Graduates wear decorated caps during Soldotna High School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates wear decorated caps during Soldotna High School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

‘We never fell down’

Soldotna High School honors more than 100 graduates

The sun shone brightly on Soldotna High School’s 2022 graduating class Wednesday night, where more than 100 students celebrated the end of their high school career on Justin Maile Field.

Graduate Gabrielle Lane sang the national anthem and joined Regan Evans and Evelyn Wilcox for a performance of Nora Jones’ “Sunrise.” Graduates Quinten Cox, Gabrielle Lane and Jordan Strausbaugh led the group in turning tassels before they all tossed their hats in the air.

Attendees observed a moment of silence for Lisa Thomas, a Soldotna High School educator who died last November after a battle with cancer. Soldotna High School Principal Sarge Truesdell described Thomas as a member of the school family who affected numerous graduating classes.

“She was an outstanding and dedicated teacher who had such a large impact on not only this graduating class but years and years prior,” Truesdell said.

Class Salutatorian Jordan Strausbaugh, who said she hopes to attend medical school and become a surgeon, told graduates to take risks in the pursuit of their goals and to always take action when it comes to the things they’re passionate about.

“Don’t ever let people talk down on you, or tell you that you are incapable of doing something because anything is possible, as long as you take initiative and put effort into all that you do,” Strausbaugh said.

Valedictorians Ivy Daly and Alissa Powell gave a joint speech peppered with sardonic jokes about the COVID-19 pandemic and Zoom and lamentations about senioritis. In reflecting on some of the challenges graduates have faced, from the move from the Soldotna Prep building to Soldotna High to the COVID pandemic, Daly and Powell dubbed the class “persistent” rather than “resilient.”

“To be persistent is to trudge through the mud even though you keep slipping,” Powell said. “To drag yourself along that rock bottom (that) they shove you to, because you know that it will get better and that giving up is not going to expedite the process. We are the class that never gave in. We never had to pick ourselves back up because we never fell down.”

Keynote Speaker Darren Zibell gave what he called a “commencement roast,” in which he poked fun at Gen Z culture staples like Crocs, “mumble rap,” mullets, slides and socks and Juice WRLD. Zibell told graduates that they can think of life as being composed of four variables that add up to a life of value and purpose: what you’re good at, what you can be paid for, what you love to do and what the world needs.

“You all look ready to get out there and join the big wide world,” Zibell said. “It’s loud, busy, constantly moving. It will be very easy to feel off course in the current chaos. … You’re coming into adulthood in the midst of the fourth turning — the winter of history. Times are tough, and you must be tougher than the times.”

Helping present diplomas Wednesday were Soldotna High School Yearbook Advisor Stephanie Hunt, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Director of Secondary Education and former SoHi Principal Tony Graham and KPBSD Board of Education member Penny Vadla.

With their diplomas, graduates were given a white rose — their class flower.

Soldotna High School’s 2022 commencement ceremony can be streamed in full on the school’s Facebook page.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

Graduates

Ashlee Anderson

Taylor Andrew

Chloe Armstrong

Saiyan Baker

Bobbi Barker

Emily Barto

Evan Bergevin

Trenton Boots

Conor Boyd

Katharine Bramante *

Emma Brantley *

Tanner Brooks

Trinity Bruner

Ellie Burns

Taylor Bynum

Bridget Cameron

Rhys Cannava *

Korbin Carter

Ross Christian

Landen Chumley

Masie Clark

Maddison Collinson

Wyatt Conner

Damiana Coppola #

Quinten Cox *

Tyler Cox

Dylan Dahlgren *

Ivy Daly *

Dylan Davidhizar

Carson Dement

Maleda Denbrock

Tristan Edmondson

Aubrie Ehret

Hannah Engle

Regan Evans

Brayden Fain

Pierce Felix-Hughes

Ever Fielden

Montana Fischer

Atticus Gibson

Tytus Gilbert

Matthew Gist

Caleigh Glassmaker

Louis Grimaldi

Rhiley Halverson

William Hamby

Noah Harper

Cole Hawkins

Blaine Hayes

Austin Hemphill

Jordan Henley

Jackson Henson

Kade Honey

Panisa Haewon Hong #

Joshua Jelliff

Caiden Johnson

Harley Johnson

Nathanael Johnson *

Riley Johnson

Austin Kennington-Thomas

Jessica Kimes

Cody Koch

Gabrielle Lane *

Keegan Lorring

Cesar Mariscal

Gannon McMillan-Canfield

Austen McQueen

Wayne Mellon

Alexis Melvin

Nathaniel Mickel

Samuel Milbauer

Ian Miller

Devan Moore

Josephine Moore

Noah Moore

Dianne Nasibog *

Harmony Nelson

Joshua O’Lena

Janel Olsen

Isaac Pontius

Alissa Powell *

Briar Reaktenwalt

Emmy Reese

Conner Reynolds

Joshua Riley

Gabriel Robles

Isabella Rodriguez

Jordan Ruffner

Thea Scanlon

Zekarias Schwartz

Ayden See

Ethan Sewell

Kaidence Shaeffer

Deanna Shepard

Kelsey Siefner

Tristin Sipes

Kaidan Spies

Ashton Stonecipher

Landin Stonecipher

Jordan Strausbaugh *

Carly Sturman

Thsheaiy Sullivan

Thitiworada Thitisakulwong #

Justine Thomas

Isabella Tough

Cody Uribe-Koivisto

Isabella Valenzuela *

Kaden Vanderwall

Alice VanHoose

Kaden Verba

Jolie Widaman

Avery Willets *

Brock Wilson

Emylee Wilson

Cody Wolfe

Wyatt Wurst

Aleena Zener

Michael Zichko

Rusty Zufelt

——

Key:

