Flex School graduates stand before the start of graduation ceremonies on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, at Land’s End Resort in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Flex School graduates stand before the start of graduation ceremonies on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, at Land’s End Resort in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

13 graduate from Homer Flex School

With usually about a dozen high school students graduating from Flex School, ceremonies tend to be intimate and informal — and with a lot of tears. Last Wednesday at Land’s End Resort, commencement for Homer’s alternative high school lived up to that tradition.

Instead of a valedictorian speech, every student had the chance to say a few words. They laughed, they told jokes and they all thanked family, friends, teachers and counselors who helped them make it to graduation.

Mostly, they thanked their moms.

“My highest thank you goes to my mom,” said Hailee Fisher, who wore a graduation gown she made herself with help from school counselor Ingrid Harrald. “Props to all the single mothers out there. It’s hard. It’s been rough, but I made it.”

“There are so many things you gave up and sacrificed for me so I could get a good education,” Natalie Cooper said of her mother.

“She’s the strongest, most resilient woman I know,” Elizabeth Prescott said. “Thank you, Mom, for always picking me up and guiding me to success.”

Other graduates talked about their Flex experience and how fellow students, teachers and staff helped them succeed

“I have never felt more welcome, more at home than I have been at the Flex community,” Prescott said. “My voice, my opinions and my needs all matter. I am a Phoenix for life.”

“When I got here I was made welcome. I laughed, I cried, I fell into rivers,” Kalah Cuddy said. “… I danced, I adventured with people. … Flex has been the light at the end of my dark tunnel.”

“If it wasn’t for ourselves, none of us would be here. It’s because of grit,” said Aurianna Richtback. “… We made it to this moment. That’s crazy and awesome. We did it.”

“Keep doing what you do: inspire, encourage,” Samantha Martin said to her friends. “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”

Flex teachers and staff gave the commencement address, coming up one by one to offer advice. Teacher David Lefton talked about how graduation encouraged him at other times.

“On those days when nothing goes right, I try to remember this day: graduation,” he said. “… Recognize that education comes in many forms and seize the opportunities that come to you.”

“Be kind to yourself in this time of transition,” said school secretary Beth Schneider. “Things will not always be smooth. Thank you for choosing our school.”

“It’s not easy graduating from high school — depression and anxiety,” said counselor Ingrid Harrald. “… Things don’t have to be perfect to be wonderful. Even when things aren’t as awesome as you want them to be, just enjoy. Just enjoy.”

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.

Homer Flex Graduates of 2019

Natalie Cooper

Kalah Cuddy

Hailee Fisher

Cassidy Lush

Jazmine Martin

Samantha Martin

Sean Moran

Colten Morris

Elizabeth Prescott

James Pyatt

Nikola Reutov

Aurianna Richtback

Donald Woods

Samantha Martin walks in at the start of Flex School graduation ceremonies on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, at Land’s End Resort in Homer, Alaska. Martin wore cowboy boots, and her hat read, “Blame it all on my roots / I showed up in boots.” (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Samantha Martin walks in at the start of Flex School graduation ceremonies on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, at Land’s End Resort in Homer, Alaska. Martin wore cowboy boots, and her hat read, “Blame it all on my roots / I showed up in boots.” (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Hailee Fisher poses for a photo after graduation ceremonies on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, at Land’s End Resort in Homer, Alaska. Fisher made her own robe with help from Flex counselor Ingrid Harrald. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Hailee Fisher poses for a photo after graduation ceremonies on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, at Land’s End Resort in Homer, Alaska. Fisher made her own robe with help from Flex counselor Ingrid Harrald. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Hailee Fisher receives her diploma from Flex School Principal Christopher Brown at graduation ceremonies on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, at Land’s End Resort in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Hailee Fisher receives her diploma from Flex School Principal Christopher Brown at graduation ceremonies on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, at Land’s End Resort in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Samantha Martin’s mortar board hat is one of several that Flex Students decorated at graduation ceremonies on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, at Land’s End Resort in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Samantha Martin’s mortar board hat is one of several that Flex Students decorated at graduation ceremonies on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, at Land’s End Resort in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Colten Morris wears goofy glasses while he gives his graduation speech for the Flex School commencement ceremonies on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, at Land’s End Resort in Homer, Alaska. In the small graduating classes of Flex, it’s traditional for graduates to each have the opportunity to speak. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Colten Morris wears goofy glasses while he gives his graduation speech for the Flex School commencement ceremonies on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, at Land’s End Resort in Homer, Alaska. In the small graduating classes of Flex, it’s traditional for graduates to each have the opportunity to speak. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Graduate Sean Moran, second from left, poses with his family after at graduation ceremonies on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, at Land’s End Resort in Homer, Alaska. At left is his mother, Amanda Moran, at far right is his brother, Joseph Moran, and second from right is his father, Donald Moran. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Graduate Sean Moran, second from left, poses with his family after at graduation ceremonies on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, at Land’s End Resort in Homer, Alaska. At left is his mother, Amanda Moran, at far right is his brother, Joseph Moran, and second from right is his father, Donald Moran. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

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