Mount Sentinel valedictorian Kyle Chernenkoff had a speech prepared for his grad ceremony, which was postponed last week following threats allegedly uttered by a classmate, but he’s still determined to eventually deliver it to the class of 2016.
“We’re not going to let this incident ruin everything,” he told the Star. “I wrote that speech and I’m eventually going to read it. When that will be, though, I’m not sure.”
What does he want to say?
“Basically my message is that Mount Sentinel has taken us in and made us feel at home. I was welcome there from Day 1 right to the last exam. I’ve been fortunate enough to have the same group of friends since kindergarten, which was really special for me.”
He believes the relationships he created at the school would be difficult to create in a larger facility and the Mount Sentinel staff go above and beyond in creating personal relationships with the students.
“I think being in a rural area is special, because it’s small and you know the vast majority of the students throughout all the grades, and for that I’m grateful. I pretty much know everybody.”
When news of the threat reached them, many of the 58 grads turned to him to find out what was going on. Only hours earlier they had completed a practice run of the ceremonies to come. Now they were being evacuated.
“I was obviously quite shocked. It was scary at first, before we had everything sorted out. No matter where anyone is in the world, this is something you don’t want to face.”
But he thinks the administration made the right choice.
“This is the best scenario in the worst situation for us. We could’ve been mourning for the rest of our lives, but a weekend of ceremonies can be made up.”
Despite the cancellation, Chernenkoff hosted a makeshift party on his grandmother’s driveway, complete with mother-son and father-daughter dances.
Chernenkoff kicked off the festivities by calling up his date, Steph Kobald.C
“I said ‘you bought the dress, I bought the suit, and I feel like wearing it.’”
Though grads were warned not to congregate this weekend, he felt the small gathering was an appropriate way to celebrate with out-of-town family.
“It didn’t happen the way it normally does, but this was still a really special weekend.”
Mount Sentinel’s Raya Mikkelson is the co-valedictorian of the 2016 class.