The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Heidi Zemach
For the LOG 

SHS graduates Class of 2014


Heidi Zemach | For The LOG

Seward High School Class of 2014 toss their caps in the air, signifying freedom, and the end of the graduation ceremony.

In an exuberant, sometimes tearful ceremony, 41 excited, nervous students graduated from Seward High School Tuesday night. Watching them, and oh so proud, were their friends, siblings, parents, grandparents and many of the teachers who had once been theirs.

About a dozen had attended Seward Schools since kindergarten, and their elders remembered when they were just toddlers – even without the slideshow to remind them.

Ashley von Borstel, a top student who excelled in five sports and cheerleading, and performed in every school play was the class valedictorian. She also sang the national anthem flawlessly with Hayden Tiner, and a solo piece called "Graduation-Friends Forever," by Vitamin C.

Nicholas Zweifel, another top student-athlete, was the class salutatorian. He's going on to the Air Force Academy to study aeronautical engineering with the help of generous scholarships.

The guest speaker was SHS History Teacher Chad Hinders, who is known for his memorable quotes and anecdotes. They're so popular that students created a Facebook page for his best ones, including "Twerking 101," referring to a popular dance form, his true story about Al Roker removing his pants at the White House, and his firm belief that people who yell "Yolo" (an acronym for living life fully) deserve to be punched in the face.

After humorously roasting some student's characters and behaviors as they prepared a trolley for homecoming as freshmen, Hinders commented that they're exactly the same people today. Society overrates change, he said, and urged his students not to change a whit.

Veronica Wilde's speech was downright poetic and zen-like as she urged her fellow students to question everything, to rejoice in what they learn and spread it everywhere, to accept failure in themselves and others, but dwell only on what they can do, not what they can't. Wilde concluded by asking them to imagine that our delicate world is made of sugar. Protect and care for it, but don't be afraid to reach out your tongue and taste it, too.

Heidi Zemach | For The LOG

SHS graduating senior Noah Hamlin just can't help dancing as he walks off after receiving his diploma.

Mothers clutching flowers cried, and accepted hugs from others as daughters who had overcome disease and other serious setbacks to get there passed them by in the processional. Some, who had provided homes for other's parent's children were there for them once again, and grinned up upon seeing them so happy, and moving their lives into such positive, independent directions.

Noah Hamlin broke out into a happy, boastful dance step during the otherwise solemn processional. Rachel Tougas and Isabel Barnwell, honor society members who graduated early to tour Norway and Europe before leaving for college in the fall, happily greeted their friends and parents, so glad to see them safely home.

A sophomore in the audience commented afterward that she began to get emotional after only five minutes into the ceremony as she realized that she only had something like a 1,905 days left before she too would be leaving high school.

"I love it here," she exclaimed.


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