Eagle River’s smallest senior class prepares for change

Wednesday, July 5, 2017 - 13:22
  • Eagle River Christian School Valedictorian William Hunter Barndt smiles for a senior yearbook photo. One of four students in the ERCS Class of 2017, Brandt has attended the local private school since age 5. (Photo courtesy ERCS)

To William Hunter Barndt, a senior at Eagle River Christian School, school is more like a second home, making the rest of the senior class more like family than classmates.

“It’s really cool, because us four – we’re actually extremely best friends,” he said. “It’s our squad.”

The squad includes Barndt, Alec Von Heavener, Raymond Joseph Jones and Lucas Allen Just – the ERCS Class of 2017. Barndt met them all in elementary and middle school, he said. Now, he’s preparing to graduate with them.

“I look back, and I’m, like — it’s already the end,” he said. “It’s been a journey – it’s been great.”

The local private school held its spring graduation May 20. For Barndt it’s the culmination of something that’s lasted for most of his life.

He began attending ERCS at age five, he said. He’s seen teachers come and go. He had more classmates once, he said. By high school, though, most of them had moved out of state or on to other schools. By their senior year, there were just three of them left.

This semester, with only two courses on his schedule, Barndt didn’t see his classmates as often as before — but they still get together online nearly every day, chatting and hanging out and competing in games like Overwatch, StarCraft, Destiny and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.

“We play whenever we can –it’s just a relaxing thing,” Barndt said.

Overall, there’s not too much time for relaxing these days. Since his sophomore year, Barndt has worked at WalMart to save money for college. He holds regular shifts in between class and studying, he said. This summer, he hopes to work even more: He has his sights set on attending the University of Alaska Anchorage, where he’d like to earn a degree in computer or mechanical engineering, he said.

But he’s still figuring it all out. In the meantime, he said, there are more immediate things to think about. Like graduation itself.

Three weeks before the big day, Barndt said he felt “excited but nervous.” The memories seemed to flow through him. He said he could still remember fifth grade, almost like it was yesterday. Things are changing fast now. At this time last year, he stressed about homework. This year, he said, he stresses about life.

“Getting ready to go into the adult world — do all the stuff by yourself, move out,” he said. “Growing up, really – that’s been the hardest part.”

Eagle River Christian School Class of 2017

William Hunter Barndt – Valedictorian

Alec Von Heavener - Salutatorian

Raymond Joseph Jones

Lucas Allen Just

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