Change leads to positives for Bremerton School District in 2008
January 1, 2009 · Updated 9:21 PM
At times it seemed like the sky was falling on the Bremerton School District (BSD) in 2008.
But by year’s end, it was clear to see that not only did the district overcome many challenges, it soared to success as a result.
The district managed to turn around a lawsuit filed by Disability Rights of Washington on behalf of the parents of children with developmental disabilities who were left without a place to go when Bremerton Junior High School closed in 2007. Last month, the district unveiled a sparkling new learning facility at Bremerton High School (BHS) made just for them.
The portable building near the tennis courts at BHS was the culmination of 18 months of work by the district, the Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction, the Department of Social and Health Services and all those who work with students with disabilities.
“This shows that these students are important enough for us to put our differences away and use our resources to serve these children,” BSD Director of Special Education Bob Hamilton said.
He credited BSD Superintendent Bette Hyde with working hard to ensure the project came to completion because she views special education “as a calling.”
Class of 2008 changing attitudes
Bremerton High School seniors Carolyn Jewett and Regina Ogazi epitomized the changing face of the school in many ways, which in the past had a less than stellar reputation. It is now in the midst of taking its place among the best not only in Kitsap County, but the entire state of Washington.
As the valedictorian, Jewett shined brightly in the classroom, but she was active in the community at-large as well, donating countless hours to help others in need.
“I’m proud to graduate from BHS because I got the opportunity to explore my career options and go to Olympic College as well attend regular classes,” she said.
The faculty and staff at BHS were instrumental in encouraging every student to succeed in their chosen endeavors, she said.
“It’s been a great four years,” said the Washington State freshman, who was one of only 25 students statewide to be named a WSU Distinguished Regents Scholar, receiving a scholarship worth $60,000.
As salutatorian, Regina Ogazi made quite a name for herself during her four years at BHS as she and her twin sister, Dominica Ogazi, were featured on PBS last year for their cake-making business.
“I’ve worked very hard to get here and I’ve had a lot of support along the way,” said Regina Ogazi, who attends Seattle Pacific University and took with her a bevy of scholarships from numerous organizations.
The stringent graduation requirements, including the completion of a senior project and the compilation of a portfolio have adequately prepared the entire class for the challenges which lie ahead in the future, she said.
When people have asked what school she attends, Ogazi said her answer has always simply been “Bremerton High School,” without hesitation, although the responses haven’t exactly been all smiles.
“It’s changed so much and it’s a really good school,” Ogazi said, adding that she hopes the majority of the public will take notice of the positives the school has and not dwell on the past.
Mountain View Middle School unveiled
The dedication ceremony at Mountain View Middle School in East Bremerton in February not only marked the official opening of new facilities, but the completion of more than two-and-a-half years of hard work and sacrifice by all those involved in the project.
“This has been a two- to two-and-a-half-year process for many of us,” MVMS principal Jerry Willson said as he was joined by deputy principal Michaeleen Gelhaus and assistant principals Scott Demianiw and Mary Tierney at the podium.
It took a great team effort to make the dreams for the new facilities to become realities as construction was completed in December 2007, Willson said.
“If you want to accomplish your dream, you have to build your team,” Willson said. “I think we’ve done that with this project.”
The project involved upgrades to the main building including the library, computer lab, counseling center and the creation of fitness center and locker rooms for both sexes, and the construction of a new sixth-grade building complete with classrooms, a music room, computer lab and gym.
Hyde decides to stay on as interim superintendent
Just months after announcing her retirement in April, Hyde was rehired as the district’s interim superintendent after much debate by the school board on how to proceed in finding Hyde’s successor. The board will meet on Jan. 8 to continue its discussions about how to proceed.