Akiachak Graduation

“Shoot For the Stars”

by Mary George

May 2, 2023, marked the date of the Akiachak 2023 graduation. Held in the gymnasium, 19 seniors and 15 8th graders stood in recognition as they received their diplomas. The affair began at 6 p.m. with a full crowd of family and teachers proudly acknowledging the children.

On stage were board members, Robert Charles and Lilian Alexie, superintendent Scott Ballard, and principal Barron Sample.

Retiring school personnel were honored as well. Katie George, Elena Charles, Mary Peter, and Bertha Phillip were each awarded a certificate of appreciation for decades-long service to the Yupiit School District.

The seniors chose a class motto that celebrated their philosophy: “Our lives are before us, our pasts are behind us, our memories are forever within us.”

The opening speech was given by the superintendent who encouraged the students, wished them the best of luck, and stated that the strength of the Yup’ik culture would support them during life’s changes.

Board member Robert Charles opened his speech with the words: “This is a great day!” He spoke about the power of the diploma, and his advice was to “use it well.” He referred to the diploma as an insurance plan, stating that its “value depends on (the students’) efforts.”

Guest speaker Brian Sacry, long-time elementary teacher, talked about fishing as a metaphor for life.

Senior Valedictorian was Arianna Phillip and Salutatorian was Ciuk Slats. Both thanked their families for supporting and encouraging them along the way. Eight grade Salutatorian was Tom Kasayulie and Valedictorian was Connor Snyder.

Winners of the UA scholarships were awarded to Ariana Phillip and Emera Alexie. Other awards presented were from ASAA for high GPA and awarded to Richelle Phillip and Grayson Disignore. Grateful for their service at the graduation include Scott Ballard, Robert Charles, Barron Sample, Brian Sacry, Eranne Clada, Attat Charles.

On May 6, thirteen seniors and their chaperones will travel to Los Angeles for ten days.