‘You are the newest part of our legacy’

Homer High School Class of 2024 congratulated as they begin next chapter of their lives

Homer High School graduated 84 seniors in front of a packed high school gymnasium Tuesday evening during the Class of 2024 commencement ceremony.

Presiding over the event was Principal Douglas Waclawski, joined on stage by Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Assistant Superintendent Kari Dendurent and school board member Tim Daugharty, as well as class sponsors Erin Bregge, Winter Marshall-Allen and Michael Tozzo.

Homer High School band provided the processional music. A choir selection was performed by both the Homer High School concert choir and swing choir.

“Our graduates have embraced challenges and overcome obstacles,” Waclawski said in his opening address. “Some of these graduates struggled, some cried while doing homework. The truth of it is, true learning is not always comfortable and true learning is not always testable. What is learned is not always a part of the curriculum. But, every one of these students who made it to this point is ready for their future. They got here in many different ways. They made it to the finish line.”

He noted that whatever path the newly graduated class chooses next, whether college or the workforce, that they should remember they are a part of the Mariner Way and the Homer community.

“Homer is a special place and that you will take with you wherever you go,” he said. “The support, the atmosphere, the water, the people are special. No matter where you go, you can always come back to Homer. So, let’s cheer our graduates on their next adventure. Congratulations to the Class of 2024.”

Michelle Borland, social studies teacher, who has taught with KPBSD for 19 years, provided the commencement address. She also teaches one of the school’s most popular elective courses — foods.

Borland, who said she was thankful for the opportunity to present, said every year at graduation she wears her own graduation ring and Mariner Wheel pendant that she received when she graduated from Homer High School.

“I wear this black robe that once belonged to the late and great Jim Holcomb and usually I sit back and observe and enjoy the show. But this year, ever since I was told I was selected to give this talk I knew I needed to do a little more,” she said. Noting that it was a difficult process.

Ultimately, she provided memories to some of the seniors and noted the network between the senior students, faculty, family and community members of Homer. She congratulated some of the 2024 students in the graduation class with multigenerational roots in the community, listing well-known family names of graduates from the school: Glidden, Drake, Jones and Walli-Sweeny.

Borland told the graduates, “You’ve all left an impression, whether you have meant to or not.”

She also provided a “personalized list of suggestions” that the graduates could pick and choose from.

For example: Regardless of how much technology you use in your everyday life, build relationships with other humans, unplug once in awhile. Nobody really knows what they’re going to do with their life just pick something and do it.

Next on the list: No one has a perfect life and no one can do everything. Make good and healthy choices, be involved and participate. If you’re going to do a job, do it well. Don’t procrastinate, have a sense of humor and breathe.

Finally, “Be proud of who you are and where you come from. Stretching back to the mid-1920s the schools were established in Homer and it was not easy to get an education back then but they persevered through statehood, a catastrophic earthquake, just as you have done in your own time,” she said.

“As of tonight, you are the newest part of our legacy.”

Paul Story, counselor, presented scholarships and awards. Thirty-four students were listed in the program as award recipients.

Valedictorian of the 2024 class is Spencer Co, GPA 4.378, and salutatorian is Lucas Story, GPA 4.666. They gave a mutual address.

“This day marks 13 years in the public school system for most of us,” Co told the crowd.

But, it isn’t the time in classes that the graduating class will recall but the memories provided by faculty and classmates, he said. “That’s what will remain in our hearts.”

After Co’s welcome, Story noted that they wanted to provide some personal thank-you’s to faculty and staff. These were provided to people who helped the graduating class navigate through their years of elementary education.

The thank-you list included personal notes to Daniel Newsted, Jan Spurkland, Kyle Schneider, Vicki Lowe, Andrea Stineff, Michelle Borland, Erin Bregge, the freshman hallway, bathroom vape detectors, junior class boys, HHS Booster Club, Paul Story, Tim Daugharty, Eric Pederson, Douglas Waclawski and all other members of family and staff.

