Hundreds of camera bulbs flashed throughout the Kenai Central High School auditorium capturing the students' transition to adulthood. But there was one camera at the May 22 graduation ceremony with a truly unique view.
It was the one perched on Tye Jordan Hays-Honrud's head.
The small digital video camera he got as a graduation present and stuck to the top of his mortarboard recorded all the ceremony's details -- walking to the stage, taking a seat, listening to "Pomp and Circumstance," speeches, a senior slide show and finally the presentation of the diplomas.
"I was just sitting around trying to think of ideas of how to decorate my hat and thought it would be a cool idea to video the whole thing," he said. "I'm just glad nobody shut it down. It just died, so I got all of it on there."
Even though Hays-Honrud will likely watch with fondness the first-person retelling of his graduation ceremony years from now, he said he is now ready for the future. That starts with classes at Kenai Peninsula College for a career in process technology.
But moments before he passed through the hallway and out into that future, he gave a bit of advice to the incoming freshmen.
"Don't slack," he said with a smile.
And what of his predictions for his future?
"I have no idea what it holds," he said. "We'll see and I'm hoping for the best."
The KCHS graduating class of 2012 gathered in the commons area laughing, crying, hugging and taking photos with family and friends to mark the occasion. The class will also be the last to walk the earth, at least according to the Mayan calendar, joked George Navarre who was school's the senior class speaker.
Also during his speech, Navarre thanked the inventors of Google, Wikipedia, and copy-paste.
"Although I do not believe in cheating, I do believe that each one of us has something to offer one another," he said drawing chuckles from the audience.
He stressed school grades only last a few years, but friendships last a lifetime.
"Isn't that what's important? The love and the laughter we've shared? Ten years from now none of us will say, 'Wow, I really could have done better on that math test,'" he said. "We are going to remember the people that made this experience all that it could be."
Navarre said he would attend George Fox University to study biology with a minor in political science -- both of which would be to his advantage if he returned to the area after, he said with a laugh.
On the back of Navarre's mortarboard was a color photocopy of the cover of "Where the Wild Things Are," by Maurice Sendak. He said the book was his favorite as a child and he could relate to Max, the main character who conquers his fears of the terrible things by looking them in the eyes.
"I think he became the king of the terrible things, but I think, more or less, we become the kings of pretty wonderful things -- I mean graduation is a pretty big deal," he said.
Navarre's advice to younger students was to "never take anything too seriously and relax even in the most stressful of times."
Jack Matthews said it was a hot, nerve-racking experience waiting for his name to be called to receive his diploma on stage.
"All these people," he said recalling his thoughts from the moment when his name was called. "I hate crowds so much. It feels like there is a good layer of sweat on my face right now."
He said his favorite memory of high school would be "right now."
"This is probably the happiest I've been in high school," he said with a laugh.
Matthews said he had a rough go of high school, particularly with homework, his mom and getting kicked out of the house.
"Throughout my years of school I've had trouble," he said. "I haven't been the best student keeping up with grades and stuff. This year I just tried really hard and had a few rough spots, but actually made it."
Ultimately he said he owes his success to his mother.
"All and all we forgave each other, it worked out in the end and I feel great," he said. "Graduating is a step in life all kids need to have. It is less for the graduation and more for the sense of accomplishment."
Morgan Wensley said she would go on to play basketball for Arcadia University, but ultimately wanted to pursue criminal justice and be a cop in Maine, "because Maine is like a cool state."
"When we were doing our job-shadowing junior year, it just like became an interest to me and it is going to be a good fit for what I like," she said, particularly mentioning busting criminals, using a handgun and wearing a uniform.
She said she was looking forward to broadening her horizons and how she looks at the world in the future.
"Build more character in myself and be more accepting of different backgrounds and see just different types of things," she said.
Vanessa Anderson said graduating felt "surreal."
"Nobody is crying so I didn't cry and that was a plus, but it is weird," she said. "It is like I finally made it, you know? I'm just super happy."
Anderson said she wants to be an English teacher and will eventually attend Northern Arizona University after taking a few classes at KPC.
"Just the fact that we have finally done it all together," she said. "It just makes it more amazing to graduate with everyone you have gone to school with since like second grade."
Find a list of Kenai Central High School 2012 graduates on Page B-4.