The Kenai Central High School class of 2011 wore their hearts on their hats at their May 30 graduation in the school’s auditorium.
Aundrea Moulton’s red motarboard reflected the best memories of her time at KCHS.
“Every section is a different year of high school, and each picture is a different memory.”
Breanna McCarter’s red motarboard was more decorative.
“Why the bow? It’s just different. No one ever puts anything down there. I wanted to make it as beautiful as I could for my graduation.”
She also included a penny for good luck, and flowers because she likes them.
Viewed from above, the hats were a visual reminder of how teacher and coach James Beeson saw the class.
“Each kid in their own unique style has found a way to be part of what will be known as the Kenai Central High School class of 2011,” he said in his address to the soon-to-be graduates.
Despite the variety of interests and personalities in their class, before the ceremony began, members of the class of 2011 described themselves as a group that could get along despite their differences.
Kirstin Meehan said she liked getting to know people through classes that she might not have been friends with otherwise.
“You’re stuck in classes with them, so you have to get to know them,” she said.
And Victoria Hauck said her best memory of high school was her first day at the school, when she was the new kid.
“I moved here sophomore year,” she said. “Everyone was really friendly. It was completely opposite of my old school.”
Cole Chase-Cochrane, who also transferred sophomore year, agreed that Kenai Central was a welcome change from his old school.
“It wasn’t too much of an adjustment,” he said. “I like it better here.”
Octavio de la Torre, an exchange student from Mexico City, agreed.
“The language at first was pretty difficult,” he said. “Once you get that it’s really easy because the teachers are really nice and everybody helps you out.”
The graduates reminisced about other memories, too.
Todd Kruger said his favorite part of high school was football.
“Winning the state championship,” he said.
Chase-Cochrane said he really liked the swim team trip to Kodiak.
“The swim team was pretty epic,” he said.
Cassi Hollingsworth enjoyed watching the antics of other students.
“My funniest memory is probably sophomore year watching the seniors of that year make the freshman kiss the Kardinal in the commons.”
While they enjoyed their time together, the graduates also talked about their next adventures.
Tyler Spaulding said he’ll be running track in college.
“It’ll be much harder,” he said.
And many, like Hollingsworth, were just looking forward to the small things — sleeping in and upping their hours at part-time jobs.
“Being able to tell my boss with confidence that I can work more hours,” she said.
“Yes,” she said. “Being able to work more hours. I need the money for college.”
Others were more focused on the moment.
“The next step is the after graduation party,” said Carolyn Knackstedt. “That’s about as far as I can think ahead.”
Annalise Theisen agreed.
“It hasn’t sunk in that this is happening yet,” she said.
She knew she’d miss some parts of high school though.
“Just being with our friends every day, I’m really going to miss that,” she said.
Four valedictorians and a student speaker each offered advice to their classmates as they prepared for those destinations.
“Keep smiling and growing and changing,” said Shaynee DeVito. “Keep questioning.”
“The best advice I can give is work hard and never give up,” said Michelle Klaben.
She and student speaker Zach Moore also thanked the people who had helped them get through high school.
“To all our teachers out there, thank you,” Klaben said.
“To our coaches — thank you for always helping us beat SoHi,” Moore said.