Class of 2024 Graduate Spotlights
Class of 2024 Graduate Spotlights
Posted on 06/24/2024
Class of 2024 Graduate SpotlightsWe interviewed six graduates from each of our four senior classes who not only were impressive representatives for their schools and communities, but also had amazing stories to tell. 

Each graduate took their own path to finding their passion and achieving their dreams! 

Click on the blue accordions below to read more about each featured graduate's story.

Graphic that reads: "Central Kitsap Schools Graduate Spotlight Hannah Glance Barker Creek Community School

Hannah's Story

Hannah wasn’t sure she’d ever graduate after some struggles early in her high school career. Then, she gave birth to her daughter at 16 years old. 

Not only did she find a sense of community at Barker Creek Community School and turn her grades around, she finished her high school degree with the Barker Creek Virtual Academy while caring for her daughter. She has matured into a good student and a caring mother over the past couple of years. 

Hannah has a passion for children, and after graduation, she hopes to pursue an early childhood education degree at Olympic College while continuing to work at Treetop Village Campus and Infant Center. 

Q&A

What is your favorite memory in CK Schools?

Meeting her best friend Lexi at Barker Creek. “I was so nervous I wouldn’t make any friends at Barker Creek and felt so relieved when she came up to me and said we should be friends.” 

What is your greatest accomplishment in CK Schools?

“Graduating and having my daughter.” 

What was the greatest challenge you faced in getting to graduation, and how did you overcome it?

“My mental health challenges and finding the determination to graduate.” She credits the staff at Barker Creek and her support system for helping her find the determination to overcome her adversity. 

Where will you be in 20 years? 

“Hopefully on a farm. Maybe with some cows. But in all seriousness, I want to provide a good life for my daughter.” 
"Central Kitsap Schools Graduate Spotlight Kiyomi McKenzie, Olympic High School”

Kiyomi's Story

Ever since she was an elementary student at Brownsville, Kiyomi strived to be involved. Whether it was being a self manager or helping out the lunch room staff, Kiyomi was driven to put herself out there. 

Her attitude didn’t waver at Olympic. Kiyomi was the ASB executive vice president as a senior and was a member of the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) club. She proved herself to be a capable leader and a good student. Athletically, she played golf, basketball, and soccer at Olympic. Kiyomi was recognized for her contributions at graduation, received the "senior of the year" award.

She will attend Olympic College next year and will study sonography, fulfilling her dream of working in healthcare. 

Q&A

What is your favorite memory in CK Schools? 

The Camp Colman trip in fifth grade. “I loved it because we could just be a kid.” 

What is your greatest accomplishment in CK Schools?

Growing as a person and getting out of her shell to make friends and build communities after COVID.

What was the greatest challenge you faced in getting to graduation, and how did you overcome it?

Overcoming anxiety from grades, as well as mental health struggles. “There was a time where I could focus on myself and come together to overcome those struggles whether it was school work, grades, or even something little that bothered me.” 

Where will you be in 20 years? 

“I really want to travel, so hopefully I’ll have a stable job to travel where I want to or have a family and live around here.” 
Graphic that reads: "Central Kitsap Schools Graduate Spotlight Landon Nicholson Olympic High School

Landon's Story

Landon takes being a student athlete seriously. Late night bus rides and a demanding practice schedule never deterred Landon from getting his coursework done. 

Landon played varsity baseball as a first baseman and left-handed pitcher and played varsity football for three years as an offensive center at Olympic while completing a demanding course load. Outside the lines, Landon was involved in the National Honor Society and the National Honor Society of Sports Medicine. 

Landon plans on continuing his baseball career at Olympic College with the hopes of transferring to a four-year college, ideally for baseball. “I realized baseball was more important to me than I thought and I wasn’t ready to give up baseball.” Academically, Landon hopes to pursue a career in athletic training thanks to inspiration from former Olympic High School athletic trainer Scott Peck. 

Q&A

What is your favorite memory in CK Schools? 

Being around the people, bus rides going to sports games, and the Friday night lights for football games. 

