Orion Caposey leads the final walk of the Skagway High School Class of 2001 past beaming family and friends.

Large class ... simple lessons

"This is not the end, this is not the beginning of the end, it is however the end of the beginning."

- SHS Class of 2001 motto

The 13 members of the Skagway High Class of 2001– one of the biggest graduating classes of the past two decades – looked back on their school years with a lot of laughter, tears and gratitude during commencement ceremonies on May 18.
“It’s surreal ... it seems like just last week that Blake, Tyler and I were building a fort behind the liquor store,” said senior Thomas Cochran in his welcome to the audience of about 400.
He then thanked the community for doing such a good job of raising kids in an environment that has escaped the violence that has penetrated schools from Columbine to Bethel. “We are blessed with those things that make us different from those places.”
Salutatorian Matt Taylor said he had made friends for life and thanked everyone who helped guide him, from teachers and parents, to spiritual leaders like Sister Judy, and his friends at the Fire Department. “We hope to continue to make you proud of us,” Taylor said.
Co-Valedictorian Kristina Knorr echoed Taylor’s message: “So many times friends and family members are not given the gratitude,” Knorr said.
“How many times did we say ‘right?’, ‘whatever’, or ‘I’ll do that’ and then not do it?” Knorr said. “The rules are there ... because they don’t want to see you hurt.”
She then ribbed her classmates, not letting anyone escape. A couple memorable ones: Blake Perry setting himself on fire in shop class and having to strip quickly as the girls turned their heads, and Mitchell Snyder talking his way out of a ticket for going 70 mph. And Knorr’s contribution: “trying to kill all my classmates by mixing the wrong chemicals together.”
Rebecca Telles, the other Co-Valedictorian, offered four enduring goals for her classmates and others to strive for: 1) find your God-given destiny while young; 2) learn that the greatest struggle is with yourself; 3) love others by giving of yourself; and 4) use your talents.
She said the Class of 2001 is filled with talent. “If you use those talents, then life will truly matter,” she said.
Like her father, Superintendent James Telles, she also thanked friends and family, especially those who had traveled far to witness their class’s special day.
Raymond Hosford introduced graduation speaker JoAnn Trozzo by talking about the 20-year teacher’s dedication to students and her sense of humor. What other teacher would tolerate signs like “You’re older than dirt” from students on her birthday, he said.
Trozzo, who taught the graduating class during sixth, seventh and eight grades, said she looks for inspiration from the late Bishop Michael Kenney.
She looked back on the changes in the world over the past 18 years – from the Worldwide Web to disposable contact lenses – and said the students were in for an even bigger ride over the next 18 years.
“There’s no way to tell what it will be like,” she said. “Is anything in your hands? Yes, the kind of person you will become.”
She said the Class of 2001 has the qualities that matter: Hosford and Taylor were missionaries one summer in Mexico and learned to accept people for themselves; Cochran’s special moment came during the State Tournament and seeing his dad in the crowd when he wasn’t expected to be there; John Fredricks never refused anyone help and was the technical genius behind every drama production over the last four years; athletes Knorr and Snyder learned on sports trips that “you can do it all”; J.R. Edwards didn’t care if he played at State, he just enjoyed being there; Perry’s “sense of humor saved many a day” and filled a box of stuff for teachers that will never be forgotten; Orion Caposey is “quite certain of his abilities” as a graphic artist; Chelsea Hulk is meticulous and reliable through the day; Adria Neitzer, a “go-getter,” expresses herself through Web design; Crystal Harris worked with kids in the elementary and will become a teacher, and Telles overcame her shyness with a beautiful singing voice that shined under the direction of drama teacher Blaine Mero.
Trozzo also didn’t leave out the eighth graders, whom she has taught the past two years, even though they all apparently have changed their names to “dude,” she said.
Savannah Ames, Cory Belisle, Jake Holton, Max Jewell, Crystal Ketterman, Jeremy Kilburn, John McCluskey, Kyle Mulvihill, and Jason O’Daniel now enter high school.
“These two groups of students are special for various reasons,” she said, and then asked all to, rather than measure people, simply see each person for himself or herself.
“Be a man or woman of simple and clear vision,” she said in closing. “Never stop looking deep within yourself... I hope in 40 years you can look in the mirror at yourself and smile.”
After receiving his diploma from his mother, departing School Board President Michelle Carlson, J.R. Edwards closed with a reading of the class motto, and then mused, “Reality has caught up with us.”
It was then sound man Fredricks’ final turn at the controls. He cued the recessional, “The World As I Know” by Collective Soul, but forgot about the eighth graders going first. After stopping the song and letting the Class of 2005 leave to music from the band, he cued the song again.
“This time it’s for real,” Fredricks said into the mike. “Thanks for the direction, you guys.”

