Kenai Central High School graduates prepare to enter the auditorium for their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates prepare to enter the auditorium for their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

‘The generation of change’

Kenai Central High School graduates 87

During a graduation ceremony on Wednesday night, Kenai Central High School Class President Kori Moore looked at her class of 87 graduating students and told them: “We are the generation of change.”

Moore said that herself and her peers had overcome the tumult that defined their high school careers — ushered in first by the Swan Lake Fire and then by the COVID-19 pandemic, which had lasting effects on all four of their years.

“We’ve always wanted everything to change,” she said. “I would give anything for everything not to change so fast.”

But that hardship, those years “we were all caught up in the mayhem,” she said, had only prepared the Class of 2023 to “push through whatever life throws at us.”

That sentiment was echoed by the valedictorians, Bridger Beck, Benjamin Boersma, Jayna Boonstra, Andrew Gaethle, Brianna Horton and Madison McDonald.

“There’s been a lot of ups and downs to our high school years,” they said. “They shape who we are today.”

The valedictorians challenged their peers to “make an impact on the world around us,” whether they remained in Alaska or spread anywhere else. They said that while each of the 87 graduating students are on their own journey through life, they are all at this moment together, “ready to begin a new chapter.”

Senior class speaker Irving “Roc” Riggle said that their senior year was their “only real and full” year of high school. On the same note, he said he never would have come to Alaska and joined his peers at KCHS without the pandemic.

Riggle said that he and his peers have persevered through difficult times and now emerge from KCHS “equipped with this priceless knowledge.” He said that now they embark on a new journey, with more challenges, but also more success.

“While the idea of materialistic success does influence our lives heavily, I ask that you follow your dreams and do what makes you happy,” he said. “Strive to be the best version of yourself and fly through the turbulence of life.”

That pursuit of happiness was central to the thoughts of Commencement Speaker and retiring science teacher Doug Armstrong, who told the students that in his twenties, he was told success is defined as having enough resources to do the things that you love to do. Today, he disagrees with that statement.

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you do, you will be successful,” he said.

Armstrong challenged each of the students to not be passive, instead to be active. To not “have a great day, but to “make a great day.” He said that after witnessing the hardship that his students thrived in, he knows that they’re prepared to end “the planning stage of their lives.”

“Make a great life. Be an active participant,” he said. “Take risks, go out into the storm. Don’t wait for happiness, and by extension success, to happen. Go out and get it because I know that you can.”

Spring 2023 graduates

Calvin Abrego

Kage Adkins

Adam Anglebrandt

Ashlynne Baughn+

Bridger Beck^

Cooper Bernard

Benjamin Boersma^

Jayna Boonstra^#

Sarai Bravo-Moe

John Carlo Bultsma

Charli Byrd

Christian Caddock

Ky Calvert

Bailee Carter

Benjamin Castrellon

Kevin Chaffee

Kimberly Chanley

Landen Cialek

Nekoda Cooper

Jessica Croom

Frenlee Ann Dagomos

Carlos Henrique De Carvalho

Isaac Denbrock

Shelby Easling

Kaitlyn Ensley

Elsie Fleming

Andrew Gaethle^

Carter Galloway

Jaden Garner

Ethan Gerow

Abigail Giles

Chloe Goldsby

Cody Good

Reagan Graves#

Malena Grieme#+

Carnell Gump

Zachary Halstead

Ransom Hayes

Calani Holmes

Maksym Holtsev

Brianna Horton^#+

Maryna Hurst

Mikeila Jardine

Parker Johnson%

Aicha Kisena

Zacharry Kitchen

Allie Knudsen

Marvin Kulowiyi-Oozeva

Jakob Kvasnikoff

Sierrah Lanahan

Dylan Landry

Gavin Langham

Chelsea-Ann Lawrence

Brandon Lee

Brooklyn Martin

Shania McCanna

Madison McDonald^#+

Daniel McRorie

Daxon Merveldt

Salvatore Andrea Monforte*

Maya Montague

Kori Moore

Dale Moses

Brylee Niland

Malerie Nunn

Anniya Otis-Faeo

Reymond Perez

Lathan Petersen

August Phillips

Jake Phillips

Jorgi Phillips

Anne Marie Pienta

Ryan Pierce

Alex Pujadas*

Brooklynn Reed

Irving Riggle

Zackary Rodman

Helena Rodrigues

Nolan Rogers

Jayden Sandahl

Daniel Shelden

Olivia Somers

Rylie Sparks

Cavan Swanson

Ayla Tallent

Daniel Taylor

Kaitlyn Taylor+

Silas Thibodeau

Alston Thomas

Genesis Trevino

Jesse VanRaden

William Vaudrin

Owen Whicker#

Risako Yasuda*

Ella Yragui

Key

Early Graduate — %

Honor Graduate — ^

National Honor Society — #

Service Cord — +

Foreign Exchange — *

Kenai Central High School graduates prepare to enter the auditorium for their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates prepare to enter the auditorium for their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Ayla Tallent and Kage Adkins prepare to enter the auditorium for their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Ayla Tallent and Kage Adkins prepare to enter the auditorium for their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates prepare to enter the auditorium for their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates prepare to enter the auditorium for their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates prepare to enter the auditorium for their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates prepare to enter the auditorium for their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates prepare to enter the auditorium for their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates prepare to enter the auditorium for their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates file into the auditorium for their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates file into the auditorium for their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Class President Kori Moore addresses the Kenai Central High School Class of 2023 during a graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Class President Kori Moore addresses the Kenai Central High School Class of 2023 during a graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Andrew Gathle, one of the valedictorians, addresses the Kenai Central High School Class of 2023 during a graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Andrew Gathle, one of the valedictorians, addresses the Kenai Central High School Class of 2023 during a graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Senior Class Speaker Irving “Roc” Riggle addresses the Kenai Central High School Class of 2023 during a graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Senior Class Speaker Irving “Roc” Riggle addresses the Kenai Central High School Class of 2023 during a graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Commencement Speaker Doug Armstrong addresses the Class of 2023 during the Kenai Central High School graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Commencement Speaker Doug Armstrong addresses the Class of 2023 during the Kenai Central High School graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates receive their diplomas during a graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates receive their diplomas during a graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates wait to receive their diplomas during a graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates wait to receive their diplomas during a graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates wait to receive their diplomas during a graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates wait to receive their diplomas during a graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates wait to receive their diplomas during a graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates wait to receive their diplomas during a graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates receive their diplomas during a graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates receive their diplomas during a graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates celebrate after their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates celebrate after their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates celebrate after their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates celebrate after their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates celebrate after their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates celebrate after their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates celebrate after their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates celebrate after their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates celebrate after their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates celebrate after their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates celebrate after their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates celebrate after their graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates and their friends and family fill the auditorium commons after the graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central High School graduates and their friends and family fill the auditorium commons after the graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

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