There was standing room only in Ninilchik School’s small gymnasium during graduation on Tuesday afternoon. The crowd had come to give well-wishes and congratulations to the 11 members of Ninilchik’s class of 2016. A few audience members hung back outside the gymnasium door, listening to the voices from the PA system inside.
“Considering the challenges small schools have, their graduations are always lovely,” said presenter Jane Beck, executive director of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Project Grad program.
The small group of graduates have a wide variety of ambitions. Graduate Labri Estrada plans to travel to Palmer to study at the Jobs Corps vocational training center, where she wants to become a certified nursing assistant. Estrada said a love of people had inspired her career choice.
“I’ve always loved being around people, though I may seem very shy,” Estrada said. “I’ve always loved making people smile. And I though, oh, what a great way to make people smile — by actually helping them get better and stuff like that.”
Graduate Timothy Delgado finished high school as he began it: in a fedora. The brimmed hat he wore to the ceremony in place of the traditional mortarboard was blue and sequined.
“I like fedoras, and I’ve always worn a fedora to school since freshman year, so my parents made a blue one to resemble a graduation cap,” Delgado said.
When asked about his post-high school career, Delgado said “I plan on finding something I’d love to do and make money off of it.”
“Right now I’m working on animation and making my own show,” Delgado said. “It’s going to be about a fantasy world where all of a sudden a whole bunch of monsters and creatures start getting more powerful and joining forces. And these characters end up being hired by the king of one of the kingdoms to investigate it.”
Delgado said he was attempting to begin the computer-animated show by himself.
“When I complete it, I’m going to look at whole bunch of different animation corporations, specifically Funimation, and see if they’d be interested in helping to produce it and all that,” he said.
Two of the 2016 graduates will be joining the military. Alexander Koch plans to enlist in the Air Force and Caleb Applehanz in the Army. Army Staff Sergeant Gregory LeBrasseur gave a speech at the event before calling Applehanz on stage to present him with an oversized check representing a $55,904 scholarship from the Army.
“Thank God we live in a world were young men and women will stand up as the forces of evil are more rampant than ever,” said LeBrasseur. “Young men and women will stand up and say ‘I am going to fight this evil!’”
Although Koch’s Air Force recruiter wasn’t present at the graduation, Koch was also invited to the stage to receive applause for his choice.
Graduate Krista Sinclair said she had considered going into the military, but had decided instead on something close. She plans to go to the University of Oklahoma and eventually become an attorney.
“I’m really interested in military law,” Sinclair said. “… I feel like, obviously, it’s very emotional and powerful. I like that. I know two of my friends that are graduating with me are serving, and I like that. Military was actually an option for me that I wanted to do, but I wanted to start college sooner. … Everybody says being an attorney you have to argue. But I like to think of it more as helping people. Obviously you can’t have a country without law, and I like that it’s something that can go very broad.”
Reach Ben Boettger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caleb John Applehanz
William Paul Clark
Timothy Arturo Delgado
Labri Cesa Estrada
Jordan Danielle Finney
Alanna Brooke Goins
Morgan Alysh Heinz
Naomi Marie Hess
Alexander Douglas Koch
Krystal Ann Robuck
Krista Mary Sinclair