Story last updated at 3:06 p.m. Thursday, May 16, 2002

Schools celebrate graduates
By Carey James
Staff Writer

For teachers, principals, coaches and other education staff, this is crunch time. But even amid the hubbub of final exams and last assignments, educators had a chance to reflect on the class of 2002 and the opportunities that lie ahead for these students.

At Homer High School, the largest group of graduates on the lower Kenai Peninsula will walk across the stage Monday at 7 p.m. Ninety-eight students make up this year's diverse class, and principal Ron Keffer said this group has unlimited potential.

"These are extremely smart, capable kids," he said. "I truly believe that this class will go off and do great things."

The class had some of the highest college board test scores ever seen at the high school, and more than 80 percent are expected to attend college next fall. Valedictorians for the class of 2002 are Timothy Byrne, Jami Epley, Travis Kiefer and Sadie Polen.

Keffer said he always gets reflective as each year winds to a close and he watches students with so many possibilities go of into the world.

"I think the longer you serve in public school, the more you are fascinated and enchanted by the possibilities these young folks have," Keffer said. "The world is wide open to them. They really can do anything they want to do. They have so much capability."

At Ninilchik School, a class of 16 graduates will receive their diplomas Sunday at 4 p.m. at the school gymnasium.

According to the school, the class stood out for its commitment both to academics and athletics, and many of the seniors also volunteered in the community and held jobs.

"I think overall the whole group has a plan," said

principal Mike Wetherbee, who added that students were heading in a variety of directions, from college to the military. "It's nice to see they are going places."

Homer Flex High School has 11 graduates this year who will be honored with a ceremony Saturday at Land's End Resort. This year's graduates pursued career planning with extra vigor through the school's new Career Development course. Each had a chance to investigate careers they thought might interest them as well as get a clear picture of what educational and employment opportunities currently exist. In addition, students have a chance to try out skills firsthand with the Flexwood furniture business, rustic furniture made and marketed by the school's students.

The graduation ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. on the Quarterdeck.

Community Christian School's class of 2002, nine students in all, graduate Saturday at 4 p.m. at the school. Some of the graduates attended Community Christian School since kindergarten.

Valedictorian is Lindsey Carter Wolford, and Katy Lyn Jones is the class salutatorian.

Five local students are among those graduating from the Interior Distance Education of Alaska program, while two graduated from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Connections Program.

Across Kachemak Bay, two students are graduating Friday from Nanwalek School while Susan B. English School in Seldovia was to have graduated six students on Wednesday. All six are continuing their education in the fall. The valedictorian for the class was Jason Jones while Michelle Gruber was the salutatorian.

At Voznesenka School, four students will graduate today at 7 p.m. at the school. According to the school, the graduates have participated in job training internships as will as completing college classes.

Nikolaevsk School will graduate six students in a ceremony at 7 p.m. tonight at the school's gym. The class valedictorian is Anastasia Gordeev and the salutatorian is Heather Kurka. According to the school, this year's graduates are "athletic, hard-working, talented and motivated individuals." It must run in the family, since four of the six graduates are twins.