Last Saturday was the moment Kingston High School seniors had all been waiting for, the chance to breathe a sigh of relief and rejoice in a fresh kind of freedom: deliverance from bell schedules, homework, exams and all the other demands of high school. Finally, the end was in sight.
Well, at least for those who brought sunglasses anyway.
Beneath a nearly cloudless June sky and sat atop a blindingly-white stage, students took it all in as friends and family cheered from the stands of North Kitsap High School stadium, while the happy seniors enjoyed their final moments of high school. Those unfortunate enough to have forgotten their sunglasses squinted from the merciless glare of the sun reflecting off the white, plastic tiles laid afield for the occasion, but even those without shades appeared to be in good spirits.
Kingston’s new principal, Jack Simonson, addressed the students at the event.
“It is my honor and privilege to be with you here today as the principal of Kingston High School,” Simonson began.
“As you’ll note in this program, this is where I celebrate the growth and accomplishments of this, the class of 2019. I’ll start by acknowledging the elephant in the stadium: I’ve only been the principal here for a little longer than two months.”
Referring to his previous role as an educator with North Kitsap High School, Simonson was the first to admit that he may be biased when comparing Kingston to NKHS.
“Before coming here I used to work [at North Kitsap High School],” the principal said. “This means that I’m not only naive, but likely riddled with flawed perspective when it comes to Kingston High School. I wouldn’t blame you for being skeptical for anything I have to say at this point. I have my own doubts as well.”
Simonson’s remarks elicited a chuckle from the audience, before the principal appeared to earnestly acquiesce that he had been at a loss while attempting to draft his graduation speech. Simonson explained that he became inspired, in part by the words of the speakers at North Kitsap High School’s graduation the day prior.
“Several of the speeches were downright subversive, in the best possible way.” Simonson said. “Their most academically decorated students criticized their school, pointing out much of its hypocrisy and inhumanity. The absurdity of things like GPA, credits, bells and rules.”
“I’ll admit, my armor cracked a little bit last night,” Simonson continued. “As a lifelong public school employee, I’m no stranger to rebellion, but I’m also no stranger to the long hours and hard work each of us puts in for days just like today.”
“Our critics are not necessarily wrong,” Simonson admitted. “To the people that say our schools might be flawed or broken, I can’t necessarily disagree, we’re not perfect.”
“Here’s the thing schools are not just buildings and rules and unfair policies, they are people, we are people and that’s a really good thing. Though never perfect, people have the ability to listen, we have the ability to adapt and change. This means that schools do too. It also means that as people, schools can be kind, caring, compassionate and fun.”
“My hope for you, Kingston High School students, graduates, parents and loved ones, is that you will remember our school not for its flaws, mistakes, hot days and bright sun, but for its humanity and heart, we are both of those things.”
Kingston High School Class of 2019
- Dave Andersen – Allegheny College (Physics)
- Abby Brown – Seattle Pacific University (Nutrition and food sciences)
- Kit Ellsworth – Cornell University (Biology)
- Charlotte Hanson – Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute (undecided)
- Leif Whalen – United States Military Academy at West Point (Mechanical Engineering)
- Kenzie Rutherford