Q&A with Central Kitsap HS co-valedictorians

Part two in our series of question and answer sessions with Kitsap Valedictorians -- we sit down with co-valedictorians Melissa Khuat and Nick Anderson of Central Kitsap High School.

As graduation approaches, we’re sitting down with local students to discuss their time in Central Kitsap and Bremerton.

Earlier this week we talked with Yoon Jung Kim, the Olympic High School valedictorian. Now we’ve moved over to Central Kitsap High School to talk with Melissa Khuat and Nick Anderson, co-valedictorians for CKHS.

Our education reporter, Wes Morrow, sat down with them both for a team interview Friday.

Khuat and Anderson are part of a cohort of high-achieving students at CKHS vying for top academic honors. Along with the two valedictorians, seven students received salutatorian honors — most of those students had 4.0s.

Both Khuat and Anderson have their own take on their time at CKHS and their future plans, but the two have a lot in common as well.

For example, they both have 4.0s. They both plan to attend the University of Washington after graduation, and both of their sets of parents are engineers that work with the Navy in Kitsap County.

Look online tomorrow for an interview with Klahowya’s valedictorian, Sally Fletcher.


The majority of Friday’s conversation is listed below.

When did you find out you were valedictorians?

Melissa: Thursday or Friday morning a few weeks ago.

Nick: We got called into the office during our first period. Most of the Vals and sals (valedictorians and salutatorians) are in the same first period and we got called into the office successively. Melissa and I got called in and a lot of the other class got called in for sal.

And we’re not allowed to tell anyone until lunch that day, until the email went out. I knew that it was going to be announced and I didn’t want to be too ostentatious and tell everyone so I just didn’t tell too many people.

Melissa: Mr. Coons actually saw me in the hallway and he stopped me and said, “Come see me in the office; don’t tell anyone.” I was like, okay — hopefully I’m not in trouble, cause it’s Mr. Coons. He told us the good news and he let us call our parents.

Did you think you were going to be valedictorians?

Nick: I expected sal.

Melissa: Honestly, I expected salutatorian. I think I took as many difficult classes as I could and I challenged myself as much as possible so I knew that some good news would be on the horizon.

How did the two of you beat out the seven others, do you think?

Nick: Most of the vals and sals have 4.0s.

Melissa: It’s based on a variety of factors like breadth of course, GPA, sometimes they’ll resort to standardized testing like SATs and AP exam scores.

Nick: It’s really interesting. Of course after they name vals and sals we try to evaluate why people didn’t get val or why people didn’t get sal. There’s a kid in our first period, Brandon, that has basically the same or better credentials than I do.

Nick: In my mom’s day, I guess it was a lot easier (to figure out). She was the val of South Kitsap (High) back in the 1970s. She was the only person with a 4.0 So she got val, obviously.

So you both have 4.0s?

Both: Yes.

Nick: Well, actually I had an A- in ninth grade health and I re-took it. I re-took the whole course (during the summer).

So you didn’t expect you would get valedictorian but you thought you’d get something?

Nick: There are actually a lot of really qualified people.

Melissa: There are, you just didn’t know how they would rank us.

So you both have taken Advanced Placement classes to get to this point… how many have you taken do you think?

Nick: At least 13, each. I’ve done band (every year). A lot of people say you should not be in band (if you want to get valedictorian) because it generally counts against you. But I guess, in this case it didn’t. I mean, I don’t have as many AP classes as (others).

Do you participate in any extra-curriculars?

Melissa: Yeah both of us are actually officers for National Honor Society.

Nick: We’re both in Honor Society, Key Club, and environmental club. I did Knowledge Bowl, but I don’t really do that much in school. I mostly do stuff out of school. I do band, marching band and pep band … and then I did Bremerton Youth Symphony. I’m an Eagle Scout. And I’m interning for the county.

Melissa: I do a lot of music too. I don’t play in orchestra anymore because I wanted to take more AP classes, but I still play piano and viola through my teachers and do yearly recitals and adjudications and whatnot. And then I volunteer for Harrison Hospital. I volunteered for Silverdale Chamber of Commerce last year.

Nick: I’m trying to get less busy, honestly. I guess as summer approaches you kind of … lethargy grows.

Speaking of summer, what are your plans after graduation?

Nick: We are the same … essentially. We’re both going to UW. A lot of us are. Four out of the nine are (going to UW).

Any idea what you want to study?

Nick: I want to do pre-med. I want to be a doctor. I got a scholarship for medicine … I think it would be cool to help people. Being doctor is a pretty cool career and there’s a lot of respect for that in our community.

Melissa: I want to do computer science and engineering … Maybe get involved in Engineers Without Borders because you hear a lot about Doctors Without Borders and there’s one for engineers.

Nick: Maybe I won’t even do pre-medicine. I don’t even know what I really necessarily want to do. But that seems interesting right now.

Melissa: I feel like we say we have plans but it’s always going to change and things are going to happen.

Did you have any favorite classes here?

Melissa: Actually, I did. Well, you’d think that I would really like the maths and sciences, and I do, but I found that I actually have an affinity for social sciences … who knows, I might do something with that in the future.

Nick: Me too actually, and I like literature, too, actually. Our literature teacher (Paul West) is the nicest guy I’ve ever met. He’s so supportive of his students.

Melissa: Everyone would agree … Nothing but positive toward his students.

Nick: There’s a lot of teachers actually like that. There are a lot of teachers that are really good and really, really nice.

Any classes you guys didn’t like?


Nick: There’s positives in everything.

Let’s reframe the question. Were there any classes you didn’t fall in love with right away?

Nick: Physics! I was horrible with physics. I had to work so hard in Physics. That was my hardest class, for sure. Physics was really challenging for me.

Melissa: Yeah, for me, too. It was probably the hardest class I’ve taken in high school.

So it wasn’t that you didn’t like it, just that it was a tough class.

Both: Yeah.

Nick: It’s hard to dislike classes when the teachers are so passionate about it.

So are you excited to leave, or are you sad to see it end here?

Melissa: I think I’m going to miss the people, but it’s nice to have something fresh. College is completely different, or so I’ve heard.

Nick: I think that I’m going to miss how much the teachers care, and the personal attention.

Any particular teacher or counselor you want to thank on your way out?

Nick: Well, there’s a lot of teachers that are so good.

Melissa: Just list all of them!

Fair enough.

Nick: I think CK probably above anything else … they seek you out and they try to make you be successful … They provide a lot of advantages and a lot of opportunities. And I think that’s really unique, more than a lot of high schools.

So … do you each have to give a speech?

Melissa: We hold a joint speech. We’ve been working on it together. We kind of play off each other.

So how’s it coming?

Nick: We’ve both been pretty busy. We have a first draft, but it’s two minutes long and it’s supposed to be three. So it’s a little shorter than we’d like — and it’s not as funny.

We actually had our first joke, our first good joke yesterday.

(For the sake of spoilers, and national security, the joke has been redacted from these interview notes. I guess, you’ll have to go to the graduation to hear the humor).

We’re still trying to figure it out, but hopefully it’s going to be funny and short because I think that’s what people want honestly.

Any closing statements?

Nick: I’ve tried to work really hard in high school and I think that’s more important than aptitude. It’s like determination.

Melissa: I think it’s really about taking the opportunities to do things that you don’t think you would do. And the teachers are all there for you. The counselors, administrators, everyone is there to help you and I feel like every students should just take advantage of that.