The 20 graduates of Kenai Alternative High School are bonded, Principal Kyle McFall said during a graduation ceremony Monday. That’s because each of them made the decision to come to Kenai Alternative, “taking ownership” of their own educational journey.
“I told you to be proud of yourself for making that decision,” he said. “Understand that you are here because you know you can be successful, you know you can be powerful.”
The graduates of Kenai Alt described themselves as a close-knit community that benefits from strong support by dedicated faculty. That sentiment was championed by student speakers Tia Hakedahl and Shay Smith.
Smith said that his first day at Kenai Alternative was his birthday.
“Everyone has made me feel very welcome and loved,” he said.
Before coming to Kenai Alt, Smith said he was living in “a really bad spot.” He said that Kenai Alt represented his opportunity to get back up — “and graduate with the wonderful class I have today.”
Hakedahl described an experience where an employer looked down on her when she said she went to Kenai Alt. Despite that, she said, she advanced through the ranks at that job and “continued to surprise them with my professionalism and commitment.”
“I am not the only student in this school with these abilities,” she said. “This school is full of kids with great skills and talents.”
She said those skills were developed by the resources and support of the staff — and she said that support would stick with them.
“I go to a school that provides a sense of family and comfort. I go to the school that looks past mistakes that you have made. I go to the school that supports each individual student with their struggles,” Hakedahl said.
As part of the graduation ceremony, each of the students was given a rose and instructed to give it to their biggest supporter. Each of the students marched forth with purpose, delivering roses to family and friends in the audience — some hugs too.
Kenai Alternative High School Spring 2023 graduates
Tyshona Ravenmoon Hyde