About 460 students are scheduled to march across the stage, receive a diploma and walk into the real world Sunday.
On Wednesday morning the soon-to-be graduates rehearsed in the Juneau-Douglas High School gymnasium for Sunday's big show at 2 p.m. at the JDHS gym.
A somewhat random sampling of those present showed a class with diverse plans for the future. Some will go out of state for college, some will join the military and others will take time off to figure out the next step.
But while their plans may be different, the students interviewed shared many of the same thoughts and feelings about their time as students in Juneau. They said they feel they've grown up substantially and are older and wiser than when they started high school four years ago.
They also said it was time to move on.
"I think everybody's ready to go," Kacy Carlson said. The hockey team captain said he plans on going to school in Oregon to study geology, but plans on getting a job as an emergency rescuer.
"It's over," echoed Richard Tagaban. Named the top Tlingit speaker of the 2008 graduating class, Tagaban said he plans to attend University of Alaska Southeast to study Tlingit arts and language and become a teacher.
Margaret Rehfeld, who has been active in sports and theater, including starring in "Les Miserables" during her time at JDHS, said she also plans to become a teacher. She said she will be attending the University of Idaho next year.
Rehfeld said she lacked self-confidence when she started at JDHS as a freshman. But now said she feels like she's "developed as a person" and is "kinda excited."
"This is just the end of one of my chapters and the beginning of another one," she said.
One of Rehfeld's fellow cast members during this year's JDHS theater production of "Les Miserables" was David Easaw, who was recently named prom king by his classmates.
Easaw plans on taking a year from his studies to work and figure out what he wants to do. He said the looming responsibilities associated with adulthood can feel overwhelming.
"More than anything, I am freaked out," he said.
He said it will be tough to see some of his friends go off to college next year while he stays in town. But, he said, "I'm on a different road, and I'm OK with that."
Easaw said he works at a frozen yogurt stand and is looking for another job. His classmate Cate Ross said she already knows where she'll be working this summer.
Ross said she's been busy fixing up a fishing boat and plans to have it in working condition soon. She said she and her younger sister have saved up to buy a commercial fishing permit, and she is looking forward to working out at sea this summer.
"I absolutely love being out there," Ross said.
While Ross will likely be fishing, classmate Eric Clark is scheduled to report to basic training later this summer to become a Marine.
Clark said he's eager join the Marine Corps and wants to see combat.
"I want to serve my country, fight, and pretty much kick some ass," he said.
A few seats over from Clark during Wednesday's rehearsal was Jake Chamberlin, who stuck out wearing a leather jacket, high-top sneakers and sporting bleached blond hair.
Chamberlin said he'll be attending fashion school in New York City next year. He described his progression during his four years at JDHS as:
"Clueless freshman, troublemaker sophomore, ambivalent junior, driven senior."
Jeremy Hall showed a lot of drive to make it to Sunday's graduation. As an Alaska Native male with learning disabilities, Hall is part of a demographic that has one of the lowest graduation rates in the state. Hall said he had trouble with some of the teachers at JDHS and would have dropped out had it not been for Yaakoosgé Daakahídi, the alternative high school where Hall finished his studies.
Hall said he's proud of himself for not becoming another statistic.
"Not only did I graduate, but I did it drug-free," Hall said.
At Sunday's graduation ceremony, students with high grade-point averages will be recognized. One of those will be Aubrey Hulse, the senior class president. Headed off to Oregon State University next year, Hulse said she feels like the education she's received in Juneau will serve her well.
"I am pleased with my education, yes," Hulse said.
Contact reporter Alan Suderman at 523-2268 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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