Nile C. Kinnick 2014 graduation ceremony

Story and photos by MC3 Marissa Valentine

Yokosuka, Japan (May 10, 2014) – Senior Dustin Wilson embraces  principal, Emmalie Lee upon receiving his diploma  during the Nile C. Graduation ceremony held at the Yokosuka Arts Center Friday June 6.  Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Marissa Valentine, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs

Yokosuka, Japan (May 10, 2014) – Senior Dustin Wilson embraces principal, Emmalie Lee upon receiving his diploma during the Nile C. Graduation ceremony held at the Yokosuka Arts Center Friday June 6. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Marissa Valentine, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs

Fleet Activities (FLEACT), Yokosuka’s Nile C. Kinnick High senior class graduated in front of family and friends during a ceremony conducted in their honor at the Yokosuka Arts Center, June 6.

In all, a total of 116 Red Devils marched across the stage to receive their diplomas.

Valedictorian Helena Harriss began her speech with a quote that her words described the individuality of her classmates.

“As the great Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland, once said, ‘We are all mad here. I’m mad, you’re mad, you must be mad, or you wouldn’t have come here.’ What strikes me about Kinnick is the way that all students here are unique, it’s like we are each a little crazy in our own way. I love how we each come at problems with different mindsets, and different approaches and work together to find solutions,” said Harriss.

Having the ceremony take place at the arts center provided a unique cultural experience for those in attendance.

She continued on.

“Isnt it crazy all of the things we’ve accomplished as a class? Our class had the most spirit points of course. Our school has been recognized by the Japanese community for feeding the homeless. Our football team beat Yokota. Our NJROTC color guard won 1st place this year. And all this despite the separations and uncertainty caused by the events of March 11, 2011,” said Harriss.

Harriss concluded her speech by encouraging her classmates to make memories that would surpass those they made while in Kinnick.

“Now this is probably the most important day of your life thus far and we are just walking across a stage dressed in robes and funny hats. Many say that high school is the best years of your life, but I sincerely hope it is not the time of your life. In fact, I hope that the memories that you make as you leave Kinnick blow all your previous triumphs away.”

Graduation day is celebrated in a similar fashion for high school seniors throughout the United States. For Nile C. Kinnick students, the opportunity to graduate while living on a base located in Japan was a unique cultural experience.
Commander Fleet Activities, Yokosuka, Capt. David T. Glenister, provided remarks as the honored guest speaker for the event. “There are some times in your life where you will come across success, and you think is this it? People have asked me, ‘What was it like to take command of a naval station? What was it like to command a ship? What was that feeling?’ As I said today I got the chance to promote a bunch of young petty officers to the next level of the Navy. You wonder what it’s like to be 46 years old, you wonder what it’s like to be an adult and have a career. I will tell you it feels no different than it feels right now. The same feeling I had when I took command is the same feeling I had when I got accepted to Notre dame; the same feeling I had when I got my first ribbon, and the same feeling I had when I graduated from high school myself. Success feels the same. Become addicted to it, and make your life a success, said Glenister.

Upon the conclusion of Glenister’s speech, students received their high school diplomas, signifying the beginning of a new chapter within all of their lives.

Salutatorian Tristan McCarty left his classmates with these wise words.

“I hope that later in my life, when I have mostly forgot of my high school years and have become caught up with daily life, that I will hear of the great exploits of my peers. That one of you has bettered the world in some way, whether by inventing something, leading something, and generally putting your mind to the test. Overcoming the various barriers life puts in our way, being selfless and putting others before ourselves, and creating a better place for the following generations to grow in and improve as well. As we go from this stepping stone to the next and into adulthood, let’s make sure to show the world what we have to offer. What we have to improve our world. Despite the walls we had to climb over to do it, despite the longer and tougher roads we had to take, despite the long hours it required, we now move forward. The night is dark and full of terrors, the day bright and beautiful and full of hope. Congratulations we did it.”

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