Nine students graduate from Flex

  • Flex High School graduate Zoe Cramer’s hat reads “Still growing.” In her speech thanking family, friends, teachers and staff, Cramer said, “Mistakes don’t have to be a downfall. They are the soil from which we grow.” Nine students graduated from Flex on Tuesday night, May 22, 2018, at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center auditorium, Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong / Homer News)
  • Flex High School graduate Emily Baylink holds roses and gift books after graduating. Nine students graduated from Flex on Tuesday night, May 22, 2018, at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center auditorium, Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong / Homer News)
  • Flex High School graduate Zoe Cramer gives a speech thanking family, friends, teachers and staff, Cramer said, “Mistakes don’t have to be a downfall. They are the soil from which we grow.” Nine students graduated from Flex on Tuesday night, May 22, 2018, at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center auditorium, Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong / Homer News)
  • Flex High School graduate McKenzie Hill smiles after graduating. Nine students graduated from Flex on Tuesday night, May 22, 2018, at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center auditorium, Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong / Homer News)
  • Flex High School teacher David Lefton, left, congratulates Brittany Griffin after she graduated. Nine students graduated from Flex on Tuesday night, May 22, 2018, at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center auditorium, Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong / Homer News)
  • Flex High School graduate Amber Bridgeman’s mortarboard reads “If your dreams don’t scare you they’re not big enough.” Nine students graduated from Flex on Tuesday night, May 22, 2018, at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center auditorium, Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong / Homer News)
  • Flex High School graduate Ella Parks gives a speech thanking family, friends, teachers and staff. Nine students graduated from Flex on Tuesday night, May 22, 2018, at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center auditorium, Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong / Homer News)
  • Flex High School graduate Matthew Prescott walks during the processional. Nine students graduated from Flex on Tuesday night, May 22, 2018, at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center auditorium, Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong / Homer News)

In a ceremony where Flex High School graduates are easily outnumbered 10-to-1 by family, friends and staff, graduates get some time to shine.

Rather than long commencement addresses, teachers and staff give short speeches honoring the students. In return, the students reflect on what they’ve learned and thank the many people who brought them to the close of their high school carreer.

Tuesday night at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center, nine students graduated, with one, Mila Stickrod, not attending. Principal Christopher Brown exhorted them to go out into the world and perservere.

“From this point on you get to be in charge of your lives,” he said. “… Failures happen. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s never too late to reinvent yourself.”

Math teacher Lindsay Martin noted how members of the Flex community supports each other.

“What I want to celebrate today is the kindness radiating from each and every one of you,” she said. “You are ready on so many levels to transition to the next step. You give me hope.”

Language arts teacher Colette Choate, now in her third year of teaching, noted how she had learned as much from her students as she hoped they learned from her. The first few years of teaching can be a challenge, she said.

“Your impact on me is immeasurable,” Choate said. “I appreciate the impact you’ve made in my practice.”

Counselor Ingrid Harrald picked up on that theme.

“I’d like to give you advice, but you’re here because no advice is needed,” she said. “You’re the message that needs to be heard here. You’re the lesson. … Good kids really do exist. Thanks for being those kids.”

The highlight of the evening came as one by one the students stepped up to the podium, and in clear, vibrant voices spoke of their time at Flex and the people who helped make it possible.

In his speech, Matthew Prescott gave his thanks and then a hint at his future plans.

“I’ve caught a big wave in life and I intend to keep surfing,” he said.

Dimitry Kuzmin spoke to one of the virtues of Flex — its flexibility. From the Russian Old Believer community of Voznesenka, he played on the Homer High School Mariners hockey team.

“Flex allowed me to practice my religion, fish and be eligible for hockey,” he said. “… Hockey was my motivation.”

Graduate Zoe Cramer wore a mortarboard that had a tree and the words “still growing.”

“Mistakes don’t have to be a downfall,” she said. “They are the soil from which we grow.”

Cramer even gave a shout out to everyone in the community she might have met and who in some small way might have made her success possible.

“You have all been my teachers and made me into the sculpture I have become,” she said.

The 2018 Homer Flex High School graduates are: Emily Baylink, Amber Bridgeman, Zoe Cramer, Brittany Griffin, McKenzie Hill, Dimitry Kuzmin, Ella Parks, Matthew Prescott and Mila Stickrod.

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.

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