SKHS becomes ‘Rock ’n’ Roll High School’

South Kitsap High School hosted its own little Port Orchard Idol event with an audience-judged Battle of the Bands last week.

Five groups made up of students from the high school performed in genres ranging from reggae to Hawaiian folk. But the jam rock band Rhetoric, which includes seniors Riley Kennedy-Keyes and Forrest Freed, junior Byron Thomas, and South Kitsap graduate Kendall Galbraith, earned the win after a close race with Dat Fiah.

Rhetoric’s lead singer Riley Kennedy-Keyes said the band fuses a number of different genres, including punk, jazz and 1960s rock. He said he’s personally influenced by the Grateful Dead. Their 25-minute set displayed the various styles they play.

“It’s just a big accumulation of what we’ve done over the last four years,” Kennedy-Keyes said.

Indeed, the music uploaded to the bands Web site,, shows the bands wide musical palate. A single song jumps from a quiet guitar solo introduction to a loud and dark stomp, bridging to jazzier moods.

This is the second and last Battle of the Bands for Rhetoric. They won the first year of the competition, but with Kennedy-Keyes heading off to California, Rhetoric as it is known today will be no more.

“It kind of went full circle from our first year of Battle of the Bands, when we won,” Kennedy-Keyes said. “It was a good feeling.”

And a good way to end, he said, competing with bands drawing from a wide variety of music genres.

“I think this was the best show,” he said. “There was a really good mix of music.”

In previous years, a panel of judges picked the winner, but this year the 450-person audience voted by dropping their ticket stubs into a can designated for each band.

The other competitors included reggae group Dat Fiah, Hawaiian folk group Jumaane & Alysha, glam-metal group Beneath All Kaos and alternative group Super Heroes in Training.

The concert served as a fund raiser to offset the cost of the seniors’ prom. Kitsap Screen Printing designed and produced t-shirts for the event. The money raised from the sale of the t-shirts also went towards the prom.

At the end of the night, the event raised more than $2,500. Prom costs around $15,000 to put on, and events like these help lower the individual ticket cost of the students, said Lyssandra Ness, faculty advisor to the class of 2007.

On March 25, the school will host another fundraising event — Mr. SK. This year, 17 South Kitsap male seniors compete for the title of Mr. SK.

The class is working on raising funds for a class gift and graduation.

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