Ninilchik grads get quirky, heartfelt send-off

  • Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News Ninilchik School graduate Chelsea Oberle-Lozano waits with her classmates to walk into their graduation ceremony Monday, May 21, 2018 at the school in Ninilchik, Alaska. Her graduation cap reads: “Stay anchored.”
  • Ninilchik School graduate Joshua Wood listens to a speaker during his graduation ceremony Monday, May 21, 2018 at the school in Ninilchik, Alaska. Wood plans to enter the emergency medical response field. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
  • Ninilchik School graduate Sabrina Ferguson walks into her graduation ceremony Monday, May 21, 2018 at the school in Ninilchik, Alaska, sporting a pair of Salmon Sister Xtratuf boots. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
  • Ninilchik School salutatorian Chelsea Oberle-Lozano gives her salutatorian address during her class’s ceremony Monday, May 21, 2018 at the school in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
  • Ninilchik School students hold up signs spelling out “(Heart) U Sabrina” while 2018 graduate Sabrina Ferguson walks across the stage to claim her diploma Monday, May 21, 2018 during a ceremony at the school in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
  • Ninilchik School valedictorian Olivia Delgado delivers her address to her six other classmates and the crowd at their graduation ceremony Monday, May 21, 2018 at the school in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
  • Ninilchik School graduate Robert McGinnis walks into his graduation ceremony Monday, May 21, 2018 at the school in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
  • Loren Leman, a 1968 Ninilchik School graduate and speaker for the current graduation class’s Monday, May 21, 2018 ceremony, walks back to his seat after returning a page of salutatorian Chelsea Oberle-Lozano’s speech that he accidentally took off the podium after his own speech. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
  • Members of the Ninilchik School graduating class of 2018 laugh and react as one of the speakers at their Monday, May 21, 2018 ceremony walks back to his seat at the school in Ninilchik, Alaska. The speaker accidentally took a page of salutatorian Chelsea Oberle-Lozano’s speech from the podium after finishing his own. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
  • Ninilchik School graduate Nathanael Corey walks into his graduation ceremony Monday, May 21, 2018 at the school in Ninilchik, Alaska. Corey has enlisted in the U.S. Military as a fire support specialist. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
  • Ninilchik School graduate Nicholas Kelson walks into his graduation ceremony Monday, May 21, 2018 at the school in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Monday night’s ceremony for the seven graduates of Ninilchik School was a lesson in going with the flow and adapting to unforeseen changes in the road ahead.

“So, we’re going to take a 3-minute break,” said Principal Jeff Amrosier as salutatorian Chelsea Oberle-Lozano rushed off to reprint her speech.

The third page mysteriously disappeared minutes before she gave the address. Luckily, amid roars of laughter from the graduates as the crowd gathered to watch them cross the stage into adulthood, speaker Loren Leman, former Alaska lieutenant governor and class of 1968 graduate, sheepishly returned the missing page to the podium, where he had accidentally pilfered it after his own address.

Valedictorian Olivia Delgado summed up the experience and the life lesson during her address when she said, “Tomorrow, everything could change.”

She stressed to her fellow graduates that all they have now are plans — nothing solid — and that they should get comfortable failing and making mistakes. That sentiment was echoed by almost every speaker Monday night, including teacher Penny Connealy, who the students chose to give their commencement address.

In addition to being OK with learning from failures, she reminded them to always be kind. The class of 2018 was the first group of elementary-age students Connealy taught when she joined Ninilchik School.

The speeches were followed by a slideshow showcasing each student, after which they handed out flowers to members of the audience who they felt had an impact on their time in high school.

The graduates will walk away from the school with more than their diplomas. Several of them received scholarships from community and statewide organizations, which were presented during the ceremony. With scholarships from the local American Legion Post, Ninilchik School, the University of Alaska system and the U.S. Army, the graduates got a solid head start on paying for their continued education.

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff presented the scholarships from the Soldotna Rotary. The organization presents eight awards annually to applicants from throughout the school district, she said. This year, three of the eight winners were among the Ninilchik graduates (Oberle-Lozano, Sabrina Ferguson and Robert McGinnis).

Oberle-Lozano plans to go into nursing. Joshua Wood is headed into the emergency medical services field.

Ninilchik School graduates:

Olivia Ann Delgado

Sabrina Rose Ferguson

Nicholas Loren Kelson

Robert A. McGinnis

Chelsea Jo Oberle-Lozano

Joshua Wood

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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