Voice of the past helps Nikiski grads move on

Posted: Friday, May 28, 2004

Nikiski High School graduates looked to the past for direction for their future this month.

The senior class, which graduated May 24 at Nikiski High School, asked physical education and math teacher Reid Kornstad to be the graduation speaker. Kornstad graduated from Nikiski High School himself in 1991, and the class of 2004 is the first he taught when they were freshmen.

Kornstad recalled his years at Nikiski High when the school first opened and the struggle to find an identity for the school.

"Those first years were breaking free from big brother," he said. "We created our own legacy. Now ... you're about to join a legacy of excellence."

Kornstad, who encouraged audience participation in his speech, threatening to call students to the stage, said he wanted students to remember just two words from his list of advice: influence and choice.

"The balance between influence and choice is the difference between a life of pain and a life of purpose," he told students. "In your life, influence always comes first, but that means choice has the final say.

"You are not a product of your environment; you're a product of your choices. Now go forward making great choices because your parents and teachers said so."

The graduates also had some advice for each other, as the valedictorian Ramona Baker and salutatorian Shanda Dahlen took an opportunity to speak to the crowd.

Dahlen, who admitted a fear of public speaking, stood up and encouraged the graduates to never let fear stop them and to build their lives on faith and confidence.

"Faith and confidence are carrying us through high school, college and hopefully our chosen career," she said. "Because we've made it this far, don't let it fade now."

Baker, an award-winning member of the school's drama, debate and forensics team, told her peers that life is, indeed, like a box of chocolates.

"Forest Gump's mama knew what she was talking about," Baker said, noting that life is full of its sweet and bitter moments.

"The difficult part of life is discovering what success is for us," she said. Artificial, or "scoreboard," success is like cheap imitation or low-carb chocolate.

"And a box of diet chocolate is a box of disappointment," she said. "It may be chocolate-covered cherries for one and white chocolate for another. Find your personal success and go for it."

Nikiski High School

Class of 2004

Brett Micah Alleman

Jonathan (Billy) Anderson

Jessica Lee Anthony

Arleigh Brian Bacarella

Franzisca Bahr

Ramona Heather Baker

Justin Leon Baldwin

Adam James Barrett

Megan Jo Best

Joshua Boovee Boye

Anthony Michael Clayton

Jeanette Lynne Copeland

Holley Elizabeth Cote

Ryan Alexander Cowie

Shanda Rae Dahlen

Kristopher Kyle Dent

Nicole Michelle Deshong

Thomas Ryan Donaghe

Luke Lawrence Dubber

Lynzie Ellis

Jabin Redd Flensburg

Lisa Fucci

Skyler Kenneth Gallien

Charles Robert Garrison

Roy Samual Gladden

Louis A. Grimaldi

Stacey Colleen Groeneveld

Jennifer Grumbo-Purkerson

Luke Aaron Hardesty

Jerimiah Ross Hemphill

Joshua Joseph Huhndorf

Matthew Thomas Hyatt

Ruby Ann Jackson

Alexander Thor Johansen

Johanna Marie Johns

Katrina Lee Johns

Miles David Jorgensen

Paul Addison Kendall

Tab Anthony Key II

Marshall Ryan Kidder

Elizabeth Lynne Lettington

Wesley Adam Little

Lex Anthony Litzen

Anthony Paul Lorenzo

Christopher Michael Love

Casey Ann McClure

Cody Bruin McLaury

Troy Ryan Nightingale

Louis Francis Oliva III

Benjamin Miles Quesnel

Holly Leigh Rooker

Anna-Sophia Rothacker

Michael Edward Roza

Nicholas James Russell

Anjani Dawn Salonen

Kristiena Jean Sanders

Corey James Schaeffer

Chaunsy Dean Seater

Christine Janette Strickland

Suzanne Janette Strickland

Echo Martini-Suminski

Ryan Andrew Swanson

Jesse Robert Tauriainen

Jeremiah Erwin Taylor

Viorica Thompson

Callie Marie Ware

Angelique M. Williams

Robert Zachary Womack

Daniel Lee Zulkanycz

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