POULSBO — For nine years, Matt Tougas has called Christ the King Academy his school, spanning his academic life from grades kindergarten through nine.
“This school has been great,” Tougas said, reflecting on his final regular day — June 7 — at school. “The teachers here care and support you. I couldn’t imagine life without (Christ the King).”
But Monday night, Tougas and nine other ninth graders culminated their experience at Christ the King with graduation and prepared to move on to their next educational experience, be it public school, private school, or even at home. Four eighth graders, who will start at a nine-12 grade high school, also graduated.
The group of ninth graders, composed of eight boys and two girls, were described by one of their teachers, John Bennett, as students who are not afraid of the challenges that lie ahead.
“These are not passive kids,” Bennett said. “They’re very active and they come from great families.”
Bennett, who instructs along with lead teacher Carla Pasculli and Erin Long, said conversations in the staff room concerning the students often involve curiosity about what the graduating class will be up to in a few years.
“We often wonder, ‘Where are these kids going?’” Bennett said.
Holding back is not one of the classes’ stronger qualities, added ninth graders Amanda Gilderman and Casey Clark.
“They know who they are and each has a different character,” Gilderman said of her classmates.
“They’re not afraid to show who they really are,” said Clark, whose mother, Jody, has taught at CKA since Casey was 2 1/2 years old. “And they’re all sweet, too.”
Students have also been exiting the ninth grade in style — the final week of school included trips to Fort Warden in Port Townsend, a picnic at Raab Park and a field trip to Wild Waves.
They will go their separate ways next year. Some of the students will head off to public high schools — North and Central Kitsap — while others are staying on the private route.
“We get to move on,” said ninth grader James Beisley, who will attend North Kitsap High School next year. “It’s sad but we get to do something new.”