Graduates thank their teachers 'for everything you do'

There were plenty of smiles, hugs and tears of joy in a ceremony lasting nearly two hours.

Not a moment of the Wrangell High School 2023 graduation was wasted as speakers and video presentations reflected on the lives of 20 seniors taking the step into the next phase of their lives.

Salutatorian Brodie Gardner and co-valedictorians Nikolai Bardin-Siekawitch and Kiara Harrison focused on the positive traits of their classmates and the dedication of their teachers.

"They go above and beyond for their students," Gardner said in her speech to a packed gym last Friday. "The teachers are loving and want what's best for all of us. Speaking on behalf of my class, I'd like to say thank you for everything you do and have done for us. ... We can definitely be a handful sometimes. But don't worry, you're about to get rid of us."

She took a moment to showcase the results of Wrangell's educational system, pointing out how close students were in their outcomes.

"The senior class is one of the smartest and most athletic in our high school," she said. "The students that ranked three, four and five had GPAs that ranked only 0.01 away from each other. That shows just how competitive we are. My class had so many academic opportunities this year, we took all of them. We all have worked so hard to get where we are right now."

However, as Bardin-Siekawitch pointed out in his speech, he and his classmates excelled in other not-so-positive areas as well.

"We're all just graduating high school, and I'm pretty sure most, if not all of my class, including me have a master's degree in procrastination and are well on our way to earning our Ph.D.s," he joked. He said there were plenty of things about Wrangell he could complain about, "but, at the end of the day, this is the little rock that gave me the opportunities that made me into the person I am now."

Harrison highlighted each of her classmates and pointed out their ever-evolving passions in life.

"I know as we continue growing and learning, we will develop our passions and discover countless more," she said. "I want to share a piece of advice that has stuck with me: 'The only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do.' My hope for the future is that we each find something we are passionate about and not just stop there, but pursue it, explore it and never stop our entire lives. There's always something new to learn."


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