Soldotna High School graduated its seniors on the school’s football field Tuesday night.
Principal Tony Graham welcomed students and their loved ones to the commencement ceremony and thanked everyone for attending.
After the Soldotna High Swing Choir performed the national anthem, Graham welcomed seniors Katie Delker, Brittany Lewis and Isaac Nagasako to the stage to perform their rendition of “Rivers and Road” by The Head and the Heart.
Delker was also the student body president and class valedictorian.
During an interview with the Clarion she said she’d describe the class of 2021 in one word: resilient.
“We’ve been through so much these past few years, even with the wildfires and we had a few students pass away,” she said. “We’ve just all kind of stuck together and we’ve pushed each other to be the best we can be.”
In her valedictorian speech at the ceremony, Delker read a poem her mother had written for her high school graduation. She spoke about the importance of holding onto the memories the class has made at Soldotna High, while moving on to a different stage in their lives.
Delker said she was grateful to be able to participate in a real graduation ceremony. Many of the school’s homecoming and holiday events were held remotely this year because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“This is an actual ceremony and it feels absolutely incredible,” she said.
Delker said she’ll most likely study psychology at Montana State University in Bozeman, and hopes to study abroad in Switzerland in a few years.
“I’m really looking forward to getting exposed to a lot more diversity,” she said. “I’ve loved living in Soldotna but I’m really excited to … go out and see the world.”
Soldotna High’s salutatorian was Olivia Davis. During her speech at the ceremony, she described the Class of 2021 as little fish in sometimes dark and dangerous waters.
“We out-swam whatever tried to eat us,” Davis said in her commencement speech. “We are here. We are present. We are graduating today. Let’s not allow the dark to shrink us into oblivion.”
Nathan Erfurth, a government and history teacher at Soldotna High, was the guest speaker.
He asked the kids to remember to live their lives with a sense of sonder — a realization that each random passerby is living their own vivid and complex life.
Erfurth said everyone is the main character in their book of life. The book contains dialogue, chapters, good and bad, but it is just one book on a shelf with hundreds of thousands of others.
He told the graduates to make sure they appear as kind side characters in other books when given the opportunity, choosing courteous words and actions.
“They too were dropped on this Earth and are trying to make sense of their context,” Erfurth said. “You are a story. We are all here sharing a paragraph together. Our stories are interwoven and complex. Trust that your book is a good one.”
Spencer Kapp and Erika Arthur presented the senior superlatives to the audience, and then Graham presented each student with their diploma.
The ceremony ended with Graham leading the class in the symbolic turning of the tassels and the recessional.
Reach reporter Camille Botello at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Soldotna High School graduates:
Austin Adlam, Israel Aley, Erika Arthur*, Ashlyn Asp*, Madelyn Barkman, Joshua Bayhi, Adison Beck, Joshua Bond, Morgan Bouschor, Foster Boze, Gavin Brennan*, Margie Brown*, Nathan Brown, Nevaeh Bunch, Zachary Burns, Hunter Carr, Candice Christensen, Brandon Christenson, Nathaniel Corbett, Emma Coup, Elisha Cravens, Drysta Crosby-Schneider, Airah Cude, Aidan Culver, Liam Culver, Olivia Davis*, River Dawson, Tessa Dearmore, Daltyn Deborski, Katherine Delker*, Cannen Demientieff, Siobhan Dempsey, Seraiah Dorman, Nathaniel Downs, Andrew Drake, Taylor Edwards, John Einerson, Timothy Elder, Austin Escott, Kaylee Fann, Adin Fielden, Autumn Fischer, Cloey Followell, Cheyenne Friedersdorff, Mack Frost, Abbie Fullenwider, Michael Gagnon, Dace Gardner, Ryder Giesler, Jacee Gilmore, MeKhenzy Goad, Kegan Gottlob, Mahlia Graham, Marissa Griffin, Katherine Gross, Gavin Haakenson, Cassiopeia Haskins, Paige Hegwer, Jack Heintz, Maya Hilton, Dylan Hogue, William Hoover, Alana Houser, Thomas Hudson*, Jessiah James, Tyler Johnson, Jaedon Jones, Macayla Jones, Spencer Kapp, Cassidy King*, Taylor King, Kati Koch, Hannah Krebs-Northrop, Sierra Kuntz, Noah Land, Ethaniel Lavea*, Thomas Leete, Joseph Lester, Brittany Lewis, Cyanna Lindquist, Ree’Lynn Lisenby, Felix Lybarger, Loretta Maal, Hailey Mahaffey, Claudia Martinez, Kiernan McCarter, Clifford McElrea, Grace McElroy, Jose Montague, Isaac Nagasako, Trenton O’Reagan, Nadia Padilla-Reaume, Snowy Pannell, Joshua Pieh, Nathan Pitka, Janessa Pontious, Connor Potier, Abby Radeck, Avery Reid, Zachary Renner, , Sarah Rice, Bethany Richmond, Giovanni Rigutto, Ricardo Rincon, Joshua Riske, Brian Riss, Makenzie Rolenc, Michael Rutledge, Taylor Schouweiler, Hunter Secor, William Simmons, Trevor Slaughter, Silas Smyth, Cameron Sorenson, Derek Spezialy, Jordan Spies, Kristina Spies, Willow Sproates, Laynee Strausbaugh, Cole Stubblefield, Crystle Tapia, Cara Taylor, Dennis Taylor, Harley Thomas, Summer Tugan, , Nathaniel Tuttle, Zachary Ulrich, Kalee Vanderwall, Hosanna VanHout, Tyra Vix, Kaytlynn Walden, Dylan Walton, Deloma Watkins, Gabreal White, Aiden Willets, Anna Faron Williams, , Ethan Yeager, Bryce Zimmer and Zoey Zurfluh.
Asterisks are indicative of students who graduated as members of the National Honor Society.