Promotion is a milestone for middle school students

Fifteen 6th graders took part in the Ayaprun Elitnaurvik promotion ceremony last Wednesday. Photo by Xavier Slats/Ayaprun Elitnaurvik

by Greg Lincoln

The Ayaprun Elitnaurvik School celebrated the promotion of their 15 sixth graders. This promotion marked the end of their schooling at Ayaprun which took place last Wednesday and the beginning of their schooling at the Bethel Regional High School as seventh graders this coming fall.

It is a momentous occasion for the students and the staff at Ayaprun Elitnaurvik put on a memorable celebration with speeches, gift giving, Eskimo dancing, and refreshments.

The processional of graduates took place with the students descending the staircase at their school in the Kipusvik facility to the song “Yugiyama Ullagamken”. They were dressed in Eskimo dance regalia – the girls wore headdresses, piluguqs, and carried dance fans. Both boys and girls wore qaspeqs.

Gifts of appreciation were given to Principal Sak’aq Sam Crow, Kaligtuq Theresa Amik, and to the parents of the graduates who received personalized Ayaprun Elitnaurvik t-shirts.

A special gift was given to the 5th graders by the 6th graders which were also personalized tees.

Each student was introduced along with their families. Their parents and grandparents, where they are from, and notable characteristics of each student was read by longtime teacher Ayaprun Loddie Jones, whom the school is named after.

Attributes the students were credited for included: a love for Eskimo dancing and drumming, kindness to others, the joy of laughter, fish cutting, berry picking, helping with household chores, assisting younger siblings, boat riding trips, basketball, running, mathematics skills, camping, caring for family, Native Youth Olympics, compassion, heartfelt love for others, reading, drawing, fish camping, going on trips, teasing their friends, hunting and fishing, eating Native foods, humbleness, respect for others, love for dogs and animals, bike riding, shopping, being on the computer, science, and goals to become a heart surgeon.

Other likes included walking on the tundra, ice fishing, cooking, making baked bread and assaliaq, giving to elders, playing with toys, working out, taking care of game and subsistence foods, sewing, writing, singing, and attending church.

During an Eskimo dance, the parents of the graduates joined their children in a final dance together.

Special gifts were given to Uyaquq Sheri Neth and Angass’aq Sally Samson.

Everyone enjoyed the slideshow which was followed by gift giving to the audience. Household items and other useful things were distributed to everyone in attendance by the graduates.

As a final parting gift, Ayaprun Elitnaurvik gave their students personalized wooden plaques decorated with a salmon, their Yup’ik name, and the Ayaprun Elitnaurvik name. The salmon plaques were made by local artist Todd Fredericks.

A special quyana was bestowed upon Anman Melissa Gill for all her support and work to the graduating class. For the recessional, the students sang “Yugiyama Ullagamken” and were greeted by well-wishers.

Akutaqs, desserts, veggie and fruit platters, cake and punch was enjoyed by everyone. Congratulations graduates!


Angukarnaq Alexie (Harry & Sharon Alexie)

Cauyaq Amik (Brian and Jen Amik)

Qerrataralria Andrew (Noah Andrew Jr. and Alice Nicholai)

Angutekaar Ayagalria (Moses and Martina Ayagalria)

Tanuk’aq Bill (David and Linda Bill)

Tumaralria Carlson (Greg and Juliana Carlson)

Qakvalria Chase (Vernon and Dorothy Chase)

Nanugaq Fox (Harvey and Pauline Fox)

Al’aq Garrison (Darrell and Crystal Garrison)

Taurluq Jimmie (Alvin and Julia Jimmie)

Cungauyar Koutchak (Greg Koutchak and Jennessy Andrew)

Nanugaq Laraux (Charles and Melissa Laraux)

Qaluk’aq Motgin (Susan Motgin)

Cakayak Nicolai (Warren and Nancy Nicolai)

Ciukaq Whitney (Eric Whitney and Elizabeth Roll)