Head of the Bay schools hold 2024 graduation ceremony

Voznesenka and Kachemak Selo celebrated graduates at Land’s End Resort

The Voznesenka and Kachemak Selo schools held their 2024 graduation ceremony at Land’s End Resort at 4:30 p.m. on May 16. It was a small ceremony with a graduating class of eight; one was not able to attend.

Principal Michael Wojciak was joined on the stage by four members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District: Eric Pederson, director of elementary education; Superintendent Clayton Holland; and two members of the school board, Tim Daugharty and Jason Tauriainen. The students entered the conference room and were seated by the windows facing the ferry terminal.

Wojciak provided initial opening comments and congratulations to the class.

“It’s great to see what great support these students have here in the room today but it goes without saying that that are many other people who could not be here who have provided their support, too. I also want to that the star-studded attendance that we have from the district. If you get a chance please let them know how much you’ve appreciated their support for our small schools.

“Whether it was athletics, diligence with school, procrastination, enjoying the elective classes or spending time with a favorite teacher or friends, each student has their memories. School is a prominent part of your childhood years and you hopefully come back to with appreciated memories for the rest of your lives,” he said.

He acknowledged that the school years are not always perfect. “Struggles are an inevitable part of life, however, everything you’ve learned, discovered, mastered will stay with you for the rest of your life. I hope each of you put forth the effort to get what you wanted from school because that time is now over.”

He concluded his opening address with a quote from Calvin Coolidge, America’s 30th President. “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

He provided a brief clarifying interpretation, that education is important but persistence and determination will make the difference in success not the sole education itself.

He welcomed the commencement speaker, Katherine Serge-Hoeschen, who taught for 22 years as the language arts teacher of Voznesenka School and who retired from the KPBSD in 2022, according to the district webpages.

Serge-Hoeschen also provided a thank you for support for the friends and family in the audience and staff from the schools.

“I am honored to be here as a former teacher at Voznesenka, I had the privilege of working with these students from the sixth grade until the 10th to the now capped adults sitting before. In our years together at Voznesenka, we survived all the weekday mornings together, we also survived icy roads and landslides, COVID, sanitizing wipes, the portable buildings, standardized tests and other challenges.

“I learned a great deal while teaching you including, respect for the culture, patience and perseverance, innovation and ways to be creative in my approach accessing personal skills, resilience and learning how to bounce back after a life challenge.”

She also noted some of the more candid or entertaining things she learned, various phrases of what she called “teen-glish” and youth social trends and noted one particular thing she learned from each graduating senior.

“Thank you for everything you taught me, seniors. I hope you remember my lessons to you: writing to clarify one’s thinking and the magic of the word ‘yet.’ You might not understand ‘yet,’ you might not be ready ‘yet,’ but you will get there. I myself am still being schooled; life continues to teach and I continue to learn.”

She pointed out that schools provide the opportunity to connect, explore and expand the mind, heart and soul and that education is a valuable resource, “earn it and own it.”

Kachemak Selo schools are not known for their size or high-class buildings with gymnasiums and fancy cafeterias, she said. The buildings are old, but that’s not what matters. “What Kachemak Selo schools are known for is their determination to maintain their culture, their language and their family values.” It’s not the buildings that matter, but the people.

Finally, she concluded her address by comparing the Head of the Bay schools to schools of fish. “You’ve been swimming together through various rough waters for 12 years, but you’ve made it through.”

Makary Reutov, student representative for both schools, provided a brief thank you address to the audience. He said students “will remember laughing with our friends, wherever we end up, whether we’re married with seven kids or a multimillionaire.”

“I believe we will look back at these years and smile.”

Principal Wojciak made an announcement of award recipients. Vasilisa Reutov-Matveev received the University of Alaska Scholars Award. The award is a $12,000 scholarship to Alaska high school students who are in the top 10% of their class at the end of their junior year and can be used at any University of Alaska campus.

Makary Reutov was awarded eight scholarships including the Lions Club Scholarship, Kachemak Board of Realtors Scholarship, Emblem Club and Rotary Club scholarships, the LFS scholarship, the Drew Scalzi Memorial Maritime Scholarship and finally, the Denali Scholarship from the Alaska Community Foundation. The value of the Denali Scholarship is $20,000.

The names of the graduates were read; each student presented a rose to their mother and returned to their seat. Then it was requested that they move their graduation tassel to the opposite side of their cap to indicate graduation was complete.

The ceremony concluded with photos on the Land’s End Deck and on the graduation stage and cake provided by the school.

2024 graduates

Antonina Afonin-Serebrekoff, Voznesenka

Kiril Kalugin, Voznesenka

Christopher Martishev, Voznesenka

Anastasia Reutov, Voznesenka

Vasilisa Reutov-Matveev, Voznesenka

Makary Reutov, Voznesenka

Ksenia Kuzmin, Kachemak Selo

Lydia Reutov, Kachemak Selo