SK celebrates newest high school graduates

While the roof of the Tacoma Dome kept out things like the persistent mists and showers of the day, it simply could not contain the joy of South Kitsap High School’s newest graduates, along with their families and friends.

Over 400 seniors received their diplomas at the graduation ceremony June 10, earning the distinction of forever being a SKHS alumni and a ticket to the next phase in life.

“Celebrate; soak it in,” superintendent Tim Winter said as he accepted the 2023 graduating class. “Take time to just relax and enjoy this moment, and then go forward knowing you’re all great, you’re all loved, and best of all, you’re all South Kitsap High School graduates.”

The experience for the students was like a bad sandwich, the meat of which was largely spoiled by the coronavirus pandemic, leaving the surrounding freshman and senior years to soak in any sense of normalcy. But perhaps it was that extra challenge on top of the typical high school dilemmas that made the accomplishment that much sweeter to students like Carmen Buschbacher.

“This right here is for all the nights that we stayed up crying at the table with our guardians because we couldn’t figure out those math problems in elementary school, and somehow we thought those were the hardest math problems,” she said in her address before her fellow graduates. “But looking back on our childhood selves, can you imagine how proud of us they would be today?”

SK’s valedictorians were Lily Fachner, Marissa Jackman and Breanna Viergutz, and the class salutatorian was Ripley Elberfeld. It was the latter who would share the most emotion in a speech given by the four of them.

Elberfeld captured the pride and somberness of the moment saying: “I’ll miss you guys. I truly will because here today are my first friends. I hope you found some goodness from your time here. You’ll all hold a special place in my heart, and you still have a million places to go and a million things to experience.”

Now before the class lies a multitude of roads leading to college, military service, work lives and many more possibilities. SKHS principal Dave Goodwin challenged them to counter the unrealistic, unhealthy views of today’s world by seeking out opportunities to make a difference, no matter their path. “It may sound small at first, but each one of us can make a positive difference in the lives of those we interact with each and every day, and together, these actions of kindness can collectively make a huge difference in the world.”

Graduate Elisabeth Nucci performs, "Who Could Ask For More," bringing a fair share of people to tears.