Nikiski Middle-Senior High School's Tuesday night commencement ceremony was filled with the usual laughter, tears, inspirational messages, well-wishes and celebration. But not everything went by the book for the ceremony.
It began with a wedding proposal between two of the graduates during the processional. Then the principal, Robin Williams, was inspired by the uncomfortable heat in the Nikiski gymnasium to give the audience a piece of uncommon graduation advice, at least in Alaska, to avoid any blackouts -- "don't lock your knees."
The commencement address, delivered by Nikiski teacher Phil Morin, was unconventional as well, aimed more at entertaining the 80 graduates than inspiring them. After the first few minutes of describing how he had agonized over coming up with a memorable and profound message for the graduates, he changed tactics.
"I've decided the next 20 minutes or so will be dedicated to me," he said. "What I like, what I don't like -- and the list is long."
After entertaining the audience with his list of dos and don'ts, including don't talk to him before his first cup of coffee and do take hats off inside, Morin ended on a sentimental note.
"To the degree that you can unselfishly meet my dos and don'ts list, and to the degree to which you put me or anyone else first, will be the degree to which you can obtain joy and satisfaction," he said.
Other speakers took a more serious approach, like Williams, who told the students that their lives have changed dramatically with Sept. 11 and that they will be charged with shaping democracy and freedom in the future.
Williams offered other advice, like "be kind," "stand up for what you know is right" and "be on good terms with all people." She jokingly told the graduates that in years past the faculty has shed tears of joy at seeing some classes graduate.
"This year the tears will truly be that we will miss you but are truly excited for you," she said.
The 2002 class included seven valedictorians, Aurora Zinck, Todd Brigham, Jennifer Miller, Zach Hall, Makenzie Jorgensen, Aaron Sanders and Evangeline Pattison, who gave brief remarks, including favorite quotes, thanks to parents, faculty and friends, prayers, high school anecdotes and advice to fellow graduates and younger students.
The musical talents of several seniors were showcased during the ceremony. Zach Hall, Chris Pepper, Lyndsy Pritchard, Sally Glaze and the senior choir provided music.
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