CLASS OF 2024– Nome-Beltz graduates stand waiting for the graduation ceremony to begin on May 30, in the Nome-Beltz gym.

Thirty-seven graduate from Nome-Beltz in class of 2024

The sun shone down on the graduates in their tinseled caps and gowns as the 2024 graduation celebrations kicked off last Thursday with a motorized procession of graduates in decorated trucks and cars around town. A tradition that began during COVID, the parade is now a staple of the Nome-Beltz high school graduation, a chance for Nomeites to cheer the emerging adults into their next phase of life.
The parade started at 5:30 p.m. as a line of vehicles decorated in the blue and white colors of Nome-Beltz weaved through town, ending at the high school for the ceremony.
The Nanook den was full of family and friends. The crowd stood, cheered and snapped endless cellphone pictures as the 37 graduates emerged in pairs from a tinseled arch into the gym. The class of 2024 filed in and sat in rows facing the stage where they’d soon receive their diplomas.
 Following the National Anthem, Superintendent Jamie Burgess set off the sequence of speeches.“The world awaits your contribution and I’m excited to see the incredible impact you will make,” she said.
Next up, the Nome/St. Lawrence Island Dance Group performed a dance and then invited the Boys Basketball State Champions up to showcase their dance to the Basketball Song, developed by Jimmy Toolie of Savoonga. The team was taught by Phyllis Walluk and first performed the dance at their celebration a few weeks ago, a recognition of the big win in March.
Teacher and Senior class advisor Rachel Finney addressed the seniors to tell them how proud she is of their growth and success. She shared how impactful it was to watch this class go from masked, unsure freshman entering high school during a global pandemic, to a resilient group of graduates. Following Finney, Principal of Nome-Beltz Teriscovkya Smith introduced the student speakers, starting with Salutatorian Iryna Kadatska.
In her speech, Kadatska also referenced the strange start to the class’ high school career and highlighted the different paths the class will take, each reflective of their unique abilities and interests. “I know all of us have the right tools to accomplish great things and make a positive change in the world. I am beyond excited to see where life leads each and every one of us,” said Kadatska.
Kaitlyn Johnson was the Valedictorian for the class of 2024. “I had the privilege of growing up in Nome, with everyone sitting in the chairs beside me. Before I go on to being so very inspirational, I would like to thank all our families, teachers, coaches, mentors and community members who helped our graduating class get to where we are today, which we really wouldn’t have been able to do without you. Our class has endured many things. But our greatest accomplishments have happened together,” Johnson shared with her class and the community.
After Johnson’s speech, Smith told her to stay on stage so she could reconcile a debt spanning a decade. “If I had a penny for every time I heard, ‘Where’s my penny?’ I’d have about 5,000 pennies,” Smith told the crowd. “So, I have 4,999 for you. One fell under the refrigerator.”  She then produced a bag from behind the podium and handed it to Johnson who, sagging with the weight of the coins, laughed along with the audience.
Credit restored, Smith donned a shiny gold pair of sunglasses to hide inevitable tears as she read out the poem Wild Geese by Mary Oliver.
Lights in the den dimmed for the class slideshow which featured childhood and current photos of the grads and a short blurb about their next adventure.
Michael Hoyt then took to the stage for the commencement address to a captive audience of his former students. “As you forge your path ahead, consider the different twists and turns, the different obligations and responsibilities put on you by society or culture. Do not lose sight of your own experiences and your own desires and your own dreams,” he said. Tearing up as he finished his speech, Hoyt congratulated the class of 2024.
Finally, it came time to do what everyone gathered in the gym for. One by one students ascended the stage and received their diplomas, shook hands with school board members Nancy Mendenhall and Jon Gregg, and hugged Principal Smith.
Newly-made alumni capped their high school career by moving their tassels from left to right, walking off stage equipped for their next adventure.
While the balloon drop didn’t quite go as planned, it spoke to the resilience of the graduates who pushed past the net that wouldn’t release and determinedly celebrated their achievement, throwing caps into the air. One last shared moment as class of 2024.

The Nome Nugget

PO Box 610
Nome, Alaska 99762

Phone: (907) 443-5235
Fax: (907) 443-5112

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