BREMERTON, Washington —
Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility’s Apprentice School graduated 236 students Oct. 16, in a ceremony unlike any other in the school’s 119-year history. Held in Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton’s “F Lot,” students received their diplomas and other graduation materials via a drive-through tunnel in observation of COVID-19 protective measures. Students and presenters were masked and the mobile format allowed for a socially-distanced celebration.
The class of 2020 represents 25 unique trades and maintained an overall class GPA of 3.815. Each graduate received their certificates as journey-level mechanics in their respective trades, as well as an associate’s degree in technical arts from Olympic College. Graduation packets also included an invitation to enjoy a virtual commencement ceremony, which featured videos addresses from PSNS &IMF Commander Capt. Dianna Wolfson and class speaker Ethan Beck.
“I know it has not been easy as you balanced classes amidst fluctuating workloads, increased family care needs and personal health concerns,” said Wolfson in her congratulatory video message to graduates. “But I appreciate your efforts. Your efforts matter to the future of our shipyard. You are truly making a difference and are one of the reasons PSNS & IMF has continued to meet the mission in the face of the COVID-19. Thank you! “
Beck, an electronics mechanic, reflected on his experience and offered thanks to family and friends during his virtual remarks, which were viewed by classmates on their mobile devices.
“I have spent a lot of time reflecting on the last four years, about exactly why I felt compelled to apply for the program,” said Beck. “There are three main things that resonated clear. I want to make change. I take pride in my work. I love my country. I know this year’s graduation is a little different than years past but I can confidently say the support of friends and family has been meaningful for all of us.”
In addition to the class speaker, four other graduates received honors for their achievements. Awards were presented to students in the enclosed graduation tunnel constructed by Shop 99, the Temporary Services Shop.
Beauregard Burki, a thermal insulator, was named the Apprentice of the Year by the program’s administration.
Jessica Ekonomakis, a marine electrician, received the Scholastic Award from the Federal Manager’s Association with a 4.0 GPA, the highest grade in her program.
Dane Bargerstock, an electronics mechanic, received the Apprentice Craftsman Award from the Assistant Production Superintendent’s Association.
Andrew Rogers, a temporary services electrician, received the Leadership Award from the National Association of Superintendents.
The PSNS & IMF Apprentice Program was established in 1901, when the Shipyard Labor Board selected six men to train under-skilled craftsmen at the facility. The school has grown to become an award-winning program focused on advanced training for members of the shipyard workforce. Since 1950, PSNS & IMF has partnered with Olympic College for customized, accredited course work in support of the Apprentice Program.