Eight students have received diplomas from Ninilchik School. Family, friends and community members showed up Monday night in the school’s gym to cheer for the graduating seniors.
The eight students walked into the gym promptly at 7 p.m. The four boys and four girls moved toward the front of the crowd in pairs and took seats on either side of the aisle. Cameras and Kleenex were already making appearances. Senior David Bear was the first speech of the night with his Salutatorian address. He thanked his family and community, and spoke about his grandmother who had passed away last year.
“It was you that raised us, fed us, clothed us, played with us and made us laugh. In the process, you taught us something that cannot be found in any text book… love,” he said.
Class Valedictorian Kaylee Smith was next up. She talked about specific teachers over the years and all the struggles and triumphs for her class.
“The past four years have been a rollercoaster with sharp turns, loops and deep drops into darkness. But through it all, this class has learned to overcome and take giant leaps over the obstacles they had to encounter,” she said.
Smith’s speech also focused on what lies ahead for each graduate: speech therapist, pediatric dentist, youth minister and pediatric nurse are a few of the future careers. Before the diplomas were given out, various organizations awarded students with scholarships.
By far the largest award of the night was the Erling Kwaznikof College Education Scholarship. This was the second year it was given out. One student receives $25,000 over the span of four years. It’s meant for a senior who likely wouldn’t go to college without the support. The scholarship went to David Bear.
“I’m very, very happy that I got the scholarship. That’s a big chunk of money… that’s going to pay for a lot,” Bear said.
Bear plans to study computer science at the University of Alaska Anchorage in the fall. He said his mom, who also is a Ninilchik School graduate, isn’t quite ready for him to leave, but he’s excited about getting to college. Bear also is a musician who wrote and played the music for the senior slideshow that was featured during the ceremony.
“I play guitar and I sing, and I’m learning how to play piano right now. I’m hoping to go up there and get really involved with the community at the school and play with the other musicians there while also studying the field of computer science. I’m hoping somewhere down the road I can supplement my music with my computer aptitude,” he said.
After all the scholarships were handed out, each student made their way on stage to accept their diploma from Principal Jeff Ambrosier. He has been at the school for the last two years. Ambrosier said even in that short time, he’s gotten to know the students well.
“Each one of them has a… totally different personality and so it’s a great feeling to see what they’re going to do. And hopefully the success they’re going to have in the future,” he said.
Whatever the kids do in the days ahead, I’m sure they’ll keep their class motto in mind: “To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.”