After being the first school in Kitsap County to close due to COVID-19 a few years back, Kingston High School’s Class of 2022 returned in person for graduation.
Despite dealing with hardships through high school, 167 graduates walked the stage to receive their diplomas and set foot toward adulthood Saturday.
Although Kingston is smaller than most local high schools, families packed North Kitsap Stadium in Poulsbo to witness for just over an hour the event take place. The graduation consisted of music from local tribal members, a speech from the principal, music by the high school band and choir, and speeches from the valedictorians/salutatorians.
There was one common theme—”resilience.” Principal Jack Simonson began the speeches by discussing how the four years have been unique.
“Here we are, celebrating the Class of 2022, and your accomplishments after four pretty standard, pretty boring years,” Simonson jokingly said. “We spent almost an entire year learning from home. We lost sports, dances, clubs and access to our friends for a while. But, we came back. If what I was supposed to do right now is encapsulate the graduating class into a unifying theme, then that is ours. You are the ones that came back.”
Simonson gave a few words of advice. “Remember, you know better than most, just because something is done some way doesn’t mean that’s always how it has to be done,” he said.
Salutatorian Lea Danhauer gave her input on the four challenging years. “When you sit down and list off all the things this class has gone through, there is a lot,” she said. “This group of seniors has been resilient. When I think of resilience, I think of grit, power and the will to push through when life is throwing everything it can in your way.”
Valedictorians Claire Moe and Grace Epperson added to the underlying theme.
“As a community, it is impressive what we have accomplished,” Moe said. “Think of everything we struggled through—social, political and economic. Together, we have adapted to everything that has been thrown at us. Our journey has prepared us well for whatever challenges come next.”
Epperson added: “When I reflect on these years, it hasn’t been easy to summarize all the struggles we’ve been through. We were forced to learn new ways to live, connect and learn. Through that process, we have become resilient.”