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By Dan Rudy 

Wrangell High School graduates 22 seniors


Vincent Balansag / Submitted Photo

Wrangell High School's Class of 2015 get together for a group picture at their graduation ceremony May 15.

Twenty-two seniors graduated from Wrangell High School last Friday. This year's graduating class donned their gowns and mortarboards and walked the aisle in front of friends and loved ones in a confetti-strewn ceremony at the school gym that afternoon.

"All of our seniors are headed out in different directions, but all of them have worked very hard to get to this point," said Lisa Nikodym who helped the students prepare for post-graduation. "Wrangell High School staff and myself are very proud of them."

Many of the departing seniors will be headed to schools across the Northwest, and some will go as far away as Hawaii and Montana. They will pursue study in a variety of fields, from teaching and engineering to careers in the military and veterinary science.

"It's definitely an eclectic group and a strong class, a unique group of kids," said school principal Colter Barnes. "They were an active class, and they were a really fun class to engage with. I had a really good experience with them."

Barnes will also be departing once the school year ends. After his first year as Wrangell's secondary schools principal, he announced last month he will be heading to Southeast Island School District on Prince of Wales, where he will work in an administrative capacity and manage four greenhouses.

At the ceremony on May 13, Arthur Acuna was named valedictorian and Ben Florschutz the salutatorian. Both students were offered $19,000 University of Alaska Scholars awards, which are awarded to the top ten-percent of the class and help cover housing and tuition costs. Acuna plans to use the funds to attend the University of Alaska Southeast to pursue a degree in electrical or computer engineering. Florschutz plans to attend Brigham Young University–Hawaii to study biomedical engineering.

A number of scholarships were also offered by various colleges should students choose to attend them, ranging from $1,250 to $44,000. In all, graduating seniors were offered a potential $354,000 in scholarships and awards. Of these, $143,384 have so far been confirmed. (See sidebar for a complete list.)

Wrangell graduates offered $354,000 in awards

Alaska Native Brotherhood Scholarship ($500)

Darian Meissner

Alaska Native Sisterhood Scholarship ($500)

Kimberly Cooper

Alaska Peace Officer

Association ($1,000)

Kehli Shilts

Alaska Pulp Scholarship ($20,000)

Ben Florschutz, Arthur Acuna, Kimberly Cooper

Alaska State Employee

Association ($500)

Arthur Acuna

Anna Loftus Ream Memorial Scholarship ($5,000)

Kacie Galla

Colin Buness Memorial

Scholarship ($2,000)

Michael Ottesen

Delta Western Scholarship ($10,000)

Arthur Acuna

Elks Joel Wing Scholarship


Kehli Shilts,

Kimberly Cooper

Juneau Lions Club ($1,000)

Kacie Galla

Sealaska Corporation Scholarship

Michael Ottesen ($7,016),

Kimberly Cooper ($5,668)

Shandelle Nelson Memorial Scholarship ($500)

Michael Ottesen,

Darian Meissner

State of Alaska Emblem Club Scholarship ($1,000)

Kimberly Cooper

Stikine Sportsmen Association Votec Scholarship ($1000, renewable)

Cody Thomassen, Michael Ottesen

University of Alaska Scholars Awards ($19,000)

Vincent Balansag / Submitted Photo

Graduating senior Aaron Howell gets a hug from his mother, JoDee Howell at the May 15 ceremony.

Ben Florschutz, Arthur Acuna

Wrangell Elks Most Valuable Student ($200)

Caroline Ward, Marsha McCay, Baylee Thrush, Kacie Galla, Kimberly Cooper

Wrangell Lions Club ($500)

Darian Meissner, Kimberly Cooper

Wrangell Medical Center Foundation Scholarship ($2,000)

Michael Ottesen


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