Monday night’s ceremony for the seven graduates of Ninilchik School was a lesson in going with the flow and adapting to unforeseen changes in the road ahead.
“So, we’re going to take a 3-minute break,” said Principal Jeff Amrosier as salutatorian Chelsea Oberle-Lozano rushed off to reprint her speech.
The third page mysteriously disappeared minutes before she gave the address. Luckily, amid roars of laughter from the graduates as the crowd gathered to watch them cross the stage into adulthood, speaker Loren Leman, former Alaska lieutenant governor and class of 1968 graduate, sheepishly returned the missing page to the podium, where he had accidentally pilfered it after his own address.
Valedictorian Olivia Delgado summed up the experience and the life lesson during her address when she said, “Tomorrow, everything could change.”
She stressed to her fellow graduates that all they have now are plans — nothing solid — and that they should get comfortable failing and making mistakes. That sentiment was echoed by almost every speaker Monday night, including teacher Penny Connealy, who the students chose to give their commencement address.
In addition to being OK with learning from failures, she reminded them to always be kind. The class of 2018 was the first group of elementary-age students Connealy taught when she joined Ninilchik School.
The speeches were followed by a slideshow showcasing each student, after which they handed out flowers to members of the audience who they felt had an impact on their time in high school.
The graduates will walk away from the school with more than their diplomas. Several of them received scholarships from community and statewide organizations, which were presented during the ceremony. With scholarships from the local American Legion Post, Ninilchik School, the University of Alaska system and the U.S. Army, the graduates got a solid head start on paying for their continued education.
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff presented the scholarships from the Soldotna Rotary. The organization presents eight awards annually to applicants from throughout the school district, she said. This year, three of the eight winners were among the Ninilchik graduates (Oberle-Lozano, Sabrina Ferguson and Robert McGinnis).
Oberle-Lozano plans to go into nursing. Joshua Wood is headed into the emergency medical services field.
Ninilchik School graduates:
Olivia Ann Delgado
Sabrina Rose Ferguson
Nicholas Loren Kelson
Robert A. McGinnis
Chelsea Jo Oberle-Lozano
Reach Megan Pacer at firstname.lastname@example.org.