Twenty-nine graduate from NBHS
On the evening of Thursday, May 25, 29 students entered the blue, sliver and white streamer covered Nome-Beltz gym for the last time as high school students. An emotional hour and a half later, the 29 would leave the building as alumni.
The Nome-Beltz Band played while the soon-to-be graduates emerged from the blue and silver tinseled doorway two by two, met with cheers and applause from family and friends.
The event moved quickly and without any hitches. The choir opened the ceremony with the National Anthem and Alaska Flag Song. After a welcome address from Nome Public Schools Superintendent Shawn Arnold and the presentation of the class gift, Salutatorian Wilson Hoogendorn addressed the crowd.
Hoogendorn acknowledged the different paths that his peers would be taking. “Some of you will probably start working tomorrow,” he said, while others will be heading to college or other post-secondary educational programs. According to Student Counselor Janeen Sullivan, 50 percent of the class will be attending college, 23 percent will participate in vocational training, 15 percent are going into the military and 12 percent are entering the workforce. But in whatever they did, Hoogendorn advised his fellow graduates to “work hard and make money.”
The senior class motto, a quote by football player and coach Vince Lombardi, was “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”
In the spirit of striving rather than settling, Hoogendorn ended by telling his class to “go balls to the wall,” a remark that was greeted with laughter and cheers as he stepped off the stage.
The Class Valedictorian was Bianca Trowbridge, who spent her senior year in Anchorage participating in Alaska Pacific University’s Early Honors Program. Trowbridge acknowledged that this opportunity cost her many memories with her class, a group that helped her grow from the self-described shy girl she was when she arrived in Nome.
Though Trowbridge touched on the disadvantages of being away from her Nome peers, her experience as a college student allowed her to offer her classmates advice. Some suggestions were geared toward those pursuing higher education in the fall, such as the warning to “not take 8 a.m. classes, because you will not sleep,” but much of what she said applied to each of the seated students, regardless of what their next step in life may be. Trowbridge urged her class to learn to budget their resources, and to “do stuff, because there are people who just stay in their rooms all day.” She ended by telling her classmates that, more than anything, she wants them to think of the future, but not let their goals prevent them from finding out who they really are.
Nome School Board President Barb Amarok, who also presented diplomas, gave the commencement address. Amarok read students’ advice to one another, and also gave some of her own. She told the class to have goals and dreams and “make plans,” and back up plans. Along these lines, she urged them to work hard and stay strong. Life would not always be easy, she advised, “because you will stumble, or someone will trip you,” and it is important to be resilient in the face of adversity. Like Hoogendorn, she spoke briefly to what each student planned to do or be after graduation, ranging from college to cosmetology to construction. But in whatever path they pursued, Amarok said she hoped that they led a “life filled with joy and gratitude for people,” in order to ultimately make the world a better place.
Graduating senior Audra Murdock created the class slideshow, which featured each member and often included scenes ranging from birth to senior photos. One picture included NBHS Principal Jon Berkeley with many of the seniors he taught when he was an elementary teacher. A few minutes later, Berkeley stood with Arnold and shook his former students’, the newly minted graduates’ hands.
With the release of blue and white balloons, the ceremony ended and the tearful hugs and exuberant cheers began, marking the next step in the lives of NBHS Class of 2017.