Tatiana Cooper, laughing, of Ninilchik's graduating class reacts to Barbara Denboer's commencement address during the graduation ceremony on May 24, 2017 in the Ninilchik School Gym in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Tatiana Cooper, laughing, of Ninilchik's graduating class reacts to Barbara Denboer's commencement address during the graduation ceremony on May 24, 2017 in the Ninilchik School Gym in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Ninilchik community celebrates graduating class

  • Thursday, May 25, 2017 3:28pm
  • News

Eleven Ninilchik seniors lined the walls of the school gym following their graduation ceremony to receive well-wishes, hugs and gifts from the community that helped raise them.

“If there’s just one thing I have to say tonight, I’d like to give an enormous ‘thank you’ to the entire community of Ninilchik. It quite literally took the entire village to raise each and every one of these graduates,” valedictorian Mikayla Clark said during her speech.

Throughout the ceremony, the feeling of community within Ninilchik was repeated with the age old-adage “It takes a village.” On Wednesday night, the village came together to offer more than 10 scholarships to this year’s graduating class.

Katrina Appelhanz, Tatiana Cooper and Heather Bear each received the Project GRAD Scholarship.

Heather Bear also received the Erling Kvasnikoff Scholarship, Ninilchilk Domestic Engineers Merit Award, Ninilchik Traditional Council Scholarship and the Alaska Performance Scholarship.

Jacob Roberts received the Golden Rule Scholarship, Alaska Performance Scholarship and the Anonymous Donor Award.

Clark received the Hilcorp Future Leaders of America Scholarship, University of Alaska Scholar Award, Ninilchik Domestic Engineers Merit Award, Homer Elks Scholarship Award and the Alaska Performance Scholarship.

“I’m excited about the scholarships. It’s definitely going to help with college,” Clark said. She plans on attending the University of Southeast Alaska to study environmental science and pursue a career in biomedical engineering.

The other graduating students have a wide variety of post high school plans, including Roberts who is attending Kenai Peninsula College in the fall.

“After I take care of my general education requirements, I plan on going out of state or to the University of Alaska Fairbanks to pursue a film degree,” Roberts said.

Tatiana Cooper described her plans as “weird,” but highlighted her hope to give back to whatever community she ends up living in.

“I got engaged in February and my fiancé is in boot camp in the Navy right now,” Cooper said. “But, we’re getting married in August and where ever he gets stationed, I’ll start nursing school there and help within a local church with disabled kids or something to help people.”

Cooper’s appreciation for community started in Ninilchik.

“I’ve been here since preschool,” Cooper said. “I loved high school and I loved it here. It’s really sad to think that I’m leaving.”

But, as the students were reminded by their commencement speaker, Ninilchik teacher Barbara Denboer, they’re ready to start the next phase in life, even if they will be missed.

“My chickens are leaving the nest,” Denboer said.

Reach Kat Sorensen at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com

More in News

Assembly President Brent Johnson asks questions of representatives of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District during a joint work session of the School Board and Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough to enter contract for asbestos flooring abatement in 3 central peninsula schools

The work will be done at Kenai Central High, Kenai Alternative High and Sterling Elementary schools

Alaska State Troopers logo.
1 dead, 3 missing after boat capsizes near Seward

Alaska State Troopers were notified by the U.S. Coast Guard of an overturned vessel around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday

Kenai Central High School stands under clear skies in Kenai, Alaska, on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough approves contract for KCHS parking lot rehabilitation

Soldotna-based Foster Construction will be awarded the bid of $648,997 to complete the project

Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Central Peninsula Hospital to host Cancer Survivor’s Day event

The event will take place Sunday, June 2 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, speaks to the joint Soldotna and Kenai chambers of commerce at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Wednesday.
Carpenter gives wrap up on session as he nears end of House term

Carpenter is seeking election to state Senate District D

(from left to right) Jachin Sanchez, Carter Lemons, Rowan Mahoney, Adelyn McCorison and Taylor Rickard graduated from Ninilchik School on Monday, May 13, 2024 in Ninilchik, Alaska. Photo provided by Mattea Peters-Williamson
Ninilchik graduates 5 in 2024 commencement

The school held the ceremony Monday, May 13

Kenai Peninsula Education Association President LaDawn Druce, left, and committee Chair Jason Tauriainen participate in the first meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Four Day School Week Ad Hoc Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
4-day school week committee adjourns

The committee will deliver recommendations to school board in July

Soldotna Elementary School Principal Dr. Austin Stevenson points out corroded insulation outside of the school building on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 in Soldotna . (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna Elementary awaits action on approved bond

Almost two years after public OKs bond, borough asking for more time

Most Read