Left, John Fredricks completes his final sound check; right, Jo Trozzo tells graduates to be themselves in a changing world. Below left, the Class of 2005 reacts to tales by Trozzo of their goofball exploits in middle school, and below right, a shot of teacher Jeff Kasler's lawn business truck, now painted psychedelic colors and autographed by the members of the SHS Class of 2001. Photos by Jeff Brady

SHS Awards

A night of memories: Knorr, Snyder, Telles, Belisle win top school awards

The strongest message at this year’s Skagway School Awards Night, other than keeping speeches short, was earning respect. From featured speaker John L. “O’D” O’Daniel to the naming of a new award in memory of George Thiel, speakers talked about how students learn by giving back to their school and community.
Local resident O’Daniel, who joked about being the “budget cutting speaker,” urged kids to “take advantage of every opportunity the community has to offer.... especially if it scares you.”
He said his fear of public speaking was overcome after taking a broadcast class at Skagway High School. Other school experiences prepared him for being a better student athlete, and, after returning to Skagway, becoming active in youth programs and in the Elks. He became the youngest exalted ruler in the state, and Exalted Ruler of the Year in Alaska, which required some public speaking.
Activities director Jeff Kasler said O’Daniel had given back to Skagway much more than anyone could expect.
O’Daniel said people in Skagway are always contributing to the school, and that it was his time to say “thank you” and extend an offer to help those coming up. “I’ll be watching you all, cheering for you, and if there’s anything I can do, let me know,” he said.
Later in the program, retired elementary teacher and wrestling coach Tim McDonald talked about the late George Thiel, who died unexpectedly from heart failure last fall in Fairbanks.
Thiel earned his first trip to the State Wrestling Meet in just his freshman year, and McDonald drove him to Anchorage. It was a long trip, and Thiel had to keep his weight down, so McDonald made him jog along sections of the Alaska Highway, often driving ahead of Thiel for a half mile at a time.
On the drive back to Skagway, when McDonald had to make a pit stop, Thiel took the wheel and drove ahead a half mile, and then another half mile. “Every time I got close, the car took off, and that was the start of our four years together,” McDonald said.
He thanked school board member Don Hather, who suggested the award, and others in the community.
“Thank you for what you’ve done for him,” McDonald said, adding that years from now, when people who never knew Thiel are giving out the award, “you’ll know that he’s there because the community of Skagway felt an awful lot for him.”
The first George Thiel Memorial Award was then presented to Kristina Knorr, a senior with a 4.04 average who excelled as an all-conference volleyball and basketball player. Kasler noted that throughout the region, Knorr was greatly respected for being a great kid.
Kasler also added that the Skagway Teachers Organization was renaming its scholarship in memory of David Michael Fredricks, an outstanding student and classmate of Thiel’s, who died in an accident two years ago.
Knorr also was named the best female athlete and co-student of the year with Rebecca Telles. A junior who is graduating a year early, Telles also won the Victor Marshall Award for best cumulative high school grade point average (4.04). She also was active in drama and music.
Mitchell Snyder, one of the state’s best basketball players, was honored as the male athlete of the year. Both Kasler and basketball coach Lee Hartson said it was unfortunate Snyder didn’t receive more state honors. Snyder led a Panther comeback at Regionals against Angoon that fell one point short of a trip to State, and greater media exposure.
Ninth grader Rory Belisle was given the Principal’s Award, traditionally awarded to the student who has shown the greatest effort and improvement in school.

