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WHS sends 31 graduates into adulthood


Greg Knight

Haley Reed and MiKayla Stokes were named as co-Valedictorians for the Class of 2013.

The Class of 2013 started their march toward graduation in first grade in 2001 – 12 years ago and seemingly a lifetime away from the world we live in today.

Regardless of the march of time, the 31 graduates of Wrangell High School walked the aisle on Friday, May 17 into their future of college, work and adulthood.

After entering the gymnasium of WHS to the tune of the Pomp and Circumstance march, provided by what was left of music director Tasha Morse’s band – minus her seniors – the collective group took their seats on the stage and were welcomed by the opening speech of Salutatorian Victoria Ingram.

“As I am quite sure, many of us graduates are excited and eager to start this new chapter of our lives,” Ingram said. “It is a happy moment, yet bittersweet at the same time. Many of us have spent our whole school careers here and grew up seeing the same comfortable and familiar faces of our peers. Now, we venture off and will leave many of our childhood friends behind to seek our own fortune. As we go our separate ways, bonds will be tested, some maybe to the point of breakage … as we become left to our own devices, we will most certainly use trial and error in our new lives. A possible, ‘Did I mail that bill? Nope. Needs to be delivered by 5 p.m. today? Well I can make that – oh, look, it’s 5:30 … maybe next time.’ Or maybe even an, ‘Oh dear, it was my turn to buy groceries this week … Ramen noodles and popcorn it is then.’”

After the reflective and humorous tone of Ingram’s message to her classmates, a deeply emotional, though short address was delivered by co-valedictorian MiKayla Stokes.

“We each have a long road ahead of us, but we have each been well prepared for this road by the ones who love us,” Stokes said. “I’d like to thank all of the parents, grandparents, teachers, siblings, aunts and uncles, neighbors, and community members for helping us to grow into the people that we are. You all have supported us in so many ways, our parents have devoted hours to teaching us right from wrong, our teachers have spent extra time in the classroom to make sure that we can grasp a concept even if it seemed like we would never get it, you have coached, you have shown up to events even if it meant sitting in the rain for hours to watch a baseball game, and you have always been willing to buy tickets no matter how many times we came and asked … I could go on and on and try to write some big philosophical speech of which I doubt very much you care to listen to so from the bottom of my heart, thank you all.”

Haley Reed, Stokes’ fellow co-valedictorian then took the stage and waxed historical in regard to the classmates and teachers she grew up with.

“I am honored to be standing before you all today, speaking for the class I have been a part of since preschool as we take our final step in this chapter of our lives,” she said. “We’ve been something of an irksome group of students for quite a while, from frustrating a substitute teacher in fourth grade to the point of canceling Valentine’s Day, to forcing Mr. Stokes to revoke the dash rule. Despite this, we are a very creative class; we were the creators of the land of Cardboardians, which dominated a table and several drawers in Mr. Kurth’s classroom and some of us are the reason Mrs. Morse’s office wall is home to a plethora of creatively apologetic, and late, practice logs. We are a class of firsts and lasts. We were the first sixth grade class Mr. Davies had and the first eighth grade class Mrs. Morse had. We were the last fifth grade class both Mr. and Mrs. Kurth had, and the last class to have Mr. Lee as a teacher all three years of middle school … I am proud to be counted among these young men and women who, through the years, have shown exemplary skill, ingenuity, and promise. Our class has seen students come and go, but we are the ones who toughed it out and made it through. We are the class of 2013.”

The students, families and guests of the class were also treated a video and musical history of the graduates from infancy to adulthood – but not before a long distance commencement address was delivered digitally by Barb Neyman.

Greg Knight

Deanna Reeves accepts a rose – and an emotional hug – from her son, graduate Ryan Reeves during the parents special presentation part of the ceremony.

“Never believe in generalizations. Buzzwords are great only if they mean something. If you don’t have something intelligent to say, don’t say it,” Neyman said. “Hang up and drive. Do take the time to dream. Then act on those dreams, sooner rather than later. Figure out what you have to do to be successful at whatever interests you, then, earn your way there. Now is the time to take those chances. You’re not tied down to family and huge debts. Throw yourself into whatever it takes to get you where you want to be. Want to be a DJ? Learn everything you can about not just music, but how radio stations and recording studios operate. Take the time to look at all the factors involved.”

The 31 graduates then accepted their diplomas, tossed their caps into the air in joyous elation – and stepped forward into life as graduates and adults.

The graduates of the Class of 2013 will be attending several universities, vocational schools, and trade schools across Alaska and in seven other states, including Texas, California, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Colorado and Idaho.


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