‘Dive into experiences and endeavor to learn’

Graduates receive accolades, advice, farewell in 2023 commencement ceremony

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

Elias Allen

Jett Allen

Anthony Basargin

Warren Baxter

Bernard Black

Katelyn Boettner

Lliam Boss-Harmon

Tyler Brewer-Cote

Dani Burge

Taylor Burge

Kayden Crosby

Nevaeh Diaz

Leah Dunn

Isabel Dye

Bethany Engebretsen

Olivia Etzwiler

Leah Evans

Trent Fell

Eryn Field

Cecilia Fitzpatrick

Sidney Flora

Chloe Gall

Aubree Gallick

Amber Gilbreath

Simon Gucer

Seth Hammond

Austin Hanson

Luke Hanson

Sienna Hardyman

Lauren Harris

Alana Houlihan

Jack Hrenchir

Caleb Hurless

Zion Iida-Becerrill

Isabella Jansen

Bristol Johnson

Mylan Johnson

Jack Kain

Mohamed Habib Loukil

Thatcher Lowney

Ashlen Malchoff

Maria Maly

Zachary Marley

Seamus Mcdonough

Theodor Mcdonough

Angelia Mcghee

Sameah Mcghee

Jonah Mershon

Che Miller

Johnathan Mitchell

Sabina Morin

Hayden Mullikin

Anna Neland

Lucas Nollar

Seth Noot

Russell Nyvall

Thea Person

Owen Pitzman

Lars Pleznac

Andrew Rhoden

Abigail Riedel

Braedyn Romeril

Leilani Sallison

Lance Seneff

Brooke Shafer

David Sims

Andrew Skillingstad

Colton Skillingstad

Kian Smith

Coleman Stephens

Zachary Stevenson

Hannah Stonorov

Owen Storm

Morgen Techie

Carter Tennison

Thi Cat Tran

Irais Turner

Charles Van Meter

Loriauna Vandecoevering

Casper Von

Damon Weisser

Brennen Young

Homer High School graduating seniors gather in the school's hallway before the commencement ceremony, Monday, May 15, 2023, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Emilie Springer/ Homer News)
From left: Valedictorians Bristol Johnson, Seamus McDonough and Hannah Stonorov address Homer High School 2023 graduating seniors in the Homer High School’s Alice Witte Gymnasium, May 15, 2023, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by  Emilie Springer/ Homer News)