Homer High School’s Alice Witte Gymnasium bleachers and floor space were packed Monday at the 2023 commencement ceremony, in which about 80 Homer seniors celebrated the end of their high school career.
Ahead of the ceremony, students mingled in excitement in the sports hallway, lining up to walk toward seats set up in the gymnasium while the high school band played the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance.”
Principal Doug Waclawski presided over the ceremonies, introducing the swing choir’s “Star Spangled-Banner,” concert choir’s “Omnia Sol” and an address by soccer coach Adam Diaz.
Diaz presented a brief talk about gratitude, about never giving up and recognizing the community members — family, friends, teachers, coaches — who put in the great effort to support the graduating class of 2023 and all of those to come. Diaz asked the graduating class to “please take a moment to consider who you are thankful for? What did these people provide for you and how have you applied it to how you live your life?”
He concluded by saying, “Life is a constant teacher and you will be in a constant state of learning. Mariners should strive to hold fast to the helm at all costs, through any storm, through any setbacks.”
Counselor Paul Story expressed congratulations to the class and presented an impressive array of generous scholarships and awards. The scholarship awardees were published in the program as well.
Three seniors provided the evening valedictorian address: Bristol Johnson, Seamus McDonough and Hannah Stonorov. McDonough began the address with thanks to teachers and staff for all they have provided through the years.
In turns, the trio then listed a few skills they’d wished they had learned. For example, “how to do taxes,” “how to spell valedictorian”, “my locker combo” and “public speaking.”
“Standing here tonight, I really wish someone had taught me some public speaking skills,” Johnson said.
McDonough in jest mentioned that he wished he’d learned more about “the salmon life cycle.”
“No, just kidding. We’ve been taught that pretty much every year,” he said.
Joking aside, Stonorov said the list of things they have yet to learn served as a lesson for the graduates.
“Making this list of things we do not know shows how much more there is for us to find,” she said. “We are graduating today, but will keep learning each day after.”
Stonorov concluded the address with word of encouragement for fellow seniors.
“Dive into the experiences around yourselves and endeavor to learn,” Stonorov told the crowd.
Principal Waclawski then presented the class as a whole to the audience. Kenai Peninsula School District board member Tim Daugharty recognized the seniors on behalf of the borough and then each student was welcomed to the stage and presented a diploma.
After thanking volunteers who made the ceremony possible, Waclawski asked the graduates to rise.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my honor to present to you the Homer High School class of 2023. Congratulations!”
Homer High 2023 graduates
Mohamed Habib Loukil
Thi Cat Tran
Charles Van Meter