A board celebrates the 2024 graduates of River City Academy on Monday, May 13, 2024 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

A board celebrates the 2024 graduates of River City Academy on Monday, May 13, 2024 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

‘Go forth and live’

River City Academy graduates Class of 2024

Just shy of a dozen students received diplomas during Monday’s commencement ceremony for graduates of River City Academy, held at the school’s home base of Skyview Middle School. Clad in turquoise sashes, the group represented a mixed group that included some attendees of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s middle college program.

The gymnasium was decorated with balloons in school colors and filled with graduates’ family, friends and other guests. KPBSD school board member Penny Vadla and district Finance Director Elizabeth Hayes were also there on the district’s behalf.

River City Academy Principal Shea Nash opened the ceremony by saying how the Class of 2024 is special to him because it’s the first group of students he’s overseen during their entire tenure at the school. He made inside jokes while addressing the graduates and even held up one of the ceiling tiles from his former classroom that most of the graduates signed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is the first class that I’ve done the whole trip with, from seventh to 12th grade, and it’s been an awesome trip,” Nash said. “So thank you so much. It’s been my honor teaching you and mentoring you and watching you grow as people.”

River City Academy Salutatorian Christopher Smith used his address to thank the people in his life who’ve supported him on his journey to graduation — his family, friends, coworkers and teachers. He also highlighted some of the amenities that make River City Academy unique, such as the pool table, pingpong setup and ax-throwing opportunities.

“Thank you to everybody here that has shown their support for me and my graduating class,” Smith said. “While we may be teenagers and don’t always show it, we truly appreciate each and every one of you.”

In keeping with school tradition, all graduates were given the opportunity to address attendees, if desired. The brief speeches offered such sage advice as “cause chaos” and reflections on River City Academy’s “stress-free” environment.

River City Academy Valedictorian Melanie Seater recalled fondly her decision to enroll at the school after deciding she wanted to participate in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s middle college program. Seater told her peers to view their graduation as the start of a new chapter and to always believe in themselves.

“Believe in yourself and work hard. Prove that you’re going to take the world by storm,” Seater said. “Trust in those who love you and go forth and live. Become the person you strive to be and never give up.”

Seater was recognized Monday as a recipient of a $12,000 University of Alaska Scholar’s Award and as a recipient of the Alaska Performance Scholarship. Also honored were graduates Evan Arnett, who received the Sterling Masonic Lodge #22’s Student of the Year award, and Reese Terry, who received a $6,500 scholarship from Lee University.

The graduating class’s invited speaker was Annaleah Karron, the college and career coordinator for Kenai Peninsula Middle College. Like Nash, she has also worked with the graduates since they were in middle school and through the disruptions of the COVID-10 pandemic.

“Among the crazy Zoom meetings and advising check-ins, sometimes late into the evening at a distance,” she said, “there was still laughter, there was still learning happening. We discovered new parts of ourselves that we didn’t know existed. We found passion and strength in unexpected places and projects that excited us. This group held on to things that worked and radically changed the things that didn’t.”

Monday’s ceremony concluded with a turning of the tassels ceremony and slices of cake in the Skyview commons.

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

Spring 2024 Graduates

Evan Arnett*

Haley Dunham*

Kyler Foster

River Heames

Nannetta Katzenberger*

Malaina Maal*

Nicholas Pankratz

Melanie Seater*

Christopher Smith

William “Reece” Terry*

Boden Wight

*Middle College Student

River City Academy graduates walk into Skyview Middle School’s gymnasium during their commencement ceremony on Monday, May 13, 2024 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

River City Academy graduates walk into Skyview Middle School’s gymnasium during their commencement ceremony on Monday, May 13, 2024 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

River City Academy Principal Shea Nash addresses graduates at the school’s 2024 commencement ceremony on Monday, May 13, 2024 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

River City Academy Principal Shea Nash addresses graduates at the school’s 2024 commencement ceremony on Monday, May 13, 2024 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

River City Academy graduates listed to Principal Shea Nash speak during their 2024 commencement ceremony on Monday, May 13, 2024 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

River City Academy graduates listed to Principal Shea Nash speak during their 2024 commencement ceremony on Monday, May 13, 2024 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

River City Academy Salutatorian Christopher Smith (left) bounces a ball thrown to him by Principal Shea Nash during the school’s commencement ceremony on Monday, May 13, 2024 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

River City Academy Salutatorian Christopher Smith (left) bounces a ball thrown to him by Principal Shea Nash during the school’s commencement ceremony on Monday, May 13, 2024 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

River City Academy graduate Kyler Foster addresses attendees at the school’s 2024 commencement ceremony on Monday, May 13, 2024 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

River City Academy graduate Kyler Foster addresses attendees at the school’s 2024 commencement ceremony on Monday, May 13, 2024 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

River City Academy Salutatorian Christopher Smith addresses attendees during the school’s commencement ceremony on Monday, May 13, 2024 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

River City Academy Salutatorian Christopher Smith addresses attendees during the school’s commencement ceremony on Monday, May 13, 2024 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

River City Academy Valedictorian Melanie Seater addresses attendees during the school’s commencement ceremony on Monday, May 13, 2024 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

River City Academy Valedictorian Melanie Seater addresses attendees during the school’s commencement ceremony on Monday, May 13, 2024 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Peninsula Middle College Career and College Coordinator Annaleah Karron addresses graduates at River City Academy’s 2024 commencement ceremony on Monday, May 13, 2024 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Peninsula Middle College Career and College Coordinator Annaleah Karron addresses graduates at River City Academy’s 2024 commencement ceremony on Monday, May 13, 2024 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Attendees cheer for graduates at the end of River City Academy’s commencement ceremony on Monday, May 13, 2024 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Attendees cheer for graduates at the end of River City Academy’s commencement ceremony on Monday, May 13, 2024 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

More in News

Assembly President Brent Johnson asks questions of representatives of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District during a joint work session of the School Board and Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough to enter contract for asbestos flooring abatement in 3 central peninsula schools

The work will be done at Kenai Central High, Kenai Alternative High and Sterling Elementary schools

Alaska State Troopers logo.
1 dead, 3 missing after boat capsizes near Seward

Alaska State Troopers were notified by the U.S. Coast Guard of an overturned vessel around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday

Kenai Central High School stands under clear skies in Kenai, Alaska, on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough approves contract for KCHS parking lot rehabilitation

Soldotna-based Foster Construction will be awarded the bid of $648,997 to complete the project

Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Central Peninsula Hospital to host Cancer Survivor’s Day event

The event will take place Sunday, June 2 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, speaks to the joint Soldotna and Kenai chambers of commerce at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Wednesday.
Carpenter gives wrap up on session as he nears end of House term

Carpenter is seeking election to state Senate District D

(from left to right) Jachin Sanchez, Carter Lemons, Rowan Mahoney, Adelyn McCorison and Taylor Rickard graduated from Ninilchik School on Monday, May 13, 2024 in Ninilchik, Alaska. Photo provided by Mattea Peters-Williamson
Ninilchik graduates 5 in 2024 commencement

The school held the ceremony Monday, May 13

Kenai Peninsula Education Association President LaDawn Druce, left, and committee Chair Jason Tauriainen participate in the first meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Four Day School Week Ad Hoc Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
4-day school week committee adjourns

The committee will deliver recommendations to school board in July

Soldotna Elementary School Principal Dr. Austin Stevenson points out corroded insulation outside of the school building on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 in Soldotna . (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna Elementary awaits action on approved bond

Almost two years after public OKs bond, borough asking for more time

Most Read