A parade of 139 seniors entered the Kodiak High School gymnasium Sunday evening to the sound of applauding family members who packed the floor and bleachers. 

The graduation ceremony for the Class of 2021 served as both a reminder of the pandemic — with social distancing and facial masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — and a sign of more optimistic times in holding one large ceremony like those preceding 2020.

Last year, Kodiak High School held seven separate ceremonies at the height of the pandemic to ensure graduates and family members were safe.

“This year has been an amazing year for what all of our students have accomplished while in the midst of a global pandemic,” said Principal Neil Hecht during his introduction speech.

Kodiak Island Borough School District Board President Julie Hill echoed Hecht’s comment, noting students were successful “in navigating a new way of learning during a pandemic.”

“If it’s anything you’ve learned this year, it is that you are resilient and capable of overcoming adversity,” Hill said.

Senior Janny Eng presided over the valedictorian address, noting that when graduates eventually leave Kodiak, they “will realize how utterly different Kodiak is” and that it “diverges from the norm because it is a microcosm.”  

Keith Bruce said in his salutatorian address that he approached his studies over the last year much like he did his sports practice. Kassandra Agonoy presided over the KHS class president’s speech. 

Guest speaker Katrina Stewart, a KHS teacher and instructional support specialist, provided words of hope for the Class of 2021. She said that graduation in any year is worthy of celebration, but “the trials and tribulations of this past year have intensified things, many of them hard.”

“You are the heroes of your own stories, transformed and reborn with so much to offer the world,” Stewart said. She encouraged seniors to stay connected with one another and the greater world.

After being presented their diplomas, seniors and families were directed through different exits to meet in front of the high school lobby. Families greeted diploma-bearing graduates with hugs, cheers of congratulations and an abundance of post-ceremony decorations.

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