What is your greatest accomplishment in CK Schools?

Athletically: Being eligible while varsity lettering. Academically: Being involved in National Honor Society and Sports Med clubs. 

What was the greatest challenge you faced in getting to graduation, and how did you overcome it?

Senioritis and finding perspective in his classes. He overcame it by realizing that things are “important because they are important now.” 

Where will you be in 20 years? 

“I would love to say that I'd be finishing out a great MLB career and truly reaching that dream, but if not, I definitely hope to be somewhere in the workforce in something like athletic training or physical therapy, somewhere along those lines.” 
 Graphic that reads: "Central Kitsap Schools Graduate Spotlight Blake Herdman, Central Kitsap High School”

Blake's Story

It wouldn’t be unusual to see Blake perusing “Baseball Savant,” Major League Baseball’s advanced statistics website, in his free time. 

An avid baseball fan, and a first baseman and pitcher for two years on the CK varsity baseball team, Blake also excelled as a student and was a member of Key Club. During COVID, Blake picked up golf and is excited to continue playing that sport into adulthood. 

Blake is heading for warmer weather next year, as he’s attending Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona, to study sports business. 

Q&A

What is your favorite memory in CK Schools? 

Making friends through high school baseball. 

What is your greatest accomplishment in CK Schools?

“Passing all my classes. That was a big goal for me coming into high school and in middle school. I got it done.”

What was the greatest challenge you faced in getting to graduation, and how did you overcome it?

“Getting assignments in on time because I’m a big procrastinator. I just kept thinking about how I only have three more months, two more months until graduation to get over that hump.” 

Where will you be in 20 years? 

“Hopefully having a job or working for a Major League Baseball team, hopefully as a statistician or as an analyst.”

 Graphic that reads: "Central Kitsap Schools Graduate Spotlight Micaela Lueck Klahowya Secondary Schools”

Michaela's Story

Joining Running Start was viewed as a risk in the eyes of many, according to Michaela. On top of that, Michaela sought an Associates of Science, an even more daunting challenge. 

Despite some doubts, Michaela was a 4.0 student in Running Start and a three-sport athlete at Klahowya in volleyball, basketball, and softball, the latter of which advanced to the state tournament in her senior year. Outside of school and sports, she loves spending time with her friends. 

She has already graduated from Olympic College with her Associate of Science degree. She will attend Washington State University in Pullman in the Fall. She is majoring in biology with the goal of becoming a veterinarian because of her love for animals. 

Q&A

What is your favorite memory in CK Schools? 

“All of the different friends I’ve made at Klahowya from sixth grade. Since it’s such a small school, your whole grade ends up being your friend. It’s such a small school and everyone knows everyone, you’re all interconnected somehow. It’s just a nice community that I’ve made here.” 

What is your greatest accomplishment in CK Schools?

Graduating with both her high school diploma and Associate of Science. “There were some times I wondered if the doubters were right and I couldn’t do it. … but I’m glad I stuck with it.” 

What was the greatest challenge you faced in getting to graduation, and how did you overcome it?

Doing Running Start. “I could manage the hard classes, but I would say more of the backlash I received from doing Running Start from some people.” She overcame it by remaining confident in herself. 

Where will you be in 20 years? 

“Hopefully I’ll be a veterinarian by that point … hopefully I’ve either gone to Europe or moved to Europe at that point. Most importantly I want to be happy and fulfilled.” 
Graphic that reads: "Central Kitsap Schools Graduate Spotlight Adam Dudder Klahowya Secondary School

Adam's Story

Adam loves his friends and he loves Klahowya. So when an opportunity to intern in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard’s work study program was presented to Adam, he was conflicted because it meant he wouldn’t be in-person for classes in his last semester at Klahowya. However, Adam decided to go through with the internship and he’s put himself in a position to succeed after high school while still maintaining his social life to the best of his abilities.

Adam is an active member of the Klahowya community, most notably his involvement in choir and boys soccer. Adam won a choral achievement award for being involved in choir his entire Klahowya career and was named a soccer captain in his first year on varsity. Outside of school, Adam enjoys playing soccer, hiking, and spending time outside with his friends. 

