Against a backdrop of balloons — in the school colors of purple and black — Revilla Junior Senior High School graduates smiled for the camera and collected their diplomas at a walk-through graduation ceremony on Wednesday evening.
The Revilla Class of 2021 includes 25 graduates, and a majority of them turned up to collect their diplomas by walking down the Houghtaling Elementary School bus line and taking photos in front of their school, with teachers and family looking on.
Each graduate made a walk at staggered times throughout the evening, with 10-minute breaks between each student to keep social distance at the event.
A handful of Revilla staff, as well as a limited number of guests per student, watched the graduates.
Teacher Addie Roth told the Daily News that the Revilla graduates had persevered through a year made difficult by the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
“These kids have worked hard,” Roth said. “It’s been a tough year, it was a tough last year, and I mean, (when) they came out of last year, some of them were a little behind because of COVID and there was no chance for them to make up credit, so they’ve had to really come and work hard, and these kids all deserve it. Each and every one of them deserves this so much, and they should be so proud of themselves.”
Roth also noted that modifications were made to the school building to keep the small student body safe and compliant with COVID-19 recommendations during the school year. Changes to the school building included moving desks and taking over the school’s kitchen to create distance between students, further separating the junior high and high school students and limiting school activities.
Revilla Principal Kurt Lindemann also reflected on the 2020-21 school year, which he said didn’t bring too many changes to the school’s daily operations.
“We had a great school year,” Lindeman said. “We weren’t shut down all year, we had our kids here most, by far most of the days, had a couple of half capacity (days), but other than that we had a great school year. We’d rather be back to the way it was, but all in all, pretty positive.”
About Wednesday’s graduation, Lindeman said that although it isn’t a typical graduation ceremony, “it’s nice that we can do it in front of our school.”
Class of 2021 graduate Joleyn Cobbs was one of many graduates to make the walk down Baranof Avenue on Wednesday evening.
Cobbs told the Daily News later that evening that she had been a Revilla student since eighth grade, and reflected on what she appreciated most about her school.
“I like the teacher aspect of (Revilla), and we can all get our own help, in a sort of way,” Cobbs said. “Like, they work with students really well, so it’s more of a one-on-one school instead of a on-on-25 (school). And I feel more at home here, and I have great connections with teachers, and I’m really comfortable sharing stuff with them.”
Cobbs said she had been excited for her graduation day.
“I was like, “It’s about time,’” she laughed. “So now I can start moving on to other things and get my degree and everything.”
Cobbs wants to study to work in trauma nursing or nursing in an emergency department setting, a goal she has had since starting her high school career.
Cobbs said that her favorite memory was talking about books with her English teacher, as they each would interpret the materials in a different way and engage in lively discussions.
“She found it funny that I would argue with her about the way it’s written,” Cobbs explained.
Cobbs noted that she was celebrating her graduation by going home with her family to relax after what she said was a stressful day of preparing.
Another Class of 2021 graduate, Aaron Houthoofd, is planning to join the U.S. Marines after graduation.
“The military has been a goal for me for a while now,” he told the Daily News, noting that his grandparents were formerly in the U.S. military. “So I kind of had an idea about it, (but) about which branch I had no clue.”
He attended Revilla for about two and a half years.
“I feel like Revilla gives you an option to get to know the teachers a lot more, and the teachers understand what position you’re in, depending on what position you’re in,” he said.
Houthoofd said his favorite high school experiences came from time spent with his friends, “hanging out with them, going to the basketball games and stuff.”
Four-year Revilla student Happy Schomaker is solidifying his post-high school plans.
“I don’t really know yet, I might go to school up at UAS, and I’m probably going to work construction with my parents,” Schomaker said.
He said his best memory from attending Revilla was “just random little stuff.”
“Because there’s always people coming in and out, they go there for a few months and then they leave, so (it’s) like fun getting friendships for a little bit,” Schomaker explained.
Two students also received annual scholarships from the school upon graduation. The Doug Gregg Determination scholarship and the Charlie Jones Perseverance scholarship are each worth $250 and went to Zevin Wells and Melanie Vasquez, respectively.