A Connections Homeschool graduate’s cap warns about the dangers of growing up at the program’s graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 24, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The program, administered through the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, graduated 58 students this year. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

A Connections Homeschool graduate’s cap warns about the dangers of growing up at the program’s graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 24, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The program, administered through the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, graduated 58 students this year. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Connections graduates move ahead

One of the hallmarks of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Connections Homeschool graduation is that many of the students graduating together are just meeting each other for the first time in the seats of the Soldotna High School Auditorium.

Standing on the risers in a room before the ceremony, some said they knew some of the other students there, others said they knew a number of them, while still others stayed quiet. Some of the graduates were walking with a sibling, and others came all the way from the Homer area to participate in the ceremony.

The graduation honored 58 graduates from the Connections program for 2018. Some of the students homeschooled for their entire lives, others only for part of their schooling, and all for a variety of reasons.

Principal Rich Bartolowits said that is one of the reasons he likes the Connections graduation ceremony.

“Being the principal of a homeschool program, that’s one of the reasons I like this ceremony so much,” he said during his introduction. “Sometimes this is the first time I meet some of these students. What we do during this graduation ceremony is say a little something about every graduate.”

Although the students studied at home, many were busy with extracurricular activities, including playing in the Soldotna High School band, writing music, working jobs or attending classes at Kenai Peninsula College through the JumpStart program.

Graduates Eli Stoll and Keri Ann Peek played a duet before the diplomas were presented. Stoll played the trombone with the SoHi band, and Peek accompanies the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra on the piano, among other performances. Both were designated valedictorians, though Peek said she didn’t find out until the last minute and didn’t give a speech.

Stoll said he plans to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks for chemical engineering, while Peek said she is heading to Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, to study musical performance.

“I can’t wait,” she said.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at eearl@peninsulaclarion.com.

Connections Homeschool class of 2018

Central Peninsula

Anna Aley

Randall Anderson

Kimberly Bales

Bailey Balzer

Zoe Bell

Olivia Botirius

Gemma Burke

Victoria Cannady

Laura-Ellis Churchill

Hailey Demello

Shania Dement

Kendra Denney

Caleb Frederickson

Jay Frost

Joanna Grant

Matthew Hagel

Talon Hagen

Bailey Horne

Samuel Hudson-Knowlton

Ashley Jones

Blake Jones

Bradley Kishbaugh

Janet LaBreck

Brittany Lea

Levi Mese

Taylor Miller

Mikala Mudrick

Victoria Noel

Virginia Noel

Keri Ann Peek

Benjamin Pollard

Michaella Renfro

Maksim Rytikov

Olga Rytikova

Stephanie Saenz

Joel Sisson

Tona Smardo

Kendra Stevenson

Elijah Stoll

Kailyn Tachick

Amber Toney

Destiny Wilson

Madison Worth

William Yoder

Homer

Randall E. Anderson

John Darlington Clutts

Tristen J. Cook

Griffin Downey

Noah James Duncan

Leanida Polushkin

Caleb Rauch

Tyroan Rediske

Domentian Reutov

Sara N. Stuart

Kirkland Tucker

Sariah Whaley

Bradly C. Wythe

Connections Homeschool graduate Keri Ann Peek finishes a piano piece during a student performance at the program’s graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 24, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The program, administered by the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, graduated 58 students this year. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Connections Homeschool graduate Keri Ann Peek finishes a piano piece during a student performance at the program’s graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 24, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The program, administered by the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, graduated 58 students this year. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Connections Homeschool Principal Richard Bartolowitz shakes a graduate’s hand at the program’s graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 24, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The program, administered by the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, graduated 58 students this year. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Connections Homeschool Principal Richard Bartolowitz shakes a graduate’s hand at the program’s graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 24, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The program, administered by the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, graduated 58 students this year. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Connections Homeschool graduate Eli Stoll processes to the front of the Soldotna High School auditorium at the program’s graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 24, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The program, administered by the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, graduated 58 students this year. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Connections Homeschool graduate Eli Stoll processes to the front of the Soldotna High School auditorium at the program’s graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 24, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The program, administered by the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, graduated 58 students this year. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Connections Homeschool graduate Eli Stoll plays the trombone during a student performance at the program’s graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 24, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The program, administered by the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, graduated 58 students this year. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Connections Homeschool graduate Eli Stoll plays the trombone during a student performance at the program’s graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 24, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. The program, administered by the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, graduated 58 students this year. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

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