After high school, Adam plans to continue working at the PSNS while also finishing his associate degree at Olympic College. After that, he hopes to transfer to Western Washington University and study physics and mathematics in addition to completing his teaching certifications to someday become a teacher. He said the staff at Klahowya inspired him to teach when he was older, but especially his English teacher, Ms. Tresch, who made a profound impression on him despite teaching one of his least favorite subjects. 

Q&A

What is your favorite memory in CK Schools?

Crowd surfing at junior year homecoming, meeting new people, and making good friends while participating in school musicals, specifically “Newsies.” 

What is your greatest accomplishment in CK Schools?

“Getting to lead the boys to state (for soccer) for the first time in a long time for our school, that was pretty cool.” 

What was the greatest challenge you faced in getting to graduation, and how did you overcome it?

“COVID was the most difficult challenge I had to go through. It killed my social life and took me out of the swing of learning. My work ethic was not as strong as it was. … I took some challenging classes that provided a reality check and had some awesome teachers willing to work with me and support me. They were very understanding and willing to accommodate the learning curve.” 

Where will you be in 20 years? 

“I hope to be living the happiest life that I can possibly be living. I hope to have a family and I hope to be successful in any field I decide to go to, but I especially hope to be a teacher.” 
"Central Kitsap Schools Graduate Spotlight Jadon Branner Barker Creek Community School”

Jadon's Story

Jadon traveled around the country doing what he loves: dance. 

He did so while completing his coursework in Barker Creek’s Virtual Academy and graduated this past spring. He juggled his demanding ballet schedule and his school work admirably to ensure he received a high school diploma while working toward his ultimate dream. 

Jadon started at the Cary Ballet Conservatory in Cary, North Carolina, on full scholarship in 2023, and he’ll continue there next year with the hopes of auditioning for a professional ballet company in the spring.  

Q&A

What is your favorite memory in CK Schools? 

“My favorite memories (I have many) are from the years I spent at Emerald Heights Elementary, enjoying a very positive environment (thank you staff and teachers) and great times with friends.  Early adolescence is a time filled with so many new experiences and I'll always look back and be grateful for my time there.”

What is your greatest accomplishment in CK Schools?

“I think there are many students like myself who feel that just graduating is a huge accomplishment.  Academics is not one of my strengths and there were times when I really struggled.  Being able to attend Barker Creek was a huge help though and with the support of Mrs. Zuber and Mr. Menefee I was able to meet my high school requirements without being restricted to the traditional high school student schedule, giving me the flexibility I needed to succeed.”

What was the greatest challenge you faced in getting to graduation, and how did you overcome it?

“Math in general, but Algebra specifically, was very challenging for me.  With a lot of work, focus and extra time spent with my dad, I managed to get through it.  I never felt more relieved to finish any other class.”

Where will you be in 20 years? 

Assuming I get accepted into a professional company in the next couple of years, I'm hoping that 20 years from now I'll still be dancing ballet, maybe in the US or maybe in Europe, and still enjoying the thrill of performing on stage.  I also see myself teaching ballet, to pass on my knowledge and love of dance.” 
Graphic that reads: "Central Kitsap Schools Graduate Spotlight Kris Thatcher Klahowya Secondary School.”

Kris' Story

Kris never lets her disabilities get in her way of achieving her dreams. Kris gets sick easily, and the rigors of the school day can be especially taxing. But, she never let her disabilities get in their way of achieving her dreams.

Despite all of that, Kris is set to graduate with a respectable GPA and left a mark on Klahowya as a strong communicator and leader. Kris was heavily involved in Klahowya’s American Sign Language (ASL) program and was recognized as one of the department’s winners at Klahowya’s senior awards. Kris is also a leader in Klahowya’s Gay Straight Alliance. Outside of school, Kris enjoys art and painting and works part-time. 

Kris plans on spending two years at Olympic College before transferring to Western Washington University in Bellingham to study environmental studies. Above all else, she’s motivated to show other people with her circumstances that high achievement is possible. 

