The 48 2015 Nikiski Middle-High School graduating seniors are departing with their Bulldog spirit.
Before the tassels were turned and caps tossed, Senior Class President Bryce Jensen took the stage to address his classmates one final time.
“I feel like I speak for everyone when I say ‘I am proud I went to this school,’” Jensen said. “Promise yourself this is not the end of Bulldog pride.”
Jensen will be starting school at the University of Idaho in the fall to try for a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering followed by a PhD in Mechanical Engineering,. During his four years at Nikiski Middle-High School he was encouraged and allowed to carry out various engineering projects around the school, which honed His skills and interest in the field.
Surrounded by friends and family in the school’s commons area post-commencement, Jensen said he was thankful he had the chance to address the seniors.
Jensen advised his peers to “take control of your own life.” He said to approach life as if it is a “moving sidewalk.”
“If you are standing still you are moving backwards. If you are walking, you are standing still,” Jensen said. “If you are running you are moving forwards. So run. Run, run, run.”
Jensen also said he will carrying his school spirit with him even when he leaves Alaska.
“I am not going to miss it because I am not going to stop,” Jensen said.
Many of Jensen’s classmates also attributed their next steps to their education at Nikiski Middle-High School.
“What hasn’t helped me?” said graduating senior Jacob Williams. “Every teacher encourages you to excel. I had so much encouragement.”
Williams is attending the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He said the close relationship he was able to develop with his teachers is unique amongst public schools.
Katelyn Sexton said her teacher Laura Niemczyk became a mother to her. She said she was inspired by how teachers at the high school interact with their students to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.
Teachers from Nikiski Middle-High School had the chance to say ‘goodbye’ to their students Wednesday.
Science teacher Dan Adair, took the stage that evening to offer some last words of advice to his departing students.
“Infect your world with whatever your world may be, I promise it will change your life,” Adair said. “Be afraid; but shape that into courage.”
Adair told his students to surround themselves with positive influences.
“Help others, but don’t do it for recognition,” Adair said. “We live in a culture where people help others to be noticed.”
Standing in the commons area, Max Handley said he was ready to move on but will miss his friends.
“These are people I have grown up with since preschool,” Handley said.
Handley said he thankful for the conservative education he received at Nikiski Middle-High School.
“It’s about time (to graduate),” Handley said. “It was four years of not getting paid.”
Handley will be pursuing a career in the oil field.
He is looking forward to being a part of a culture that encourages hard work with a product he said “is the backbone of America.” Nearly every known product is somehow produced with the help of petroleum, he said.
“It’s what I have grown up around,” Handley said.
Feet away from Handley, the school’s secretary Margie Warner was giving Taylor Andeway a tearful ‘goodbye’.
“Every year it’s hard to let my kids go— all 400 of them,” Warner said. “And they are all my kids, just ask them.”