Nome-Beltz High School graduates Class of 2018
On Thursday, May 24 in the Nome-Beltz Junior/Senior High School gymnasium, the Nome-Beltz High School Class of 2018 held its commencement ceremony. After welcome speeches, addresses, slide shows and music, students crossed the stage with diplomas in hands, their tassels to the left and smiles on their faces.
The NBHS Class of 2018 includes 37 students and over half of them graduated with honors and received scholarship awards. Scholarship recipients were recognized on Wednesday, May 23 at Old St. Joe’s Community Hall.
During Thursday’s commencement, salutatorians Katherine Scott and John Wade congratulated their peers. Scott focused on happiness in her speech, encouraging her classmates to seek happiness in themselves and the world around them. “When you learn to accept yourself, that’s when you find happiness. When you accept your life, you’re happy with your life. For true happiness with your life, you need to enjoy what you’re doing,” said Scott.
Wade thanked the community of Nome for their support as well as his friends and family. He also shared a little advice with his peers. “Class of 2018: I encourage you all to never say ‘good enough.’ Do everything to the best of your ability. Take pride in your work, never give up, and never stop striving for you goals,” said Wade.
Valedictorians Harrison Moore and Katie Kelso addressed their class. Moore thanked teachers, family, friends and the community for their support, and reminisced with his classmates about growing up together and the years that passed by too quickly.
Kelso shared memories of her grandfathers and their accomplishments, encouraging her classmates to think about their definitions of success. “Will your definition be based on your job title, your wealth, or the level of education you obtain? Or will be it be based on less tangible criteria: The connections you make with family and friends throughout your lives, the family you build and the good works you perform along the way?” Kelso asked her peers.
Kelly Thrun and Lucas Frost gave the commencement addresses. Thrun, a 1991 Nome-Beltz graduate, used to teach kindergarten, fifth, and sixth grade at Nome Elementary School. Many of the 2018 graduates are her former students. In her address, she compared goal-setting to blueberry-picking on the tundra, encouraging students to take time to find the right patch, pick the best berries and then fill their buckets to the brim. Thrun concluded her address by asking students to reach for the stars, taking a moment to remind graduates that her son Jamison Miles Lee Thrun was there with his classmates in spirit. In 2011, Jamison was tragically killed by an impaired driver on his way to school in Fairbanks.
“Tonight, you have dropped your first big berry into your gallon bucket of life. When you walk across the stage in the coming moments, you will wink toward the heavens knowing that Jamison is right here beside you, hoping and dreaming with you,” said Thrun. During the ceremony, an empty chair stood at stage center, decorated with pink balloons and a picture of Jamison Thrun.
In his address, Assistant Principal Lucas Frost first engaged the graduating class in some Kagan teaching structures, having them stand up (Take off) and sit down (Touch down) to answer questions. Between a little joking and a little advice, Frost advised students to be conscientious, responsible citizens of the world and to let their voices be heard.
“Young people are the most powerful voices in the world, but only if we can hear you. Don’t be a part of the problem. Be a component to the solution. Let your actions be your voice, be the vehicle that drives positive, reasonable change,” said Frost.
For a little fun after his so-called “tirade,” he added a short game of “We’ve got spirit,” led by Annalise Contreras and Katherine Scott.
After NBHS Principal Jon Berkeley announced the certification of graduates, students fell in line to walk across stage to receive their diplomas, presented by NPS Board Vice President Jennifer Reader presenting on behalf of Chair Dr. Barb Amarok.
Once the last graduate stepped down from stage, confetti flew, hats soared, and balloons fell on students as they hugged, high-fived, laughed, cried and cheered on their last day as high school students.