Performance artist Dasha Kelly Hamilton performs a slam poem for this year’s Homer High School graduates during the commencement address she gave with her husband and fellow poet Kima Hamilton on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at the school in Homer, Alaska. The pair travel to schools around the country, including Homer, to teach the writing and performance of poetry. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Homer High graduates 78 ‘dope humans’

Tuesday night, Homer area high school seniors rode their Doc Martens, Birkenstocks, Crocs and, yes, Xtratuf boots, into adulthood as they crossed the stage into their post-high school lives.

At Homer High School, friends Mia Alexson and Maggie Alston talked and fidgeted in a hallway just outside the Alice Witte Gymnasium with the rest of their peers.

Near the front of the line because of their names, the pair have been close together in more ways than one throughout their career as students of Homer.

They described themselves as “locker buddies for life,” explaining that they’ve had a locker next to the other every single year since middle school, which is when they became friends.

Alexson plans to head to Montana State University, and is currently undecided on her major. Alston will attend Washington State University to study digital technology and culture.

The friends described a favorite memory in which Alexson and another friend bought Alston a cake to get her to clean her very messy locker.

The pair said they’re glad to be done with their high school years.

“I hope I don’t trip,” Alston said.

Leading the pack of 78 graduates were the class of 2018’s four valedictorians: Douglas Dean, Benjamin Kettle, Denver Waclawski and Joshua Wisner. The group gave a combined speech during the commencement, during which they thanked teachers, friends and mentors and recounted the aspects of school and Homer that have formed them into the people they are today.

Waclawski spoke of the mountains across Kachemak Bay and how, no matter how much students actually got to go play in them, they’ll probably all take the constant looming backdrop with them as a piece of Homer wherever they go.

Waclawski is headed to Montana State University for mechanical engineering, as is Dean, who will study engineering.

Kettle will attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for computer science and electrical engineering.

Wisner is headed to Brown University for biology.

“Something that I think that we don’t necessarily address in our speech a ton is just like the culture of learning,” Waclawski said before the ceremony. “It sounds kind of cliche, but it’s like, people … aren’t ashamed to … be smart and take good classes.”

“Or like to learn just for the sake of learning without really having too many intentions in mind,” Wisner added.

This year’s commencement speakers had an unconventional connection to the Homer education community.

Rather than an alum or permanent staff member, the seniors chose as their keynote speakers a couple from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Dasha Kelly Hamilton and Kima Hamilton are performance artists and poets who travel the country and teach poetry workshops to school children.

They’ve been coming to Homer for years — beginning when slam poetry was a foreign concept to Homer, according to Principal Douglas Waclawski.

The couple even married at Land’s End Resort two years ago.

During their address the pair recalled the various projects they had Homer students complete over the years, and the life lessons those projects were meant to impart.

“So, our goal was never to make you writers. Spoiler alert,” Kima Hamilton said. “It was to make you dope humans.”

The couple stressed that, if the graduates took anything away from their teaching over the years, it ought to be that they should all be accountable for their speech.

Dasha Kelly Hamilton closed their address with a slam poem about the human body and how it supports the voice. Her poem told the enraptured graduates that they “must” use their voices and speak.

The 2018 Homer High graduates are:

Mia Elsie Alexson, Margaret Rose Alston, Emily Rose Arno, Stephanie Rene Ball, Kaitlyn Shea Baxter, Jordan David Beachy, Chloe June Bechtol, Oliver Ryan Beck, Sonja Loree Blackmon, Sean Michael Blaine, Timothy Allan Blakely, Cody Odell Bond, Maggie Claire Box, Adam Joseph Brinster, Richard Brock, Austin Tyler Brown, Landon William Bunting, Blaize Tucker Cabana, Elan Dungan Carroll, Joel David Carroll, Caleb Joshua Catlin, Alissa Marie Catlin, Theodore George Croft, Christopher L. Cudaback, Jacob Tyler Davis, Jay-Mason Heath Davis, Simon Michael Dye, Lotus Starlite Edgar, Koby Christopher Etzwiler, Liberty Marie Fabich, Dawson Douglas Felde, Brendon F. Fenex, Cheyenne Marie Gillette, David Lawrence Graham, Falcom Benjamin Greear, Gabrielle Kendra Gregory, Ethen Trent Groves, Blake Edward Hill, Isaac Dallas Jump, Benjamin Burton Kettle, Laci R. King, Levi Nathan King, Glikeria Kuznetsov, Garrison Lane, Sean Maxwell Love, Jacob Freeman Marquardt, Miranda Christina Martin, Charles Blane Menke, Samantha Nichole Moonin, Jaron Colt Morris, Alexandrea Marie Moseley, Amber Nicholle Pierce, Chloe Elfreda Pleznac, Tianna K. Post, Joseph Albert Ravin, Kendra Paige Raymond, Logan Daniel Reyes, Cole Fournier Roberts, Charles Benjamin Rohr, Mystique Kathleen Ross, Breanna Lindsey Smith, Andie Michelle Sonnen, Judith I. Stewart, Justin Lee Sumption, John Stephen Vanek, Denver Joshua Waclawski, Spencer Tate Warren and Kyle Andrew Wells.

Reach Megan Pacer at

Right: A sash reading “Class of 2018” hangs from a graduate performing with the Homer High School Concert Choir during the class’s commencement ceremony Tuesday, May 22 at the school in Homer. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News) Left: Ninilchik School graduate Joshua Wood listens to a speaker during his graduation ceremony Monday, May 21 at the school in Ninilchik. Wood plans to enter the emergency medical response field. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Graduate Falcom Greear (blue) performs “Sure on this Shining Night” with the Homer High School Concert Choir during the commencement ceremony for his class Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at the school in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Homer High School Principal Douglas Waclawski welcomes guests to the graduation ceremony for the class of 2018 on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at the school in Homer, Alaska. Waclawski’s son, Denver, was among the evening’s graduates and one of the four valedictorians. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Homer High School graduates await their ceremony outside the Alice Witte Gymnasium on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at the school in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Senior Chloe Pleznac sings with the Homer High School Concert Choir during the graduation ceremony for her and her classmates Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at the school in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Homer High School graduates Denver Waclawski (far left) and Jacob Davis (far right) pose with friends for a photo after their commencement ceremony Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at the school in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

A Homer High School graduate with a cap decorated to say “She may be little, but she is fierce,” listens during the commencement ceremony for her graduating class Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at the school in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Performance artists Dasha Kelly Hamilton (left) and Kima Hamilton give the commencement address for Homer High School’s graduating class Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at the school in Homer, Alaska. The pair, who travel to teach poetry writing and performance in schools across the country, have been made a big impact on the students in Homer. The class of 2018 enjoyed their teaching and message so much they chose the couple as their commencement speakers. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

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