Kenai Alternative High School graduate Larissa Pittman hugs school secretary Jacquelynn Tomrdle at the high school’s graduation ceremony on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 in Kenai, Alaska. Kenai Alternative High School provides more flexible edcuation for students who struggled in traditional high school environments, scheduling classes around jobs, children and life circumstances to help students achieve their high school diplomas. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Alternative High School graduate Larissa Pittman hugs school secretary Jacquelynn Tomrdle at the high school’s graduation ceremony on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 in Kenai, Alaska. Kenai Alternative High School provides more flexible edcuation for students who struggled in traditional high school environments, scheduling classes around jobs, children and life circumstances to help students achieve their high school diplomas. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Alternative graduates walk own paths to diplomas

Before they all walked away with a diploma Tuesday, the administrators at Kenai Alternative High School made sure each of the students felt individually recognized.

Principal Loren Reese and School Secretary Jacquelynn Tomrdle handed out awards at the beginning of the ceremony in categories fitted to each specific student — from the “Down to the Wire” award for a student who squeaked in his last graduation requirement to the “Celine Dion” award for a student who was often heard singing.

It’s an annual tradition for the alternative high school, which offers flexible scheduling for students who struggle in the traditional high school environment. This year’s graduating class of 23 students worked through an array of different life circumstances on their way to the graduation stage Tuesday.

“If not for Kenai Alt, I would not have graduated,” said Paige Reger, one of the graduates.

Soldotna High School was not right for her, she said. But the flexibility of the rotations at Kenai Alternative High School and the staff worked with her this year, and she’s walking away with a diploma.

The staff works with all the students, whether they need to come in late because of a job or coaching them through job applications, said graduate Larissa Pittman. Her plans after graduation include leaving the area, she said.

The high school yearbook features student artwork on the front and an entire page inside dedicated to students’ tattoos and piercings.

“It’s how we express ourselves,” Pittman said.

The high school is missing sports — something Reger said she wasn’t too upset about leaving behind when she left SoHi — and other events like prom. Pittman said the students went to the proms at the high schools they had come from.

The high school gymnasium was crowded with loudly cheering family and friends as the students entered for the ceremony. Amid the crowd were a number of toddlers, some of them the children of the students. Haley Miller said she worked on her high school diploma around a job and a 5-month-old daughter.

“(I) didn’t sleep much,” she said, tugging at her graduation tassel.

Just before the graduation ceremony, some of the graduates described the school as better than the high schools they’d come from, or glad to graduate. From the front row, graduate Jessie Metz answered, “Best school ever.”

Kenai Alternative High School 2018 graduates

Laura Archuleta

Alexzya Bahr

Maximillian McCloud Baty

Rylee Brewington

Joshua Ryan Campos

Tausha Cornell

Cora Davis

Dalten Falgout

Dayton Faucheux

Kevin Green

Brendan Harris

Destinee Jennings

Jessie Metz

Haley Miller

Keith Miller

John Nicholson

Larissa Pittman

Paige Reger

Trevor Robinson

Isaiah Trevino

Lindsey Weber

Cheyanne Willard

Kindle Williams

Reach Elizabeth Earl at eearl@peninsulaclarion.com.

Kenai Alternative High School graduates listen as Principal Loren Reese speaks during their graduation ceremony on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 in Kenai, Alaska. Kenai Alternative High School provides more flexible edcuation for students who struggled in traditional high school environments, scheduling classes around jobs, children and life circumstances to help students achieve their high school diplomas. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Alternative High School graduates listen as Principal Loren Reese speaks during their graduation ceremony on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 in Kenai, Alaska. Kenai Alternative High School provides more flexible edcuation for students who struggled in traditional high school environments, scheduling classes around jobs, children and life circumstances to help students achieve their high school diplomas. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Larissa Pittman (left) and Laura Archuleta (right) wait to file in for the Kenai Alternative High School graduation ceremonty with their 23 classmates at the high school on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 in Kenai, Alaska. Kenai Alternative High School provides more flexible edcuation for students who struggled in traditional high school environments, scheduling classes around jobs, children and life circumstances to help students achieve their high school diplomas. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Larissa Pittman (left) and Laura Archuleta (right) wait to file in for the Kenai Alternative High School graduation ceremonty with their 23 classmates at the high school on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 in Kenai, Alaska. Kenai Alternative High School provides more flexible edcuation for students who struggled in traditional high school environments, scheduling classes around jobs, children and life circumstances to help students achieve their high school diplomas. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Alternative High School graduate Destinee Jennings returns to her seat after receiving an award at the high school’s graduation ceremony on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 in Kenai, Alaska. Kenai Alternative High School provides more flexible edcuation for students who struggled in traditional high school environments, scheduling classes around jobs, children and life circumstances to help students achieve their high school diplomas. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Alternative High School graduate Destinee Jennings returns to her seat after receiving an award at the high school’s graduation ceremony on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 in Kenai, Alaska. Kenai Alternative High School provides more flexible edcuation for students who struggled in traditional high school environments, scheduling classes around jobs, children and life circumstances to help students achieve their high school diplomas. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Alternative High School graduate Jessie Metz (left) zips up graduate Laura Archuleta’s (right) graudation gown before the high school’s graduation ceremony on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 in Kenai, Alaska. Kenai Alternative High School provides more flexible edcuation for students who struggled in traditional high school environments, scheduling classes around jobs, children and life circumstances to help students achieve their high school diplomas. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Alternative High School graduate Jessie Metz (left) zips up graduate Laura Archuleta’s (right) graudation gown before the high school’s graduation ceremony on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 in Kenai, Alaska. Kenai Alternative High School provides more flexible edcuation for students who struggled in traditional high school environments, scheduling classes around jobs, children and life circumstances to help students achieve their high school diplomas. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

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