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In Your Words: Shungnak graduates 9 seniors

May 19th | Roger Franklin Print this article   Email this article  

Last Friday night Shungnak High School held its 2017 graduation for nine students. The long arduous journey came to an end after five long years of what many thought was the impossible. The community and guests witnessed nine graduates sitting up on the stage anxiously waiting for the unknown to happen as they were being accepted by the Northwest Arctic Borough School District as graduates.

The last and final step was the turning of the tassel. Cheers rang through the school building, and all those in attendance lit up like the Fourth of July once their arms crossed their faces, nervously holding the gold tassels in their hands. We watched as our loving families, staff and guests rejoiced and reminisced every moment of this group's five-year plan that had finally come to fruition.

On Sept. 24, 2012, we made a commitment to the Shungnak community that our students would receive a sound education and that we would work tirelessly to ensure our students graduate. We pledged that this group of students would set the academic expectation for every class that would proceed after them. These graduates took on the challenge and now are reaping the rewards for their dedication and hard work.

Friends, family and guests spoke and shared about the graduates' journeys that were filled with some failures as well as successes, moreover, they spoke about their strength to overcome obstacles and about their unselfish giving of themselves to better their community. The hard work is about to begin for these graduates, not only academically, but in their personal lives. It is now time to become makers and keepers of their own dreams and destinies.

One true thing rang throughout the night, and that was the mantra standing tall on the battle field as our students transformed from students into role models. The nine will now make career choices and becoming productive citizens in our community, region, state, country and world. Everyone who spoke was honored to cite the community mantra: It's a "We" helped mold each graduate, our school and community into an academic and cultural success. The undeniable proof was on the stage. The Inupiaq culture stood tall within them in many forms, for it gave them a sturdy foundation to place alongside their academic successes.

We want to thank our Northwest Arctic Borough School District Regional School Board and members in attendance: Angela Washington, Tillie Tickett, Lawrence Jones Sr.; Dr. Annmarie O'Brien, superintendent, Northwest Arctic Borough School District, Director of Special Programs Cheryl Schweigert, Director of Technology Amy Eakin, Keynote Speaker Wayne Westlake, president of the NANA Corporation, Linda Lee, vice-chair of the NANA Corporation, Verna Westlake of TECK Inc., Mr. and Mrs. Love of Tennessee, Shungnak Elders, parents, community, students, visitors and lastly each and every one of the Shungnak school staff. Everyone untiringly worked together to make this milestone achievable and unforgettable for our graduates.

Roger Franklin is the Shungnak School principal.


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