During a commencement ceremony filled with laughter and tears, River City Academy awarded high school diplomas to its largest graduating class Monday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.
River City Academy, a Kenai Peninsula Borough School District school, offers a performance-based curriculum or students in grades seven through 12. Nine students were awarded diplomas Monday.
“The whole school is like a giant family,” said Sterling Stasak following his emotional valedictory speech. He said he appreciated the school’s comfortable atmosphere.
“The students are really nice, the teachers are really nice. It’s a welcoming environment,” he said.
Stasak has plans to continue his studies at Kenai Peninsula College before heading to the University of Alaska Fairbanks to pursue an engineering degree in the computer field.
Stasak had one piece of advice for his fellow students: “Keep up the work ethic.”
Steven Waggoner said he has plenty of work to keep himself occupied now that he’s completed his classes.
“I’ve had a job since I started high school. I work at The Moose is Loose for my grandparents,” Waggoner said.
He plans to take some vocational courses in welding and carpentry, but also would like to study psychology. He said he appreciated River City’s unique classroom environment.
“I thought it was strange at first,” he said. “Everyone here is accepting of whatever culture you have, as long as you’re nice about it.”
“It’s a lot different than traditional schools,” said Jordan Smythe, describing the school as tight-knit and very welcoming.
“Another great thing about this school is the freedom and creativity we have,” Smythe said.
Smythe said she was more adept in English and language arts, and would be taking courses at Kenai Peninsula College next fall. For the summer, she’ll be headed to Florida to work for her uncle who trains Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Kyndra Quiner transferred to River City for her senior year of high school. She counted creating homecoming sashes and participating in dance programs among her high school highlights, and hopes to continue to follow her creativity as a seamstress and clothing designer.
“I’ve got a lot of self-learning to do,” she said.
In the mean time, she has a part-time job at Odie’s Deli, and her boss is trying to persuade her to take a full-time position.
Quiner said she doesn’t feel like the excitement of graduation has sunk in just yet.
“I don’t think the excitement will hit until the start of the next school year — when we’re not going to class,” Quiner said.
Class of 2015
Timothy Edward Dunn
Ashton Don Mahan
Kyndra Shea Quiner
Daniel James Shuler
Jordan Danielle Smythe
Sterling Turner Stasak,
Micah Renny Sterling
Steven James Waggoner
Zoe Jessica Zorn, Salutatorian