Special guests including Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Superintendent Clayton Holland, far right, attend Connections Homeschool’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Special guests including Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Superintendent Clayton Holland, far right, attend Connections Homeschool’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Connections honors more than 100 graduates

The home-school program held a ceremony Thursday in Soldotna

Students from around the Kenai Peninsula gathered in Soldotna on Thursday to celebrate their graduation from Connections — the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District home-school program.

More than 100 students from communities throughout the peninsula graduated from the program this year. Principal Richard Bartolowits said during the ceremony the school’s ability to serve students from across the borough has pros and cons. On one hand, the program is able to support students from all over, but on the other hand, he said he meets most students for the first time during graduation.

“Something I’ve learned over the years is that every person has a story,” Bartolowits said. “These things that we see our students do is only part of a story. Everyone here today followed a different path, and that goes for our graduates and everyone else in the room. Even though our paths were different … we all made it here.”

As students appeared on stage to receive their diplomas, Bartolowits spoke about each graduate’s interests, their time in high school or future plans. Post-high school plans ranged from four-year universities, to mission work, to vocational school, to entering the workforce.

Recognized as class valedictorians were Dakotah Buhr, Koda Poulin, Naomi Frederickson, Alexis Miller, Victoria Duggan, Alectra Miller, Deborah Weisser, Sequoia Craven, Olivia Cunningham, Sarah Trefren and Jasper Dundas.

At one point during the ceremony, the auditorium filled with the voices of audience members, who sang along with graduate Ndea Rollins while she performed a rendition of “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

“I’m playing this song for somebody today and, if you know it, I would love for you to sing it with me,” Rollins said.

Graduate Justin Trail, who plans to attend Liberty University to study worship leadership, took time during Thursday’s ceremony to thank his family for their support throughout his high school career.

“I’m pretty sure I have the best parents ever,” Trail said. “They always told me that I could do anything I set my mind to. Whenever I wanted to start something new, they would never instill in my mind that I would fail — unless it was an argument with them, of course.”

Weisser, who was also identified as a class valedictorian, was recognized by the Homer Elks Lodge, which awarded her a $2,000 scholarship, during the ceremony. Weisser plans to pursue an associate degree at Kenai Peninsula College’s Kachemak Bay campus and then a bachelor’s degree in nursing out of state.

Also in attendance at Thursday’s ceremony were KPBSD Superintendent Clayton Holland, Director of Communications Pegge Erkeneff and Board of Education members Matt Morse and Penny Vadla.

Connections Homeschool’s 2022 commencement ceremony can be streamed in full on the school’s Facebook page.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

Graduates

Central Peninsula

Xander Amend

Diego Angel

Jacob Belger

Brier Books

Emily Brady

Valerie Brophy

Karlee Brown

Dakotah Buhr

Autumn Calabrese

Jayla Conrad

Montana Craven

Sequoia Craven

Cory Curry

Elijah Dambacher

Gage Davis

Milena Doyle

Victoria Duggan

Eva Dunn

Orita Elder

Mackenzie Elsey

Eddie Erickson

Isaac Erwin

Naomi Frederickson

Amanda Galloway

Robert Gibson

Ava Grossl

Gwendolyn Hagelund

Karlie Hedlund

Tyler Hoagland

Haylee Hodge

Anita Jelliff

Chloe Johnson

Colby Jones

Keegan Kanan

Ashley Kingrey

Christian Kuczmarski

Salvatore MacMaster

Isaac Martin

Tracen Matthews

Brendon Mowery

Nathanael Mowery

Koda Norbeck

Alyssa Nunley

Adam Osborn

Rachelle Petersen

Kellen Plate

Xyander Plate

Koda Poulin *

Trenton Powell

Emelian Reutov

Dionici Reutov

Timofey Reutov

Ndea Rollins

Daniel Rytikova

Trey Shuler

Chloee Swanson

Briana Louise Theel

Sarah Trefren

Jennifer Tucker

Sarina Wilkinson

Hannah Williamson

Jessy Wynn

Devon Zimmers

Homer

Anna Anderson

Alina Basargin

Kirriakia Basargin-Reutov

Martinian Basargin

Ulita Basargin

Hanna Blaine

Isaac Blood

Feonilla Chuprov

Lincoln Conner

Lily Cowan

Genevieve Cully

Olivia Cunningham

Gabriel Dash

Isaak Fefelov

Zoya Fefelov

Elizabeth Flodin

Caitlin Gerasimof

Hannah Gerasimof

Michael Haerle

Franklin Haller

Lukah Kalugin

Emily Lane

Katie Lane

Alectra Miller

Alexis Miller

Myah Monicken *

Andrew Napier

Jerrin Norcross

Olivia Overdorf

Alexis Pierce

Sailey Rhodes

Indigo Sonneborn

Justin Trail

Maximus Turley

Adams Veldstra

Deborah Weisser

Audrey Willden

Seward

Caitlin Corrigan

Taylor Huett

Sailor Terry

Nikoya Wallace

——

Key:

* – National Honor Society

Graduates wait to receive diplomas during Connections Homeschool’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates wait to receive diplomas during Connections Homeschool’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduate Justin Trail speaks during Connections Homeschool’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduate Justin Trail speaks during Connections Homeschool’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Deborah Weisser, right, accepts an award from the Homer Elks Lodge during Connections Homeschool’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Deborah Weisser, right, accepts an award from the Homer Elks Lodge during Connections Homeschool’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Ndea Rollins performs “Can’t Help Fallin in Love” during Connections Homeschool’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Ndea Rollins performs “Can’t Help Fallin in Love” during Connections Homeschool’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates wait to receive diplomas during Connections Homeschool’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates wait to receive diplomas during Connections Homeschool’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

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