Seats of the Petersburg High School gym filled with family and friends last Wednesday to say goodbye to another school year and another class of graduates.
The 2012 graduating class of PHS proceeded into the room with the band playing in the background and to begin the event Elinor Robinson sang the “Star Spangled Banner”.
PHS Principal Rick Dormer welcomed the graduates and reflected on the past year.
“I want to thank each of you seniors,” Dormer said. “You have brought color and delight to this school and there isn’t an ‘Average Joe’ in the bunch.”
Salutatorian Hugh Fleming stepped to the podium to address his classmates for the last time as a student.
“We entered these halls as high school students,” Fleming said. “But we leave as adults.”
Emotional and inspirational words were conveyed to his fellow graduates. “Right now we sit at the peak of a mountain studying the expanse below,” Fleming said. “We have the world at our fingertips.”
Fleming also stated that it has been a blast growing up in this wonderful community of Petersburg with such great classmates.
PHS Historian Joe Zarlengo, who found it ironic that he was named Historian considering he has only been a part of this class since his freshman year.
Zarlengo shared stories from his classmates including tales of a jumping dragon, forbidden greenhouse and peppers, the complexity of navigational skills, the importance of staying awake on a boat watch and respecting your elders. All stories and renditions were told with Zarlengo’s personal sense of humor and obvious pride in the community and his classmates.
Kyla Compton presented the senior class gift of $1,300 to update the marquee.
Valedictorian Carolyn Kvernvik stated in her address, “Before we venture out we have to stop and be thankful, and we have a lot to be thankful for.”
The size of this graduation class of 26 was a main point for Kvernvik. “We may be a small class,” she said. “But we make a big impact, and we are now ready to make the next steps in our lives.”
PHS math teacher, Bev Siercks was the class elected speaker for the 2012 graduation ceremonies.
“I am honored to be asked to make this address,” Siercks said. “I expected to be seated with my colleagues listening to the speech instead of giving it.”
After 37 years of teaching, high school, Siercks will retire. “Yours is the last class I will see through high school,” Siercks said.
She stated that these students should view their high school years and life as a math problem and work through the process step-by-step with step one being the problem; step two, the ‘stuff between’ and step three, the solution.
“Your years in high school are over,” Siercks said. “Your beginning, the ‘stuff between’ and this is your solution and ending.”
She also said, “Take this time to enjoy the view from the top and make the ‘stuff between’ your start and finish count for everything.”
Dormer and Rachel Etcher presented scholarships to the following students; recipients for the Elks Scholastic Scholarship were Carolyn Kvernvik, Haley Kelley and Joe Zarlengo; the Elks National Foundation Legacy Award went to Julia Buschmann and the State Elks Vocational Grant was awarded to Jacob Loucks. The scholarship of Compass Theater, Inc. went to Kyla Compton and Brittany Fonseca. The Moose Lodge Mary Anne Greseth Memorial was awarded to Kvernvik; the Moose Ginny Clark Memorial went to Kelley; the Moose W.T. Snyder Memorial was awarded to Loucks and the Moose Family Academic Scholarship went to Maria Lopez and Buschmann. The Petersburg Pilot Scholarship was awarded to Buschmann and the Bob Jones Memorial Scholarship went to Jacob Loucks. A scholarship from the Petersburg Indian Association was awarded to Kelley and the Local Emblem Club scholarship went to Kvernvik and Kelley. The Petersburg Vessel Owners Association scholarship was awarded to Loucks and the Petersburg Municipal Employees Association awarded a scholarship to Kvernvik. The Petersburg Rotary Club scholarship went to Kelley and Emily Luczak and the Women of the Moose awarded their scholarship to Kelley. The Jessica Peterson Memorial scholarship went to Luczak, Loucks, Kvernvik, Kelley and Ian McCallum and the Viking Swim Club awarded its scholarship to Preston Marsh and McCallum. The Associated Teachers of Petersburg presented their scholarship award to Kvernvik; the Alaska Longline Fisheries scholarship was awarded to McCallum and Kvernvik and the ANB/ANS scholarship went to Kelley. The Petersburg Volunteer Fire Department awarded its scholarships to Kvernvik and Ariel Fonseca; the Sons of Norway scholarship went to Kvernvik and Buschmann and the Arthur Lopez Memorial scholarship went to Kelley and Lopez. The KRSA scholarship was awarded to Kelley and Loucks and the KFSK scholarship went to Kelley. The Alaska Marine Lines Chamber of Commerce scholarship was awarded to Luczak, the Cold Storage Workers scholarship went to McCallum and Lopez and the Don Harry Kito Memorial scholarship went to Hugh Fleming. The Emery Erwin Memorial scholarship was awarded to Kelley; the Icicle Seafoods (PFI) scholarship went to Buschmann and Kvernvik and the Alaska State Employees Association scholarship went to Kvernvik. The Gordon/Helmie Jensen Memorial scholarship was awarded to Kvernvik; the Aaron Mearig Memorial scholarship went to Loucks and Bessie Johnson; the Eric Corl Memorial scholarship went to Johnson and Loucks; the Michael Wittstock Memorial was awarded to Loucks; the Edwin Fuglvog Memorial Award went to Kvernvik; the Clifford Mark Fosse Award went to Zarlengo and Marsh; the Nancy Harris Scholarship went to Lopez and the Stewart Wright Scholarship was awarded to Fleming. The last scholarship to be awarded for the evening was by the United States Coast Guard. This prestigious scholarship which consists of over $400,000 was awarded to Zarlengo.
Scholarships given for the evening totaled $54,850 with an overall scholarship total coming to $430,526.
The acceptance of the class by PHS Superintendent Dr. Rob Thomason preceded the presentation of diplomas given by PHS Board President Jean Ellis.
As the last name, Cody Allen Wegener, was called, Wegener led the class in the time honored tradition of turning the tassel.