Q&A

What is your favorite memory in CK Schools? 

Going to her fourth grade teacher Ms. Thomas’ farm on a field trip. “I just remember having so much fun on that field trip.” 

What is your greatest accomplishment in CK Schools?

In general, learning how to deal and grow with her circumstances. 

What was the greatest challenge you faced in getting to graduation, and how did you overcome it?

Kris’ disabilities were her greatest challenge. “Pushing through and proving to people that just because I get sick easily or because I am disabled or I am deaf, it doesn’t make me less of a person. Just telling myself ‘I can do things,’ or, ‘I can get through this.’ just those motivational things.” 

Where will you be in 20 years? 

“I feel like I’m going to have my bachelor’s degree, working in wildlife biology, just making the world a better place.”
 Graphic that reads: "Central Kitsap Schools Graduate Spotlight Alexia Kurtzbein Olympic High School.”

Alexia's Story

When Alexia was a third grader at Brownsville Elementary, she was enamored with all of the technology and STEM offerings. She also had a passion for music and playing the violin. 

Next year, she’ll have the chance to combine those two passions at Western Washington University, where she will double major in computer science and violin performance. 

At Olympic, Alexia took on a challenging schedule and utilized the STEM offerings provided. She also was an officer for Olympic’s National Honor Society chapter as well as being in Key Club. Outside of school, she was a violinist for the Tacoma Youth Symphony, where she rose as high as concertmaster. 

Q&A

What is your favorite memory in CK Schools? Why?


“My AP Classes, because it was in those classes I made friends with other people who, like me, really loved going beyond, outside the box, and trying new things. … It inspired me to push myself and improve.” 

What is your greatest accomplishment in CK Schools?

“Being vice president of the National Honor Society. I’ve been in that club since freshman year and I’ve put a lot of time, effort, and volunteer service into it. I think it was awesome that I got to be a part of the club leaders this year and be a part of running stuff and making sure people were being represented the way they wanted to be represented. I feel like I’m very proud of that.” 

What was the greatest challenge you faced in getting to graduation, and how did you overcome it?

“Involving myself in social communities. … I saw groups of people who looked like they knew what they were doing and were super involved and knew all of these people. I felt very shy. I wanted to be a leader but it was hard because I didn’t feel like I was very social and outgoing. I felt like that got better over time and I worked really hard to be someone who is confident and has the qualities of a leader. It’s something I’m still working on and I feel like it’s important to have those skills.” 

Where will you be in 20 years? 

She hopes to follow in her father’s footsteps and find a secure job working for the federal government, ideally in cyber security. 
Graphic that reads: "Central Kitsap Schools Graduate Spotlight Yahir Eleeyse Greenlaw Central Kitsap High School”

Eleeyse's Story

By Eleeyse’s senior year, she was an expert with her planner. She was involved in so many activities, on top of her classes, that she even required two planners. 

Eleeyse was involved in Key Club, National Honor Society, Knowledge Bowl, Environmental Club, and CK High’s book club in addition to being a varsity cheerleader for each of her four years. Eleeyse was also named Miss Poulsbo in 2023 on the platform of protecting Kitsap’s parks and trails, and spent several hours cleaning and restoring outdoor spaces around the county. She is passionate about hiking and her goal is to visit every national park.
Eleeyse is attending the University of Montana next year and will major in elementary education with a minor in ecological restoration. Her dream is to teach during the school year and be a park ranger in the summer. 

Q&A

What is your favorite memory in CK Schools?

The NatureBridge trips in fourth and fifth grade. “Those were the highlights of elementary school.” 

What is your greatest accomplishment in CK Schools?

Becoming a distinguished scholar (18 semesters of AP or honors courses with no grades below a C) and becoming an AP scholar with distinction (4 or above on more than five exams). 

What was the greatest challenge you faced in getting to graduation, and how did you overcome it?

“Algebra 2, that was easily the hardest class I’ve ever taken. But I passed - barely. Overall, I learned to not give into hardships and remind yourself that there’s an end goal there.” 

