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.