Three graduation ceremonies were held on Sunday, May 29, as Juneau’s three high schools each saw off their classes of 2022.
While the shadow of the pandemic still laid on the graduates, ceremonies were once again in-person and full sized, with the ceremony and traditions of graduations in place once more.
Thunder Mountain High School
Hundreds of people packed into the Thunder Mountain High School gym on an uncharacteristically sunny day to celebrate the class of 2022. The heat and the humidity in the room were noted by two of the class valedictorians, Grace Sikes and Devin Moorehead, who delivered joint remarks to their classmates, friends and family.
“It’s an undeniable fact,” Moorehead said. “Our high school experience was shaped by the pandemic.”
But despite the significant disruptions, the two speakers said their class by it’s ability to deal with those challenges.
“It’s an undeniable fact,” Sikes said. “We are defined by our perseverance.”
Teacher Corrine Marks gave a speech evoking several famous works of fiction, including A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, telling students that like the character Piglet, everyone must be brave sometimes.
“You have inspired me with your braveness,” Marks said.
Paolo Bohulano, another valedictorian, was asked to give the class remarks, and he too mentioned how much the pandemic had shaped the high school experience, but told his classmates they’re were only getting started.
“No matter what happens, this is when it all really begins,” Bohulano said.
Yaakoosgé Daakahídi High School
Yaakoosgé Daakahídi High School graduates enjoyed a more personal graduation as their advisors, each responsible for a small group of students, spoke to the assembled crowd about their accomplishments.
The 36 graduating students were each recognized for the hard work they’d put in to graduate, and YDHS Principal Kristin Garot congratulated them for their efforts attaining their diplomas. Juneau School District Board of Education member Will Muldoon certified their graduations.
Garot also recognized a number of graduates for scholarships towards college they’d received.
Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé
Krisbenluissila (Ben) Iona embraced the virtual and viral spirit of “four years as high schoolers unlike any other” as the student speaker at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. He started by asking his peers and those in the crowd to ensure their phones and cameras were recording to TikTok (or wherever), making sure to “hashtag my name.”
Iona said the tradition of the senior prank seems to represent the experience of many JDHS graduates who entered as typical intrepid freshmen and are departing by prevailing through more than two years of COVID-19 related turmoil.
“The senior prank can be surprising, it can be funny, it can be annoying, it can be rude,” he said. “We just learn to get over it. That’s my message to you, Class of ’22; Get over it.”
Looking forward with a spirit of perseverance should remain the mindset of graduates, “even if (Principal) Paula Casperson doesn’t accept your friend request — get over it,” Iona said.
After Iona, honored this spring as a three-year member of the cheer team, urged the crowd to chant that “motto,” he offered his final charge to his peers.
“Let’s hashtag that!” he exclaimed.
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