Pomp and circumstance, and super heroes

Graduation ceremonies offer tears, laughter and memories


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Lucas Mahi delivered a very humorous student speaker address to the Eagle River crowd at the graduation ceremony at the Sullivan Arena May 15.

MICHAEL DINNEEN

There were balloons. And confetti. A little bit of dancing, and a whole lot of laughter.

And, of course, tears: Joyful, happy, proud, ecstatic tears.

The Chugiak and Eagle River Class of 2014 graduations took place at the Sullivan Arena on a sunny Thursday.

The ceremonies were similar, yet uniquely different.

Chugiak kicked it off in the early afternoon, with students wearing black robes, many of their necks adorned graduation leis filled with candy, flowers and other goodies.

The speeches were short and to the point, especially the keynote address by Colette Marshall, who retired this year.

“I want you to have a life that is full of happiness and joy,” she said, her voice breaking. “Don’t go through life—experience it.”

Class speaker Brandon Coleman wore blaring bright orange sneakers, and his speech matched his footwear: It was short, funny and strangely poignant.

The Eagle River graduation followed later in the evening and offered more in-depth speeches, with Valedictorian Kevin Palisoc talking about his passion for learning, which he termed “an almost obsession.”

Instructor Katherine Campbell told the graduates that they must “dare to fail.”

And then class speaker Lucas Mahi hit the stage, and the ceremony became a little more upbeat, a little more fun. Mahi warned that his speech might “be a little shocking.”

And then he talked about, well, Batman. And super heroes. He used his Batman voice and quoted from the Power Rangers.

Students laughed and nodded their heads, and the female students tapped the toes of their shoes.

And what shoes there were! Sandals and sparkly-pink sneakers, cowboy boots and high heels of every possible color and shape.

After the diplomas were handed out, confetti and balloons rained down and the newly-graduated gathered with family and friends for hugs and selfies.

“It feels a little shocking,” Chugiak graduate Jeshua Barker said. “I’m a man now. I’ve been after this all of my life and now it’s over.

Chugiak graduate Matthew Remer, who will be attending the Art Institute of Seattle in the fall, put it a little differently. “I studied for tests and worked to get through classes. And I did it.”

“It feels,” he said, his voice rising over the persistent popping of balloons. “It feels amazing.”

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