Jellybean Normal speaks at the River City Academy graduation in Soldotna, Alaska on Monday, May 17, 2021. She graduated from the Kenai Peninsula Middle College and was a part of the National Honor Society. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

Jellybean Normal speaks at the River City Academy graduation in Soldotna, Alaska on Monday, May 17, 2021. She graduated from the Kenai Peninsula Middle College and was a part of the National Honor Society. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

‘The Class of 2021 will change the world’

River City Academy graduates 9

River City Academy graduated nine seniors on Monday night, both from the high school and the Kenai Peninsula Middle College affiliate.

Two students from the class of 2020 were also in attendance, because the school did their ceremony virtually last year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

RCA Principal Dawn Edwards-Smith began the commencement ceremony with a speech thanking the staff, students and families for their support throughout the educational hardships of the past year. She said despite the challenges, the class of 2021 was graduating with more than 170 college credits between them.

Former RCA history teacher Annaleah Karran gave the guest speech on Monday.

She recounted the large-scale events that defined past generations, from the silent generation to the Millennials, concluding that the graduates of Generation Z have now lived through one of the most politically tumultuous periods while also surviving a global pandemic.

“I have no doubt that the Class of 2021 will change the world,” Karran said during her speech. “We have some high expectations for you.”

This year’s valedictorian was Tovia Owens, who graduated as a National Honor Society member from the Kenai Peninsula Middle College program.

She said in an interview with the Clarion that she is excited to take a few months to relax after she graduates, before she heads to Purdue University to study engineering.

Owens spoke about the importance of being proactive in life and not remaining stagnant.

“Why do we wait? What’s stopping us?” she asked her classmates during her valedictorian speech. “For the first time in our lives our choices will be … mostly our own. It’s time to stop waiting.”

Calyssa Saporito-Mills was RCA’s salutatorian this year.

“These classmates of mine are some of the smartest and … most creative people I’ve ever met,” she said during her speech at the ceremony.

Parker Kincaid joined the ceremony as the Class of 2020 valedictorian.

During an interview with the Clarion Kincaid said it felt good to be able to finally get an in-person graduation ceremony, as his last year was hosted remotely because of the pandemic. He has been studying engineering at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, for the past year.

After the graduates gave their speeches and received their diplomas, Principal Edwards-Smith led them in the turning of the tassels and recessional.

There was no school reception in an effort to uphold COVID mitigation protocols. Instead each graduate was sent home with a care package of cupcakes to enjoy with their family pod.

The RCA graduates were Aidan Katzenberger, Kayla Miller and Saije Stewart.

Graduating from the Kenai Peninsula Middle College program were Anderson Kempf, Kaegan Koski, Jellybean Normal (also a member of the National Honor Society), Maxwell Rogers, Calyssa Saporito-Mills and Tovia Owens (also a member of the National Honor Society).

Other middle college graduates who participated in different graduation ceremonies were Austin Adlam, Kaylee Fann, Autumn Fischer, Raelynn Passe and Tyra Vix.

Joining the RCA graduates from the Class of 2020 were Parker Kincaid and Charlie Rogers.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

Maxwell Rogers speaks at the River City Academy graduation in Soldotna, Alaska on Monday, May 17, 2021. He graduated from the Kenai Peninsula Middle College. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

Maxwell Rogers speaks at the River City Academy graduation in Soldotna, Alaska on Monday, May 17, 2021. He graduated from the Kenai Peninsula Middle College. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

Parker Kincaid, valedictorian of the River City Academy class of 2020, speaks at the 2021 commencement ceremony in Soldotna, Alaska on Monday, May 17, 2021. The class of 2020 was invited to attend because their graduation was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

Parker Kincaid, valedictorian of the River City Academy class of 2020, speaks at the 2021 commencement ceremony in Soldotna, Alaska on Monday, May 17, 2021. The class of 2020 was invited to attend because their graduation was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

Tovia Owens speaks at the River City Academy graduation in Soldotna, Alaska on Monday, May 17, 2021. She graduated as the valedictorian of Kenai Peninsula Middle College and was a part of the National Honor Society. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

Tovia Owens speaks at the River City Academy graduation in Soldotna, Alaska on Monday, May 17, 2021. She graduated as the valedictorian of Kenai Peninsula Middle College and was a part of the National Honor Society. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

Aidan Katzenberger speaks at the River City Academy graduation in Soldotna, Alaska on Monday, May 17, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

Aidan Katzenberger speaks at the River City Academy graduation in Soldotna, Alaska on Monday, May 17, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

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