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Academic wanderer, also valedictorian, finds home at South Whidbey Academy

Anthony Banks and Colleen Klock take a break from classes at South Whidbey Academy in the alternative school’s last few weeks of the school year. Banks, a fifth-year senior, is the student choice class speaker at the graduation June 17. Klock is the school’s valedictorian with a 3.98 grade point average.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Anthony Banks and Colleen Klock take a break from classes at South Whidbey Academy in the alternative school’s last few weeks of the school year. Banks, a fifth-year senior, is the student choice class speaker at the graduation June 17. Klock is the school’s valedictorian with a 3.98 grade point average.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Attending eight schools in 13 years of schooling is quite a feat.

Colleen Klock tried various academic arenas, public, private, charter and home school. None really clicked. Then her family moved to Clinton where she found Bayview School, the South Whidbey School District’s former alternative high school.

“I’m a curious person,” said Klock, 18. “I like to try out different things.”

The Michigan native quickly grew fond of her new home. For one, she no longer braves “freezing cold winter.” Instead she gets to walk through the woods around her Clinton home, even in the rain.

“I love the rain,” Klock said.

Whidbey Island provided Klock, a hobby painter, with abundant inspiration for landscapes and nature. An older population on the South End gave her ideas for other paintings and photographs of elderly men, like her long lost favorite painting of an old sailor which she credited to illustrations in “Father Twilight,” a book she read in her earlier youth.

Learning at the academy was a profound experience for her. She was able to connect with her peers. Even if she was in an independent study course, she was in a classroom with other students, fulfilling her social needs.

She credited her mother and stepfather, Diane and Stephen McLean, for her high grade standards, which is modest compared to how she describes her academic tendencies.

“I’m a total perfectionist,” she said, adding advice to other students entering the high school program. “Working hard really pays off.” Ben Watanabe / The Record | Colleen Klock enjoys the sun at South Whidbey Academy before heading off on the school’s Rite of Passage trip. The school’s valedictorian finished with a 3.98 grade point average.

Flawlessness went out the window in the contemporary world issues class she had with Eddie Mulcahy last year at Bayview. She enjoyed the discussions and debates of current issues and the writing assignments. Speaking publicly, however, was a challenge for the soft-spoken Klock.

“I’ve gotten a lot more grounded, less naive but also more excited about life,” she said.

The schedule and atmosphere allowed her to thrive in several areas. She did not take classes on Fridays this year, and instead worked at the South Whidbey Commons, volunteered with Good Cheer and pursued her artistic endeavors of painting and photography. The latter produced her favorite photograph, a close-up image of moss that’s “very glowy and green.”

The four-day school week also let Klock walk through the woods of the Dorothy Cleveland Trail and others on Whidbey.

“I think I’ve walked every park on Whidbey Island,” she said.

Klock has no plans to return to Michigan. She will enroll at Evergreen State College to pursue a degree in art history.

 

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