Speaker Mark McNamara related basketball to life and valedictorian Hannah Wing wore XtraTufs at a Haines High School commencement ceremony Tuesday that graduated 27 seniors at Karl Ward Gym.
Two television camera men and a sound technician from the Discovery Channel filmed the ceremony and a reception line afterwards, tracking senior Parker Schnabel, star of the reality TV show “Gold Rush.”
McNamara, a former professional basketball player who also helped Haines win two state hoops championships since coming here in 2004, described himself as “the slowest guy in the NBA.” But he said setbacks in his life and career served as important turning points.
“Things happen and you think it’s the end of the world, but it’s actually the beginning of a brand, new world,” he said. He recounted a magic moment defending against legendary Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan in a one-on-one situation near the end of a tied game.
“He went by me and I didn’t even touch him, but the ball was in my hands, and I had no idea why,” he said. McNamara passed to teammate Charles Barkley who slammed home a dunk for the win, he said.
“Pick up a philosophy. Think about what’s right for you and what’s good for you and make that your character,” McNamara told graduates. McNamara said the last thing on Earth he dreamed of after working with Shaquille O’Neal would be teaching basketball in Haines.
Salutatorian Marnie Rasmussen said the night brought excitement, relief and bittersweetness. “I urge you to explore as much as you can, find the things and people that make you happy and surround yourself with them. Don’t allow yourself to be miserable in any aspect of your life, because you have the courage and the ability to change it, and the choice is yours.”
She also read an original poem that found virtues in wildlife. “Brilliant little creatures, your resourcefulness our guide, humanity needs humility, rid us of our pride,” it read.
Valedictorian Hannah Wing invited guests to “feast your eyes on this handsome bunch.” She asked the crowd to remember how their lives were affected by members of the graduating class. “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains, and is immortal,” she said, citing an Albert Pine quote.
Wing spoke about the attributes of each of her classmates and cited a quotation on the importance of living on a level of expanded consciousness. “It’s my prayer that each of you would continue to extend your energies toward those around you, in hope of experiencing that smaller segment of humanity, a unified meaning,” she said.
Many of the graduates wore novelty footwear, including bedroom slippers and work boots.
Superintendent Michael Byer said after the ceremony that he didn’t hear any complaints about the television camera crew’s presence at the event. He said he was notified about a week ago that they would be filming the graduation. The crew was refused entrance to the prom, which wasn’t a public event, he said.
Winners of scholarships, including ones made by local organizations, received recognition at a ceremony Monday at the school. Graduating seniors and former graduates receiving them were:
Quinn Asquith-Heinz, Tamara Hyatt Hanson Fine Arts Scholarship ($500); Austin Badger, University of Colorado Boulder Presidential Scholarship ($55,000), Delta Western Scholarship ($10,000); Hunter Badgley, Haines Volunteer Fire Dept. ($500), American Legion Scholarship ($500), Pioneers of Alaska ($500); Esther Bower, Lynn Canal Conservation Scholarship ($500); Emily Bowman, Trinity Presidential Scholarship ($48,000), Chatham University Scholarship ($1,000); Devin Braaten, Jamestown Track & Field Scholarship ($2,500 per year), Jamestown Merit Scholarship ($6,000 per year); Brook Cinocco, Pat Jones Scholarship, Haines Womens’ Club, ($750); Kelly Hansen, American Legion Scholarship ($500); Brandon Haxton, Dean’s Award from Rocky Mountain College ($28,000), Rocky Mountain College Bear Grant ($29,920); Anna Jacobson, Gilliam Foundation Scholarship ($2,000), CalPoly Scholarship ($2,000 per year), Haines Volunteer Fire Dept. ($500), ANS Camp 5 Scholarship ($300). Jeremy Larson; Haines Womens’ Club ($500). Crystalyn Lemieux, American Legion Scholarship ($500), ANS Camp 5 Scholarship ($200); Jolene Lemieux, ANS Camp 5 Scholarship ($200); Kimberly Lemieux, American Legion Scholarship ($500), ANS Camp 5 Scholarship ($700), Sealaska Scholarship ($1,103); Teolani Lynch, ANS Camp 5 Scholarship ($500), Horatio Alger Scholarship ($5,000); Amey Messerschmidt, Haines Emblem Club ($750); Ashley Messerschmidt, Haines Emblem Club ($750), Haines Women’s Club Mildred Hermann Scholarship ($750), ANS Camp 5 Scholarship ($300); Renae Miner, Haines Volunteer Fire Dept. ($500), Haines Emblem Club ($500), Haines Womens’ Club ($500); Ryan Olsen, American Legion Scholarship ($500), Haines Emblem Club ($500); Vanessa Phillips Salmon, American Legion Auxiliary Annabel Cary Scholarship ($500); Jordan Piper, Tamara Hyatt Hanson Fine Arts Scholarship ($500); Marnie Rasmussen, Seattle Pacific University Dean’s Scholarship ($40,000), UAS Leadership Scholarship (housing waiver), Haines Volunteer Fire Dept. ($500), American Legion Auxiliary Scholarship ($500); Amanda Smalley, Haines Emblem Club ($1,000), ANS Camp 5 Scholarship ($300), Haines School Staff/HEA ($725); Ryan Smalley, American Legion Scholarship ($500); Jacqueline St. Clair, Haines Animal Rescue Kennel Anderson-Barnes Memorial Scholarship ($500); Nicole Stickler, American Legion Scholarship ($500); Anna Szymanski, Haines Volunteer Fire Dept. ($500); Hannah Wing, PLU Access Grant ($1,000 per year), PLU Provost Merit Award ($18,000 per year), PLU Q Club Scholarship ($7,030 per year), Haines Volunteer Fire Dept. ($500), American Legion Auxiliary Scholarship ($500), Haines Emblem Club ($750), Raymond R. Menaker Writing Award ($1,000), Juneau Lions Club ($500), Haines School Staff/HEA ($725).