Students around Bristol Bay are about to start summer vacation. For seniors, it’s a significant time of year. They have celebrated prom and taken their finals. Now, they are graduating. Dillingham congratulated the 37 seniors Friday.
There’s a buzz in the air on graduation night. The gymnasium is filled with nerves and excitement as the students prepare for the next chapter in their lives.
Amber Halverson is getting ready to walk, and she is anxious about the ceremony.
“Nervous mainly,” she said. “Because it’s my last year and I easily get stage fright.”
Another senior, Matthew Krause, said this year brought academic challenges.
“I had some downfalls,” he said. “I saw them and I did the work that needs to be required and I’m very excited. Happy and proud, it’s finally over – finally.”
Krause heads to Northern Industrial Training this fall for vocational training in mechanics. His dream job is to work as an automotive technician and fisherman.
Students filed into the gymnasium one by one and take center stage. Alaska House Speaker Bryce Edgmon is the first speaker of the night, recalling his own time as a student at Dillingham High School. Later on, Principal Monte Thacker delivered an emotional address. Thacker is one of several staff members leaving this year. Toward the end of his speech, he told the students, “You can do this.”
Jackie Wilson, who is retiring after 39 years of teaching, shared a heartfelt goodbye.
“I firmly believe you are equipped to do what it takes to overcome challenges and succeed,” Wilson said. “Thank you for allowing me to play a role in your lives - it’s been a privilege. Thank you, and congratulations class of 2019.”
During the ceremony, students took the podium as well. Salutatorian Logan Ito addressed his classmates. He told them to hold their experiences dear. Co-valedictorian’s Sadie Sands and Kylee Sisof also spoke, sharing memories from the class. In her speech, Sifsof emphasized unity.
“We are the future of the world,” Sisof said. “We need to make the world a safer and more substantial place. We need each other, the support, friendship the love, I’m excited for us to contribute to the world because together we can and together we will.”
Dillingham wraps up the school year May 23.
Around Bristol Bay, other communities are also celebrating their graduates this month. Ten students walked in Togiak, the Bristol Bay Borough School had 11 graduates, and Chief Ivan Blunka School in New Stuyahok had 11 graduates as well. Aleknagik had no graduating seniors, but held a promotion ceremony for several students. While Clark’s Point also has no graduating seniors, the school is hosting a promotion ceremony for eighth graders and kindergartners Thursday at 2:00 p.m.
Correction: Matthew Krause is attending Northern Industrial Training, LLC in Anchorage - not the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. NIT is a vocational school specializing in professional truck driving, heavy equipment, National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) construction building trades, NCCER oil and gas pipeline, hazardous materials, and mine safety training programs.