Alternative school. Alternative graduation.
Kenai Alternative High School, which provides students more flexible scheduling than the traditional high school environment, recognized 22 graduates Wednesday night at a ceremony presided over by Principal Loren Reese, who is retiring after 27 years in education and 13 at Kenai Alternative High School.
“When Reese told me I’d be a speaker at graduation, my first thought was, in retrospect, I haven’t been here all that long and do I know the ropes of the Alt well enough to accurately sum up the true spirit of the Alt?” student speaker Corvin Bookey said.
Unlike most graduations, Bookey was not a guest speaker or a valedictorian. Reese selects students to come up and say a few words.
“Then I realized how much I really changed in my time here and just how drastic the difference between old and traditional schools is,” Bookey continued. “We’re a school with one hallway, seven rooms and no judgment.
“We are close by circumstance at first, and then by choice. Despite the fact that we see a lot of each other every day, amazingly, everyone still gets along.”
After welcoming the audience to Kenai Alt’s 32nd annual graduation ceremony, Reese thanked the community groups, organizations and individuals that help make the program at Kenai Alt possible. He specifically thanked Soldotna United Methodist Church, Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church and the Halstead Family for a community breakfast program that has existed for 28 years.
Due to special programs like that, Reese made clear his feelings on Kenai Alt.
“After 27 years in education, I’ve made the very difficult decision to retire from what I consider to be the very best school on this peninsula,” Reese said.
The ceremony continued with another special tradition that makes the Alt the Alt. Reese gave out a series of special awards customized for students.
• Are you a student who can’t begin the day without one, or perhaps even two, cups of coffee? The Mr. Coffee Award goes to Ryan Pearcy.
• Are you one of the toughest individuals Reese has met in 27 years of education, so tough you came to school the day after injuring yourself moving furniture? The Tough as Nails Award goes to Layne Todd.
• Did you manage to drive not just yourself to school every day, but find the time to pick up two or three additional students? The School Taxi Award goes to Emma Brown.
• Are you a student who always helped fellow students who had gotten stuck or had their cars break down? The Mr. Fix It Award goes to Oliver Larrow.
Kaylee Mistecka, the second student speaker, then summed up the evening.
“Kenai Alternative High School is not just an ordinary school,” she said. “It is a school everybody dearly loves that is filled with years of memories.”
Robert Armond Allain, II
Quinn Alexander Baze
Jacob Lawrence Beisel
Corvin Liam Bookey
Emma Carlene Brown
Tatihana Rose Dehoyos
Joseph Marc Denison
Jack Hayden Doucet
Aaron Bradley Halstead
Dillon Charles Hanson
Dylan Timothy Harris
Dezerae Josephine Michelle Hite
Russell Joseph Lanahan
Oliver Kelly Larrow
Kaylee Marie Mistecka
Ryan Thomas Pearcy
Brock David Poe
Cadence Diella Selanoff
Suifou Koke Silva
Ayden James Spann
Echo Rayne Lee Thiele