Graduates of Kenai Central High School proceed into the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates of Kenai Central High School proceed into the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central grads look to future in a changing world, urged to ‘make it change for the better’

The Class of 2024 graduated Monday

In a Monday ceremony, 90 students of Kenai Central High School celebrated the bonds they’ve created together over the last four years while also casting their eyes forward toward a future equal parts hopeful and uncertain. Student speakers encouraged their peers to blaze their own pathways as they look at last beyond the walls of their school and consider their unique futures and ambitions.

Kristin Davis, who delivered the commencement address, credited the graduates for their grit, for their diversity, and for their list of accomplishments, too deep to summarize.

The Class of 2024, she said, have bright futures. Among them are students who have distinguished themselves in sports and in art, students who have given their “time, energy and compassion” in support of their communities and students who had to balance their education with work or with caring for their loved ones.

“You have much to be proud of, Class of 2024,” Davis said. “I’ve enjoyed watching you grow so much.

Senior class president James Wright described his classmates as “truly kind and supportive people,” who grew together over their four years of high school. That means, he said, together they endured the hardships of writing each essay for language arts classes, but also, they shared in the highlights — like watching “Shrek 2” in Señor Moss’ Spanish class.

“As we enter this rapidly changing world, it is within our hands to change it for the better,” he said. “Which I’m confident we will do, because I don’t think any of us are going to find fulfillment in doing what we are told or expected to do. Find something you enjoy doing and let it guide you to success.”

Similarly looking to the future was valedictorian Robert Carson, who said that graduation is a time of hope. He said that his graduating class now must move on into the wider world and fulfill two responsibilities. They must take care of themselves, and they must take care of others.

He pointed to his peers and told them that each of them, as well as the teachers of KCHS, “every single person in this room” is an inspiration — “in their own way.”

Salutatorian Emily Moss said that after years spent as a tight-knit community, sharing much of the path with one another, the students of Kenai Central now will be tasked with making their own futures.

She said that if ever they feel lost on those paths, they can turn around and find support from the community they’ve fostered in Kenai.

Change is scary, Moss said, and that’s something she’s known since kindergarten. But, in high school, she learned to “embrace change.”

“By leaning into scary and difficult things, we can embrace what makes us truly happy,” she said.

Davis said that the class exemplifies Sisu, a Finnish concept for “strength of will, determination, perseverance and acting rationally in the face of adversity.” It’s not momentary courage, but the ability to sustain courage. Each has had to call upon that strength to see their time at Kenai Central brought to Monday’s culmination.

Looking to their futures, Davis called on the students to “do hard things.” She said they will come to enjoy it, and they will push themselves to grow.

“Failure is absolutely part of this process,” she said. “Embrace it.”

Davis encouraged the graduates to find people who lift them up, to embrace them just as well. Those connections already exist, she said, in their families, their chosen families and their friends. They’ll forge even more connections as they venture forth.

The student speakers, elected by the graduating class, were Emma Beck and Ashlyn Potton. They instructed the crowd on youthful slang, shared a Bible verse and made the audience laugh with their jokes. They also spoke in more somber tone in fond remembrance of a former classmate who passed away in 2020 — who didn’t get the opportunity to walk with the class.

They looked to him as an inspiration, as someone who lived life his own way and had fun doing it.

To that end, Beck told her peers never to dull their lights for anyone.

Central to their thoughts was a concept of love. Not, Potton said, a cliched contemporary understanding of love, but a patient and kind love that teaches grace for other people — “one of the riskiest things to approach in this life.”

“It’s a bright world out there, we just really have to look for it,” she said.

“Slay the day away,” together, they encouraged their classmates.

Kenai Central High School 2024 graduates

Kai Adkins

Rami A.H. Alshurafa ^

Lincoln Alton

Koby Anderson

Isabella Asi

Emma Beck *

Grace Beiser +

Cadance Bitterich

Jacob Blum

Emma Bolling Cornilles +

Captain Brogdon +

Robert Carson /#

Abigail Castillo

Jaycie Castillo +

Sabre Christoffersen

Isabella Croom

Aloshia Cross +

Emaline Cruickshank

Bryce Dederick

Kyle Diaz +

Landon Dubber

Sebastian Duniphin

Hally Elder Hanson

Luis Elias

Gregory Fallon *

Athena Fite-Monette

Koby Fowers

Khongorzul Gantulga ^

Camilla Gonzalez *

Haley Graves

Chloe Grimm *

Kaiden Grimshaw

Elliot Haakenson

Lynnea Hack *

Grace Hallam +

Vincent Hensley *

Lynndi Holmes-Pratt

Ryan Johnson

Vance Johnston

Ihupani Juliussen

Alexander Kasdorf

Kenzie Keller

Tabitha Kernan

Ashton Kissee

Jack Laker !

