For April Locke, Wednesday night marked the beginning of a new era -- and the time to start exploring possibilities.
"It's the ending of childhood, time to start being more independent," she said. "It's time to start something new."
The 18-year-old graduated from Soldotna High School Wednesday night and is looking forward to figuring out what to do next.
The future, she said, is still an open range of possibilities.
Throughout her high school career, Locke has enjoyed problem solving, working with computers and publishing.
This year alone, she was the editor of the school yearbook, produced a brochure for the school and designed a brochure for next year's advanced placement biology class.
But, she said, "It's not really my future. It's just something I like to do."
As a child, Locke said she dreamed of a career in medicine.
"I like to help people, be around people," she said. "I figured it was a good way."
Inspired by her high school anatomy teacher, Bruce Rife, she explored that dream by becoming a certified nurse's aide and working with residents at Heritage Place senior center.
"I loved it," she said, noting that she still may pursue that path later in life. "It's something I could do during college. I just don't know if it's what I want to do right now."
Instead, she is considering pursuing a degree in music education or composition from the University of Alaska Anchor-age.
She has taken piano lessons for the last seven years and lists her instructor, Linda Kincaid, as a major influence in her life.
"She definitely has inspired me a lot," she said.
Regardless of where the future takes her, Locke said she will always enjoy her memories of the past.
Locke, along with her parents, Tony and Sue Anne, and brother Brandon, now 20, moved to Sterling from Texas when she was 8 years old. For the past four years, she has enjoyed being what SoHi principal Sylvia Reynolds called a "behind-the-scenes leader."
On top of her work with the yearbook, her nursing training and her piano lessons, Locke played soccer for two years, took advanced science courses, helped plan school activities and maintained a 3.98 grade point average. She has won a number of awards, including the National Science Merit Award and All-American Scholar Award in 2000. She received the Superintendent's Academic 4.0 Award in 2000 and 2001 and the Renaissance Club Award from 1998 to 2002 -- both acknowledging her excellent academic record.
She also was named a Rotary student of the month twice, and a Soldotna Chamber of Commerce student of the month once.
Her greatest memories of high school will always be her friends, though.
"I'll remember the school activities -- Homecoming week was always so much fun with the dress-up days and activities -- and hanging out with my friends. All my friends," she said.
"It's amazing how quickly (graduation) came. It seems like just yesterday I was a freshman. It's amazing to think I'm graduating."
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