They ended with a shout, “We love you Homer High!”

A slide presentation was provided by the senior yearbook staff showing personal photo slide for each graduate, many included childhood and elementary school photos.

Tim Daugharty provided general acceptance of the Cass of 2024.

“As board member of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, I acknowledge the achievements and new status of the Class of 2024. Will the Homer class of 2024 please present themselves to receive their diplomas?”

Douglas Waclawski announced each graduate by name as they crossed the stage to receive their diploma.

Finally, “Graduates, please rise. It is my honor to present to you the class of 2024, congratulations!”

A crowded reception commenced in the Homer High School Commons where graduates were congratulated by members of the audience.

Homer High School Class of 2024

Akia Samantha Angel**

Saharat Anderson

Regan Leilani Baker

Blaise Augustine Banks

Zane Ernesto Barnes

Audrey Kay Bartel

Briar Lynn Boyd

William Paul Bradshaw

Alaiyah Nicole Brost

Wade Nelson Carroll

Seth Xavier Chandler

Bryce Michael Christensen

Spencer Kuan Co

Brenna Michelle Cox

Isaac Cary Lynn Cox

Talli Salome Dalke

Justice Allen Davidson

Ariana Taylor Davis

Ella Smith Davis

Logan Francisco Dias

Nikole Lyn Drake

Riley Nicohle Drake

Stella Dye

Keegan Charles Elkington

Alivia Penelope Fefelov

Charlotte Kitri Fraley

Albert Dean Freeman

Tanner Jo Gallios

Maggie Mae Gaylord

Bryce Marin Thompson Glidden

Hadley Gale Thompson Glidden

Addison Christine Grimes

Emma Daniel Grimes

Julie Estelle Guess

Zaiden Leo Alexi Carlson Haunschild

Ally Michelle High

Goldie Evelyn Hill

Tucker Ellis Hiller

Ava Lorriane Johnson

Carlie Rae Johnson

Kavindra Bree Johnson

Autumn Charlotte Grace Jones

Chase Westin Jones

Lily Rose King

Lillie Mae Kuhn

Faith Christiana Latham

Caden River Latta

Xander Laki Long

Jasmine Ann Lurus

Charity Kay Martin

Jonah Ryan Martin

Christian Chadwick Matthews

Brieanna Rose Miller

Elsa Catherine Boyd Milne

Clark Evan Milstead

Abigail Linda Morgan

Vincent Lee Neal

Elsa Merril Otis

Nathan Edward Overson

Emily Anne Owens

Hazel Alma Pearson

Alana Lorene Prescott

Malachi Michael Raymond

Frida Renner*

Minadora L. Reutov

Haylee Shea

Sydney Eva Shelby

Caitlin Luella Smith

Noah Xavier Smith

Poppy Gisela Smith

Noah Katahdin Spencer

Hope Katrina Stearns

Stephen Lake Steiner

Danika Lynn Stiles*

Izaac Henry Stineff

Lucas John Story

Alexandria Pearl Sweeney

Jake Leo Marley Tappan

Nathaniel Troy Theisen

Angelo James Toci*

Ryan David Veal

Johannah Sue Wickstrom

Camden Richard Wise

Cyrus Elijah Wood

Bailey Rose Marie Young

** Foreign exchange student

* Early graduate

Ella Davis, Homer High School graduate, stands with sophomore Marina Co in the Homer High School Commons post-commencement ceremony on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Homer, Alaska. (Emilie Springer/Homer News)

Ella Davis, Homer High School graduate, stands with sophomore Marina Co in the Homer High School Commons post-commencement ceremony on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Homer, Alaska. (Emilie Springer/Homer News)

Homer High School class of 2024 rises at the end of the Tuesday evening commencement program before heading to the Commons to be welcomed by friends and family.  Emilie Springer/ Homer News

Ella Davis, Homer High School graduate, stands with sophomore Marina Co in the Homer High School Commons post-commencement ceremony on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Homer, Alaska. (Emilie Springer/Homer News)