Sometimes the real world starts fast for graduating seniors.
Tyler Gress, a member of the Juneau-Douglas High School Class of 2001, which graduates Saturday evening, will continue his work as the Web master in Gov. Tony Knowles' office.
Gress, 18, interned in that role for about a year before taking it on as a part-time job over the winter. He'll continue full time this summer and next fall, when he also enrolls as a full-time student at the University of Alaska Southeast. Gress is a University of Alaska Scholar, winning a full scholarship for his high school academic standing.
With four advanced placement courses worth college credit under his belt as a high school student, Gress expects to be the equivalent of a junior after a year at UAS.
He was interested in independent investing for a while, but now he's looking heavily at engineering.
"I always liked math and science stuff more than other stuff," Gress said. "That always comes pretty easily.
"It's kind of like a puzzle and it goes together, and you get a good, solid answer, and you know it's right," he said.
Cal Craig, 18 will spend this summer as he has for many years - as a deck hand on his father's troller out of Elfin Cove, a tiny community just south of Glacier Bay National Park.
"I've been going on the boat since I was too young to stand. They hung me from the boom in a (harness)," Craig said.
Commercial fishing differs from other jobs, he said. "You really see where hard work turns into money. You get paid every day. I liked how hard work equaled more money, instead of going through the motions."
His summer work and life in the remote community of Elfin Cove, plus a research project on the Mendenhall Watershed for the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, have influenced Craig to study land rehabilitation at Montana State University in Bozeman. Craig was among a team of JDHS students who won the Alaska region National Ocean Sciences Bowl this year.
"I thought it would be interesting to see the results, apply them and see if everything got better, and fix something that really needs fixing," he said of his interest in science.
Craig also was an active athlete, playing junior varsity basketball for two years, football for two years, and soccer all four years, including this championship season. He said he considers soccer coach Gary Lehnhart and football coach Reilly Richey his friends.
Craig cites Lehnhart, a government teacher, English teacher George Gress, oceanography teacher Clay Good, and art teacher Jan Neimeyer as influences.
"They kind of challenge you," Craig said. "Those are the kind of teachers you don't want to turn in garbage to. They actually make you think. I really like that.
"They're teachers that I go in to talk to when I don't need to talk to them," he said.
For Elizabeth Price, 17, the encouragement and practical help by teachers and counselors in the Early Scholars Program for Native students led to college, where she may study nursing.
Counselor Frank Coenraad introduced Price to Fort Lewis College in Colorado, which she plans to attend for at least one year. She has a couple of scholarships, and also was accepted at Eastern Washington University.
"If I wasn't in the program, I probably wouldn't be going to college. I don't know what I'd be doing," Price said.
For some students, graduating from high school puts them at a crossroads without clear signs. Cedar McLean, 17, likes reading and writing but isn't sure what she'll do after graduation.
"I'd like to experiment with a lot of things and find what's right for me. I'd like to jump around and try a lot of jobs, to find what my calling is," McLean said.
She took her final year's courses at Yaa Koosge Daakahidi, the alternative program. The program's schedule allowed her to keep her job at a coffee shop.
"I really like this school better than JDHS, personally. I like how in small classes you get more attention from teachers, much more help," she said.
"I'm glad I stuck with it and didn't bail out. There was a while I was thinking of getting my GED, but I stuck with it. I'm glad I went through it, and I'm glad I didn't cut myself short," McLean said.
Eric Fry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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