. Together, the Head of School and the new alum looked at Forrest Kenworthy, WSA Humanities teacher and commencement photographer, as he took their photo.
The room was full of smiles and applause as Freeman presented the graduates to the community. These freshly-minted WSA alumni moved the tassels on their mortarboards from right to left, then happily left the Clubhouse to the tune of “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley. The faculty and other guests followed the graduates to the park across the street. Everyone joined in the ‘Cap-Launch’ countdown, then watched as the graduates tossed their caps into the air.
Congratulations, Class of 2023!
Alvaro Anglas Camarena
Alvaro Anglas Camarena is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidate.
Parents: Zósimo Anglas Urdánegui and Natividad Camarena Cóndor of Huancayo, Junín, Peru
Alvaro will be attending Pacific Lutheran University.
Lena (“LC”) Bowen
Lena (“LC”) Bowen is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidate.
Parents: Clark Bowen and Thomasine Tangenbowen of Hansville
Lena will be doing a gap year and traveling to Peru and Bolivia.
Darame Elmstrom is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidate.
Parents: Michael and Cynthia Elmstrom of Poulsbo
Darame will be attending Western Washington University.
Ava Erickson is an International Baccalaureate Certificate Candidate.
Parents: Hans and Angel Erickson of Quilcene
Ava will be attending Pace University.
West Gienow is an International Baccalaureate Certificate Candidate.
Parents: Scott and Melissa Gienow of Hansville.
West will be attending Central Washington University.
Sadie Gleasman is an International Baccalaureate Certificate Candidate.
Parents: Jon Gleasman and Danielle Gordon of Bainbridge Island.
Sadie will be attending the University of Victoria.
Parents: Steve Lampert and Amanda Webby of Port Townsend.
Sam will be attending the University of Puget Sound.
Ximenez Leyva is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidate.
Parents: John Leyva of Davis, California and Gelsomina Chioino of Bainbridge Island
Ximenez will be attending the University of Washington.
Mia Lowell is an International Baccalaureate Certificate Candidate.
Parents: Thomas and Tamar Lowell of Bainbridge Island
Mia will be doing a gap year and traveling to Israel.
Chayton Martinez is an International Baccalaureate Certificate Candidate.
Parents: Frank Martinez and Carol Venable of Kingston
Chayton will be attending Lane Community College.
Madelynn Prasch is an International Baccalaureate Certificate Candidate.
Parents: Daniel and Shannon Prasch of Poulsbo.
Madelynn will be attending Southern Oregon University.
Abirami Subramanian is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidate.
Parents: Yesh Subramanian and Thangam Chandrasekaran of Bainbridge Island
Abirami will be doing a gap year and traveling to India.