* – National Honor Society member

# – Foreign exchange student

Graduate Gabrielle Lane sings the national anthem during Soldotna High School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduate Gabrielle Lane sings the national anthem during Soldotna High School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates wait to receive diplomas during Soldotna High School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates wait to receive diplomas during Soldotna High School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna High School Principal Sarge Truesdell speaks during the school’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna High School Principal Sarge Truesdell speaks during the school’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

From left: Gabrielle Lane, Regan Evans and Evelyn Wilcox perform a rendition of Nora Jones’ “Sunrise” during Soldotna High School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

From left: Gabrielle Lane, Regan Evans and Evelyn Wilcox perform a rendition of Nora Jones’ “Sunrise” during Soldotna High School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna High School Salutatorian Jordan Strausbaugh speaks during the school’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna High School Salutatorian Jordan Strausbaugh speaks during the school’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna High School Valedictorians Ivy Daily, left, and Alissa Powell speak during the school’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna High School Valedictorians Ivy Daily, left, and Alissa Powell speak during the school’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Darren Zibell delivers the commencement address at Soldotna High School’s graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Darren Zibell delivers the commencement address at Soldotna High School’s graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

From center left: Stephanie Hunt, Penny Vadla and Tony Graham congratulate graduates receiving their diplomas during Soldotna High School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

From center left: Stephanie Hunt, Penny Vadla and Tony Graham congratulate graduates receiving their diplomas during Soldotna High School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates cheer on their peers during Soldotna High School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates cheer on their peers during Soldotna High School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates prepare to receive their diplomas at Soldotna High School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates prepare to receive their diplomas at Soldotna High School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates throw their caps into the air at the end of Soldotna High School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Graduates throw their caps into the air at the end of Soldotna High School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

More in News

Nate Rochon cleans fish after dipnetting in the Kasilof River, on June 25, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
King closures continue; Kasilof dipnet opens Saturday

The early-run Kenai River king sport fishery remains closed, and fishing for kings of any size is prohibited

An "Al Gross for Congress" sign sits near the driveway to Gross’ home in Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, after he announced plans to withdraw from the U.S. House race. Gross has given little explanation in two statements for why he is ending his campaign, and a woman who answered the door at the Gross home asked a reporter to leave the property. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Alaska judge rules Sweeney won’t advance to special election

JUNEAU — A state court judge ruled Friday that Alaska elections officials… Continue reading

Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion 
Soldotna City Manager Stephanie Queen listens to a presentation from Alaska Communications during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska.
ACS pilots fiber program in certain peninsula neighborhoods

The fiber to the home service will make available the fastest internet home speeds on the peninsula

Nurse Tracy Silta draws a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the walk-in clinic at the intersection of the Kenai Spur and Sterling Highways in Soldotna, Alaska on Wednesday, June 9, 2021. COVID-19 vaccines for kids younger than 5 years old are now approved by both the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)
COVID shots for kids under 5 available at public health

Roughly 18 million kids nationwide will now be eligible to get their COVID vaccines.

Megan Mitchell, left, and Nick McCoy protest the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning of Roe v. Wade at the intersection of the Kenai Spur and Sterling highways on Friday, June 24, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Heartbroken’, ‘Betrayed’: Alaskans react to Roe decision

Supreme Court decision ends nearly 50 years of legally protected access to abortion

Demonstrators gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years, a decision by its conservative majority to overturn the court’s landmark abortion cases. (AP Photo / Jose Luis Magana)
Alaskans react to Supreme Court overturn of Roe v. Wade

The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion.

Tara Sweeney, a Republican seeking the sole U.S. House seat in Alaska, speaks during a forum for candidates, May 12, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/ Mark Thiessen)
Lawsuit says Sweeney should advance in Alaska US House race

The lawsuit says the fifth-place finisher in the special primary, Republican Tara Sweeney, should be put on the August special election ballot

Gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker stands in the Peninsula Clarion office on Friday, May 6, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Alaska AFL-CIO endorses Walker, Murkowski, Peltola

The AFL-CIO is Alaska’s largest labor organization and has historically been one of its most powerful political groups

A portion of a draft letter from Jeffrey Clark is displayed as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to reveal its findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Federal agents search Trump-era official’s home, subpoena GOP leaders

Authorities on Wednesday searched the Virginia home of Jeffrey Clark

Most Read