Where will you be in 20 years?

“Teaching, family, maybe become a park ranger in the summer.” 
Graphic that reads: "Central Kitsap Schools Graduate Spotlight Phoebe Mejica Central Kitsap High School

Phoebe's Story

Phoebe finds joy in building community and helping others feel included. By graduation, Phoebe accumulated a whole lot of joy. 

In addition to being a diligent student, Phoebe was involved in Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) club, Future Health Professionals (HOSA), Key Club, and Environmental Club. She displayed a passion for fostering a welcoming environment and volunteering with those with similar passions. Phoebe also participated on the CK swimming team this past year – she said she wished she would have joined sooner. Outside of school, Phoebe enjoys art and gardening.   

After graduation, Phoebe plans to attend Olympic College for a year before transferring to a four-year university. She plans on pursuing a career in medicine. 

Q&A

What is your favorite memory in CK Schools?

“The small moments with the ethnic clubs here and building more community.” 

What is your greatest accomplishment in CK Schools?

Being involved with ethnic clubs and pushing herself out of her comfort zone to improve her social skills. 

What was the greatest challenge you faced in getting to graduation, and how did you overcome it?

“I had incredibly difficult conversations with some teachers that actually helped alleviate the stress of navigating school on my own as a first generation immigrant. The importance of building those connections and practice of self-advocacy makes it easier in the long run. Participating in clubs helped me find a sense of community and build upon those skills.”

Where will you be in 20 years? 

“I hope to still maintain my values that I’ve expressed here at school like helping others and advocating for others, and just sharing my culture because that’s really important for me.” 
Graphic that reads: "Central Kitsap Schools Graduate Spotlight Yahir Barragan, Klahowya Secondary School”

Yahir's Story

When Yahir first arrived at Jackson Park Elementary (now named John “Bud” Hawk Elementary at Jackson Park), he didn’t know any English. “I was scared to go to school everyday because I couldn’t communicate with anybody,” Yahir said. It took only three years in the English as a second language program (ESL) - now currently referred to as the multilingual education program - for Yahir to catch up to his peers. 

Yahir took on a demanding schedule and graduated with the Washington State Seal of Biliteracy, which recognizes students who attained an intermediate-to-mid proficiency in English and one or more world languages. He was an active member in the school’s DECA program and participated in the DECA state competition. Above all else, Yahir has stuck up for others, possesses a strong moral compass, and has a strong commitment to social justice. 

Next fall, Yahir is attending Western Washington University in Bellingham to pursue his teaching degree. He said the impact the Klahowya staff made on him, particularly Ms. Steedman and Mr. D'Arienzo, inspired him to become a high school teacher. 

Q&A

What is your favorite memory in CK Schools? 

Either the Olympics-themed field day at Jackson Park or talking and sharing music opinions with Ms. Steedman at Klahowya. 

What is your greatest accomplishment in CK Schools?

Qualifying for state for DECA. “I didn't expect it at all but I had received fourth place in my marketing communications topic. Going to Bellevue and being able to enjoy the city with my friends was a really memorable experience that I don't think I'll ever forget!”

What was the greatest challenge you faced in getting to graduation, and how did you overcome it?

“I used to get laughed at and teased because of my name and how it was hard to pronounce. I remember wishing when I was younger that I was white and had a normal name. (The teasing) wasn’t that bad, but it affected me a lot when I was younger. I remember wishing I had a normal skin color.

“It’s shaped the way I’ve grown up. I just don’t want other people to feel the same way I have … I became comfortable with who I am. Whenever I write down my name on essays or assignments, I write down ‘Yahir,’ because that’s just what I’m called. That’s my name. It’s nothing you should laugh at.” 

Where will you be in 20 years? 

“I’ll be teaching. I wouldn’t mind teaching in CKSD. I want to stay in the area, or at least the Pacific Northwest. I just want to be a good teacher for students.” 
Central Kitsap Schools Graduate Spotlight Sally Corder Central Kitsap High School

Sally's Story

When Sally was applying for colleges, she was hoping her next school would fit a couple of criteria: 1) outside of Washington and 2) near a beach. 

