The gym was packed Monday night for the Nikiski Middle Senior High School Class of 2013 graduation.
It was a culmination of 12 years of school, various group sports and friendships.
The class walked in with white lilies in hand to “Pomp and Circumstance,” with wide smiles and lively decorated caps.
Ashley Epperheimer, student body president delivered an opening speech to the seniors that began “This is it, what we have all been waiting for.”
As for future plans, many plan on leaving the North Road.
For Orren Hyatt, his summer plans included an internship with Tesoro, but in the fall he is off to the University of Alaska Fairbanks to study Instrumental Technology and Environmental Health and Safety.
Jesse Ross said he has enlisted in the U.S. Marines and he plans on leaving for basic training in San Diego in early September.
“After that, I am off to explore the world,” he said.
Katie O’Brien was asked to sing “The Star Spangled Banner,” at the commencement.
“I felt super honored,” she said. “To be able to sing it at graduation means a lot to me.”
O’Brien said she is off to Tempe, Arizona in the fall to attend Arizona State University where she will major in Speech Pathology and minor in dance.
Lincoln Johnson felt compelled to leave a lasting impression from the class of 2013 before he departs for Greenville College in Illinois, where he will play college football and study medicine.
Johnson created a senior bench for the class of 2013 with the names and signatures of each student on the bench. He worked on the project during the last quarter in both computer aided design and woodshop classes. A similar bench was made for the class of 2008, but that bench recently broke.
“I wanted to make something new for our class,” he said.
Johnson said the class of 2013 was special in his mind because most of the group had been together for so long and participated in sports and similar activities over the years.
“A good chunk of our class grew up together,” he said.
Other graduates have their sights set on staying closer to home.
Jaden Larson and her best friend, Amelia Andersen, both said they had no plans on leaving. Larson said she will continue to work as an assistant photographer for North Road Productions and Andersen will attend Kenai Peninsula College in the fall, starting with just the basic classes.
Devin Pennison said he had plans on staying home and a attend college classes also.
“My plan is to find a job and take welding classes at KPC,” he said.
Vern Kornstad encouraged the group in his commencement address to remember that attitude is everything and to give it their all.
“How you look at a situation will change your attitude,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to work hard.”
Sara J. Hardan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.