Letting pictures and song lyrics say what emotion-filled voices could not, photos of Ninilchik's graduating high school seniors flashed on a screen during the May 22 commencement exercises.
The Sarah McLachlan song, "I Will Remember You," played as images of graduates as they appear today, as well as embarrassing images from younger years brought laughter and sighs from teary-eyed family, friends and classmates gathered to celebrate the students' achievements.
"Remember the good times that we had?" McLachlan sang. The slide show of memories was created by graduating senior Maureen McCombs. In the audience, McCombs' father, John, had other words running through his head as he watched his daughter walk across the stage to receive her high school diploma, a rite of passage he described as losing a best friend.
"I get choked up remembering that Tennyson line, 'She walks in beauty, of cloudless climes and starry skies; and all that's best of dark and bright meet in the aspect of her eyes,' John said. "I wish my friend would be around here, but I know there'd be something wrong if she wanted to hang around. They've got to get out, that's what they're supposed to be doing at this age. One part of the journey is over. Another one is about to begin.
"Make your dreams the target of what your life is all about, guest speaker Mike Wetherbee," former Ninilchik principal, told the class. McCombs will be entering The University of Alaska Fairbanks in the fall, following her dream to be a photojournalist.
"I enjoy taking photographs and figured with photojournalism I could travel with my job," said McCombs, who spent last summer as an exchange student in Germany and traveling in France and Holland. She also has traveled around the United States and Canada with her family.
"I'm not ready for this," John said his daughter's graduation.
"This is the toughest thing I've done in awhile."
Ironically, it is time spent with family that McCombs credits with helping her take the next part of life's journey.
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