The first one is checked off. With her second, she didn’t get very close. 

Nonetheless, Sally is excited for her next chapter at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where she’ll be majoring in environmental science and running distance for the track team. It was a decision that seemed like fate for Sally – she applied to Baylor just hours before the deadline and was offered a spot on the track team after spontaneously bumping into the track coach during a tour of the campus. “Everything just came together … it just felt like the place to be.” 

Sally was a member of each of CK High’s girls cross country state championship teams her sophomore and junior years. She’s also the ASB secretary and involved in Key Club and National Honor Society in addition to being nearly a straight ‘A’ student. 

Q&A

What is your favorite memory in CK Schools?

“Winning state for cross country (in 2022 and 2023) was pretty exciting. Back-to-back was pretty cool.” 

What is your greatest accomplishment in CK Schools?

“The relationships I built throughout high school. I was incredibly blessed to have a great group of friends, awesome teachers, and I feel like I learned a lot about how to be a friend and how to be kind to people.” 

What was the greatest challenge you faced in getting to graduation, and how did you overcome it?

“Deciding on what I wanted to do after high school. I wanted to go to a four-year college. I love Washington, it’s such a beautiful state but I’ve lived here my whole life so I wanted to take an adventure out of Washington. I just looked all around and had so many different choices it was like, ‘Woah. This is overwhelming.’ ” 

“I had great teachers, parents, and coaches to help me out. That definitely challenged me a lot, and I didn’t think I’d end up in Texas, but I’m excited for that. … I just knew eventually everything would come together. Just take time, pray on it, allow others to give me their advice and their help.”

Where will you be in 20 years? 

“I hope to work in the field, maybe as an environmental scientist, and then become a teacher. Probably a first grade teacher, or maybe a kindergarten teacher. That would be the perfect life.” 
Graphic that reads: "Central Kitsap Schools Graduate Spotlight Franklin Morgan Klahowya Secondary School.”

Franklin's Story

When Franklin first started at Klahowya in sixth grade, being “perfect” was always on his mind. But his pursuit of perfection prevented him from taking risks. Some advice from his English teacher, Ms. Tresch, pushed him out of his comfort zone: “Don’t let failure hold you back.” 

Franklin took that advice and spread his wings academically, athletically, and socially. He maintained a 4.0 GPA while playing varsity football and baseball, which won the 1A state championship his junior year. He also competed for the Klahowya math team at the state competition this past spring. He’s spent hundreds of hours tutoring and mentoring fellow athletes and was an active member in ASB and National Honor Society. 

Next year, Franklin is attending Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, to study engineering. He is the first member of his family to attend college. 

Q&A

What is your favorite memory in CK Schools? 

Spending time with classmates outside of school, especially Camp Colman in elementary school and traveling for state competitions in high school. 

What is your greatest accomplishment in CK Schools?


Winning the state championship for baseball his junior year. “As a team it takes a lot of hard work to accomplish something like that. … Knowing that we had the capability of doing that and we were working toward that for a couple of years, I’m really proud we were able to accomplish that as a team.” 

What was the greatest challenge you faced in getting to graduation, and how did you overcome it?

“Being so involved, you can fit into a lot of different lifestyles. Being an athlete, an active person in your school in ASB, and academics, it was always hard trying to fit in each world. I think that was something I struggled with being able to do all of those simultaneously to the extent I wanted to. … Learning how to manage those and not letting one drag me down from the rest helped me a lot. Working through that was a lot of organization in myself and finding time within myself to accomplish everything.” 

Where will you be in 20 years?  

“I hope I can say I’m a successful engineer, hopefully in the renewable energy field. That’s kind of my plan. I’d like to work somewhere where I feel like I’m making a difference in the world and helping others. … I also hope I will have a family by then and be in a good spot there.” 
Graphic that reads "Central Kitsap Schools graduate spotlight Savannah Steele Barker Creek Community School"
More stories coming soon!