‘Embrace the challenges and adventures that await’

Homer Flex High School graduated 12 students in Tuesday’s commencement ceremony, held in the Quarter Deck at Land’s End Resort.

Following a welcome address by principal Christopher Brown and introduction of guests from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, staff members approached the podium to address the seniors gathered together on the platform.

Social studies teacher Annie Raatz shared some parting advice with the students based on a sticker she found recently that reads, “Don’t believe everything you think.”

“I think it’s good life advice that you can take with you,” she said. “Your brain shoots off a lot of different thoughts that bounce around in your head, and they are not all true. Some of them, when they come, you need to take the time to slow down, analyze the thought that you’re having, and say ‘Why did that pop into my head? Is that really true?’

“You might have thoughts like this: ‘I can’t do this. No one understands what I’m going through. I’m not good enough.’ Don’t believe everything you think.”

Josh Gates, who teaches math and science at Homer Flex, said that if he could leave his students with one thing, it would be to always communicate their appreciation to those they love.

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“Seniors, thank you for showing me that the talk of ‘Flex family’ is not just empty words,” he said. “Evident from day one, you cared for each other, and you have friendships among you that will likely last a lifetime. At the core of Flex is authentic community built on authentic relationships — and seniors, you have set the bar high and have made Flex a nourishing place to work, learn and grow. Job well done; now go and embrace the challenges and adventures that await you.”

Counselor Sue Rennolds addressed the students individually, noting positive qualities for each and how they’ve all grown over their time at Homer Flex High School.

“To all of the graduates, I appreciate each and every one of you and the gifts that you have brought to Flex,” she said. “No matter what obstacles you face or what challenges you experience, you are capable of so much. Remember, it only gets better.”

Language arts teacher Casey Yordy spoke on what comes next for the graduates.

“You are now responsible for commanding your future — a tall order to be sure. Tomorrow morning, things are going to feel different. Maybe not immediately, but that feeling of personal agency, despite being scary and hard at times, is the key to adult life. Use yours well.”

Yordy also said that the Class of 2024 holds a special place in his heart.

“I watched you grow, I watched you succeed, and I watched you fail only to stand back up at grow some more,” he said. “I will remember this class warmly and always.”

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Awards and scholarships were also presented to several of the students.

Wyatt Vogl was awarded a $1,000 scholarship from the Kachemak Bay Board of Realtors.

The Student of the Year award, which was created by the Homer Elks Lodge to “recognize (student) resilience” and is voted on by Homer Flex staff, went to Ashe Dias.

Archer Matysczak was presented with a $1,500 Open Hands scholarship by Colette Choate and Ben Gibson. The scholarship was created in memory of their fathers, Billy Choate and Steve Gibson, who were “particularly interested in promoting the practical and vocational education of young learners.”

The Masonic Outstanding Student award, also voted on by Homer Flex staff, went to Wyatt Counts.

Homer Flex’s small graduating class size allowed for a more personal commencement experience, with all 12 students giving speeches in which they recounted their favorite memories, shared their goals for the future and thanked family members, friends and Homer Flex staff.

Following what Brown called “his favorite Flex tradition,” several members of the audience were also able to share their thoughts and congratulations with the graduates during the ceremony.

Homer Flex Graduates of 2024

AJ Allowan

Wyatt Counts

Astraea Darden

Ashe Dias

Esmé Golden

June Evangeline Honan

Alexander LeBlanc

Diane Lemieux-Pietrowski

Archer Matysczak

Autumn Snedden

Jacob Thompson

Wyatt Vogl

Graduating senior AJ Allowan proceeds down the reception line, shaking hands with Homer Flex High School staff at the commencement ceremony on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, at Land’s End Resort in Homer, Alaska. (Delcenia Cosman/Homer News)

Graduating senior AJ Allowan proceeds down the reception line, shaking hands with Homer Flex High School staff at the commencement ceremony on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, at Land’s End Resort in Homer, Alaska. (Delcenia Cosman/Homer News)

Homer Flex graduates listen to senior Wyatt Counts present his speech to the audience, thanking family, friends and Homer Flex staff at the Homer Flex High School commencement ceremony on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, at Land’s End Resort in Homer, Alaska. (Delcenia Cosman/Homer News)

Homer Flex graduates listen to senior Wyatt Counts present his speech to the audience, thanking family, friends and Homer Flex staff at the Homer Flex High School commencement ceremony on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, at Land’s End Resort in Homer, Alaska. (Delcenia Cosman/Homer News)

Homer News