Nikiski Middle/High School graduates proceed into a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates proceed into 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 packed Nikiski Middle/High School gymnasium on Wednesday witnessed the closing moments of 43 high school careers, as Nikiski’s graduates celebrated their time together and took a moment to anticipate the bright futures that lie ahead.

Graduation is a major milestone in each of their lives, by class president Zoey Riley’s description. It’s also the first foray into the next journey. She said that while life after high school may draw each of them in different directions, they’ll always be a family, and they’ll always have the memories they made together at their school.

“Together we have grown, faced challenges, formed everlasting friendships and celebrated good times,” she said. “Now it’s time to embrace this next step.”

Valedictorian Shelby McGahan also cast her thoughts to the future in her remarks. She encouraged the graduates to take time to find themselves as they move now down their own pathways. Part of that, she said, is making the conscious decision to have happiness in their lives.

“As we embark on the journey of the rest of our lives, just know that finding the cosine of an angle will never be as important as doing your taxes or your laundry,” she said.

Commencement speaker Angie Coelho told the students that they’re not just entering a new chapter of their lives, they’re starting a new book. She said the class is one she’ll remember fondly, because they’re the first she’s seen through all four of their high school years.

She spoke of their resilience and called on them to remain that way. She urged them to go out into the world prepared to fail and prepared to make the most of that failure. That means seeking out opportunities, being willing to be humbled and understanding that even when things go wrong, it doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of their ambitions.

“Your worth, and your value, is because of who you are,” she said.

Salutatorian Maggie Grenier spoke of graduation as a radical human experience, a source of happiness, excitement, sadness and nostalgia. She encouraged her classmates to “register the magnitude of this moment.”

“We are all here experiencing it together,” she said. “It’s a beautiful thing, to feel so deeply, surrounded by those we love. I would hate to give this speech to a class of 1,000 — to a crowd of people I do not know. Instead, I get to look into this audience of familiar faces and know almost all of you by name.”

Each of the 43 graduates, she said, “will always be a part of each other’s stories.”

During her address, Grenier also credited the community that saw each of those graduates to Wednesday night’s ceremony — thanked them for the time and love that they invested.

“It’s because of you and the love you’ve invested in us that has allowed us to walk across the stage and become the people we are,” she said. “I look at my class now and I see a group full of potential. I have to say, ‘world, watch out,’ because so many of them are terrible drivers.”

It was in recognition of that community support that the students each left their seats later during the ceremony to deliver flowers to a member of the audience who were important to their success. The students took a moment to recognize not only their family members, but also some of their teachers — and a few walked back to their seats wiping away tears.

Grenier closed her thoughts by promising her classmates — and asking them for the same promise in return — to always say hi at the grocery store, to attend a reunion, and to measure their peers success “only by the joy in our hearts.”

“I will look back on our time together in this building and smile,” she said. “I hope that, wherever we all find ourselves in this world, you will be smiling too.”

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

Nikiski Middle/High School 2024 graduates

Brooke Abel #!

Ashlee Anderson !

Mick Arnett

Shelby Burman !#/

Jillian Churchill

Jed Davis

Zoey Ellis

Zaiyan Germann

Dalton Goodnight

Laken Graham

Olivia Gray

Maggie Grenier !#\

Katherine Hicks

Robert Isabell

Mylan Johnson

Levi Kimbell

Destiny Langston

Jakeup Martin

Paisley Maxwell

Aaron McCaughey

Leora McCaughey

Truit McCaughey

Sabrina Jenkins-McMillen

Trevor Moore

Joseph Mosqueda

Giaseena Nicks !

Seth Payne

Jorja Peppinger #

Johnathan Ralston

Kaydence Reis

Zoey Riley !

Mayaac Schmit

Julia Smith

Jerry Snodgrass

Frank St Denis

Katelyn Stichal

Kairi Townsend-D’Amico

Mia Velie

David Weathers

Emma Weeks

Avery White

Wynter Yeager

Sam Yerkes

Key

Valedictorian — /

Salutatorian — \

National Honor Society — #

Honors Diploma — !

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates proceed into a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates proceed into a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates proceed into a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates proceed into a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates proceed into a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates proceed into a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates proceed into a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates proceed into a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates proceed into a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates proceed into a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates proceed into a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates proceed into a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates proceed into a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates proceed into a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates proceed into a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates proceed into a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Student Body President Zoey Riley speaks during a graduation ceremony at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Student Body President Zoey Riley speaks during a graduation ceremony at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Salutatorian Maggie Grenier speaks during a graduation ceremony at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Salutatorian Maggie Grenier speaks during a graduation ceremony at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Valedictorian Shelby McGahan rises to speak during a graduation ceremony at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Valedictorian Shelby McGahan rises to speak during a graduation ceremony at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Commencement Speaker Angie Coelho speaks during a graduation ceremony at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Commencement Speaker Angie Coelho speaks during a graduation ceremony at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates smile, cry and clap along to their slide show during a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates smile, cry and clap along to their slide show during a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates hold tightly to their supporters during a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates hold tightly to their supporters during a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates hold tightly to their supporters during a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates hold tightly to their supporters during a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates hold tightly to their supporters during a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates hold tightly to their supporters during a graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates depart after the conclusion of their graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski Middle/High School graduates depart after the conclusion of their graduation ceremony in the school’s gym in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

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 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)

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