In the darkened arena of the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex, six soon-to-be River City Academy high school graduates-to-be gathered.
They waited there for the 6 p.m. graduation ceremony to begin on Wednesday as their family, friends and teachers filled the chairs in the conference room.
River City Academy Principal Dawn Edwards-Smith adjusted students’ stoles and honor cords.
“This is like the third time she’s done this,” said graduate Shelby Fletcher.
Edwards-Smith asked if the graduates needed to be reminded to turn their cellphones off.
“Because that would be embarrassing,” Edwards-Smith said.
Although a phone call during the ceremony would have added final funny story to the group’s large collection they have accumulated during their years at RCA.
Forest Henry said the group had many laughs during his years at the school.
For Kiowa Richardson one of the most vivid memories from her time at RCA was when a large amount of red dye spilled in during an art project.
“It looked like a murder scene,” she said.
Richardson and twins Shelby Fletcher and Jordan Fletcher have attended the school since eighth grade, when RCA expanded to enroll middle school students as well as high school. Henry and Mac Wynkoop joined the three shortly after. Sheilyn Pogue started at RCA as a senior; RCA had never accepted a student as a senior before.
During the process of building a large story collection, the six have become close and know each other well.
Richardson described the group as diverse.
“We all have different intelligences,” she said.
She said some students are creative, like Jordan Fletcher, who wants to be a tattoo artist.
Jordan Fletcher said she’s always been interested and good at art and has worked with many different mediums.
Henry also has creative interests. He plans to attend the Culinary Academy at the Alaska Vocational Technical Center in Seward.
Wynkoop has a knack for technology.
He has been working in the information technology department for the Kenai Peninsula School District for the past year. He plans to attend Kenai Peninsula College for computer science.
“I’m more than ready for it,” he said about moving onto the next phase of his life.
Shelby Fletcher also said she feels ready for her post high school life.
Having just finished a pharmacy class through distance learning, she plans to continue working toward becoming a pharmacist.
Pogue plans to attend KPC and work toward becoming an occupational therapist.
Richardson said she’d be crazy if she wasn’t nervous about the future, but she’s excited too. She will attend the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She wants to become a translator.
“That’s my current plan, but you know how things change,” she said.