Harley Magallanes

Juan Campos ^

Birch Marcus

Jackson Marion *#

Alexis Marquis

Spencer Maw

Isabel McClure

Michael McConnell

Boston McEwen *

Taylor McNeel *

Chloe Moffett *#

Emily Moss #\

Ruth Nash

Hayden Naylor

Alexandra Nelson

Koen Pace

Willow Patrick *#

Zane Pellegrom +

Mycka Phillips

Ashlyn Potton *#!

Madison Richmond

William Roberts +#

Beverly Roney

Emmalee Roney

Victoria Sargeant *#

Jackson Satathite

Keith Sees

Gabriel Segura

Samuel Sloan

Adeline Smith *#

Owen Smith *

Nora Sonderland

Serenity Stamm

Vincent Steen ^

Brooke Summers *

Nathan Teates

Zane Tews +

Christiaan Theron

Charles Trickel

Kylee Verkuilen *#!

Jacob Wait

Emilee Wilson

William Wilson

James Wright *

Nova Ziegler

Key

Valedictorian — /

Salutatorian — \

Summa Cum Laude — *

Magna Cum Laude — +

National Honor Society — #

Service Cord — !

Foreign Exchange — ^

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

Graduates of Kenai Central High School proceed into the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates of Kenai Central High School proceed into the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates of Kenai Central High School proceed into the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates of Kenai Central High School proceed into the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates of Kenai Central High School proceed into the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates of Kenai Central High School proceed into the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates of Kenai Central High School proceed into the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates of Kenai Central High School proceed into the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates of Kenai Central High School proceed into the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates of Kenai Central High School proceed into the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates of Kenai Central High School proceed into the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates of Kenai Central High School proceed into the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Class President James Wright speaks to his fellow students at their graduation ceremony at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Class President James Wright speaks to his fellow students at their graduation ceremony at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Valedictorian Robert Carson speaks to his fellow students at their graduation ceremony at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Valedictorian Robert Carson speaks to his fellow students at their graduation ceremony at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Salutatorian Emily Moss speaks to her fellow students at their graduation ceremony at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Salutatorian Emily Moss speaks to her fellow students at their graduation ceremony at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Senior class speakers Ashlyn Potton and Emma Beck deliver a joke while speaking to fellow students of Kenai Central High School at their graduation ceremony in the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Senior class speakers Ashlyn Potton and Emma Beck deliver a joke while speaking to fellow students of Kenai Central High School at their graduation ceremony in the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Commencement Speaker Kristin Davis offers words of advice to students of Kenai Central High School at their graduation ceremony in the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Commencement Speaker Kristin Davis offers words of advice to students of Kenai Central High School at their graduation ceremony in the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Students of Kenai Central High School celebrate at the end of their graduation ceremony in the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Students of Kenai Central High School celebrate at the end of their graduation ceremony in the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Students of Kenai Central High School celebrate at the end of their graduation ceremony in the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Students of Kenai Central High School celebrate at the end of their graduation ceremony in the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Students of Kenai Central High School celebrate at the end of their graduation ceremony in the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Students of Kenai Central High School celebrate at the end of their graduation ceremony in the school’s auditorium in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, May 13, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

More in News

A sign warning of a June 28, 2021, bear attack is placed at the head of the Kenai River Trail on Skilak Loop Road in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge on June 30, 2021. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Federal wildlife officers seek information about early-May black bear poaching

Officials think the poaching happened near the east entrance of Skilak Loop roughly 2 miles from Jims’ Landing

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Ninilchik woman dead after Tuesday collision

The woman was attempting to cross the Sterling Highway from Oil Well Road when she was struck by a pickup truck

Graduates listen to Connections Homeschool Principal Doug Hayman speak during the school’s commencement ceremony on Thursday in Soldotna. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Graduates listen to Connections Homeschool Principal Doug Hayman speak during the school’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 16, 2024 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Expect a lot from yourself and from others’

Connections Homeschool students accept diplomas at commencement ceremony

Screenshot
Graduates of Seward High School leave the gym at the end of their graduation ceremony on Wednesday.
‘Give people something to talk about’

Seward High School graduates 30

Kenai Police Chief David Ross speaks to Kenai City Council members about an ordinance that would repeal sections of city code that prohibit public sleeping and loitering and the city’s curfew on Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai OKs repeal of loitering laws, curfew for minors

The policies, first enacted in 1978, are difficult to enforce and potentially violate citizens’ rights, according to the Kenai Police Department

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates throw their caps into the air at the conclusion of a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Nikiski graduates ‘will always be a part of each other’s stories’

The graduates celebrated their time together and took a moment to anticipate the bright futures that lie ahead

A seal pup rescued from near Kenai beach is treated by the Alaska SeaLife Center’s Wildlife Response Program on May 9, 2024. (Photo courtesy Kaiti Grant/Alaska SeaLife Center)
SeaLife Center admits abandoned harbor seal pups

Both seals were found abandoned and malnourished, and both were born prematurely

Caitlin Babcock, left, and other graduates enter Soldotna High School’s commencement ceremony on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna sends off more than 140 graduates at Tuesday commencement

More than 140 students stepped off the Soldotna High School graduation stage… Continue reading

Most Read