Kendra Barnes was active in the music and theater programs at Juneau-Douglas High School and she'll probably study music, theater and literature in college. Allan Anderson didn't grow up thinking he'd be going to college, but a high school program has led to scholarships and plans to study business.
The graduating seniors and about 325 others in the JDHS Class of 2001 will get their diplomas in a ceremony Saturday night. But they've already taken what matters most from the high school and its teachers, and it will help shape the next stage in their lives.
"My parents are forever telling me I'm involved in too many things," said Barnes. "Why? Oh, because I never seem to have any time to sleep."
The 18-year-old, who will attend Agnes Scott College in Georgia in the fall, was on the drama team, performed in "Dracula," helped edit the school paper, swam on the school team, participated in academic decathlon, played string bass in the orchestra and sang in the jazz and concert choirs.
"The ability to do these things is just as much a part of your education as math," she said.
Barnes was in the high school's project-based Phoenix program in her sophomore and junior years and felt it reflected the skills she'd need for the real world. But when Phoenix closed at the end of last school year, it was easier for her to take music and theater classes.
"Drama and music enrich my life. They allow my imagination to just take wing and fly," Barnes said. "Not only can I experience it, but I can also share it if I choose to perform it, which is the purpose. You're not supposed to keep it, you're supposed to share it."
Anderson, 18, didn't think he'd be going to college. But the high school's Early Scholars Program for Native students helped him with study skills, critical thinking and computer courses at UAS, college visits, and guidance in applying to colleges and for scholarships.
He spent three years in the program, and served as a teacher's assistant for two years in the classroom that had Early Scholars so they would keep up their grade-point average.
Now Anderson, who has several scholarships, expects to attend the University of Alaska Southeast or Portland Community College.
"I'm looking at business. I like working with numbers, accounting. And I don't think I'd even be looking at that if it wasn't for Early Scholars," Anderson said.
Joseph Crowley, 18, likes to play basketball and football, but he socialized too much, didn't do his homework and didn't have the grades to play on the high school teams, he said. After four years at JDHS he still needed a math credit and some electives, so he finished up at Yaa Koosge Daakahidi, the alternative program.
"The teaching staff is excellent," Crowley said. "Everybody thinks the school is for the bad kids, the troubled kids, but it's not. It's for everybody."
Crowley said Yaa Koosge math teacher Rick Bass knows how to break down problems and "make it go from math terms to English in ways we can understand it."
Crowley hasn't applied to college yet, but he'd like to become an elementary school teacher.
"I think that would be very awesome. I just get a thrill out of seeing people teach," he said.
Daniel Brown, 18, credits the high school's CHOICE program and Yaa Koosge with helping him graduate. CHOICE serves students who are at risk of dropping out.
"The regular high school, it's like teachers don't really take time to do things. At Yaa Koosge and CHOICE they have time to figure out your name, time to know what you've done and haven't done, and make sure you stay on track," Brown said.
"I think I can only function in environments like that where people care. If nobody cares, I don't care," he said.
Brown singled out CHOICE teacher Laury Scandling for pointing him in the right direction and keeping him going that way. She set standards and gave students a chance to redo their work if it was wrong, he said.
"She never gives up on any student. It's usually the student who gives up on her," Brown said.
Brown's not sure what he'll do after high school - work, college or trade school, he said. But he feels well-prepared.
"Either way, it's going to be education, because if I get a job, I'm going to learn how to do something," he said.
Barnes, the student interested in the arts, praised music teacher Susan Horst and English teacher George Gress for their love of what they teach, and drama teacher Bethany Bereman and music teacher Ken Guiher for not settling for less than her best.
"They're all interesting people, they all love what they're doing, and they're all good teachers. With that combination, how can you fail?" Barnes said.
"Things end because there's something else to go into," she said. "There's things out there that need doing, and I'm going to go out there and do it."
Eric Fry can be reached at email@example.com.
More profiles of JDHS graduating seniors will appear in Friday's Empire.
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