Top, Students of the year Rebecca Telles (l) and Kristina Knorr receive their awards from Superintendent James Telles. Bottom left, featured speaker John L. O'Daniel presents the Male atl=helete of the Year award to basketball star Mitchell Snyder, and bottom right, Activities Director Jeff Kasler and Board Vice President Don Hather listen as Tim McDonald talks about the late George Thiel. Photos by Jeff Brady

Here’s an almost-complete breakdown of all middle and high school awards:
Attendance (3 or less absences): Jordan Kasler, Crystal Ketterman, Aaron Kilburn, Thomas Knorr, Jerod Moore, Ray Hosford, Mitchell Snyder. No perfect attendance award this year.
Honor Roll (3.0-plus g.p.a. for first three quarters): Trevor Cochran, Scott Lesh, Audrey Neitzer, Savannah Ames, Cory Belisle, Max Jewell, Jeremy Kilburn, Crystal Ketterman, Henry Burnham, Leah Thomas, Garrett Henry, Thomas Knorr, Kortney Greiser, Lucas Heger, Crystal Ackerman, Tyson Ames, Kristin Brown, Stan Bush, Clayton Harris, Ashley Law, Orion Caposey, J.R. Edwards, Mitchell Snyder, Matt Taylor, John Fredricks, Crystal Harris, Kristina Knorr, Ray Hosford.
Superintendent’s Honor Roll (3.75-plus g.p.a. for first three quarters): Jordan Kasler, Madeleine Nyhagen, John McCluskey, Jason O’Daniel, Russell Bush, Arlen McCluskey, Jerod Moore, Aaron Neitzer, Rebecca Telles.
Drama: Jerod Moore, John Fredricks, Rebecca Telles, Jason O’Daniel.
Music: Jerod Moore.
English: Leah Thomas, Thomas Knorr, Miranda Collecchi, Tyler Cochran, Crystal Ackerman, Clayton Harris, Chelsea Hulk, Blake Perry.
Student Government: J.R. Edwards, Kristina Knorr, Mitchell Snyder, Russell Bush, Lucas Heger, Matt Taylor, Kristin Brown, Ashley Law, Garrett Henry.
Art: Tyson Ames, Danielle Arnold, Clayton Harris, Thomas Cochran, Chelsea Hulk.
Vocational Education: entire auto shop class.
Math: Jerod Moore, John McCluskey, Arlen McCluskey, Kristina Knorr, Stan Bush, Garrett Henry, Rory Belisle.
Spanish: Lucas Heger.
Science/Hatchery: Improvement - Crystal Ackerman, Rory Belisle, Tyler Cochran, James Moseley, Adria Neitzer; Achievement - Rebecca Telles, Jerod Moore, Kristina Knorr, Kyle Ellis, Russell Bush.
Social Studies: Rebecca Telles.
Accounting: J.R. Edwards, Kristina Knorr, Matt Taylor.
Technology: Arlen McClusky, animation; Orion Caposey, graphic arts; Aaron Neitzer, web design; Chris Shockley and J.R. Edwards, rebuilding school website.
Culinary: Bethany Hisman, Orion Caposey, Luke Thomas, Leah Thomas, Ashley Law, Kristin Brown, Coleen Ketterman, Thomas Knorr, Chris Shockley.
Junior High Basketball: all members of boys and girls teams awarded certificates.
Cross-Country: Outstanding- Leah Thomas and Russell Bush (others received letters).
Volleyball: Most Inspirational- Leah Thomas; Improved- Kristin Brown; Outstanding- captain Kristina Knorr (others received letters).
Wrestling: Most Improved- Kyle Ellis; Inspirational- Clayton Harris; Outstanding- Chris Shockley.
Girls Basketball: Most Improved- Leah Thomas; Inspirational- co-captain Ashley Law; Outstanding- captain Kristina Knorr (others received letters).
Boys Basketball: Most Improved- Kyle Ellis; Inspirational- Matt Taylor; Outstanding- captain Mitchell Snyder; Co-captains Ray Hosford and Thomas Cochran (others received letters).
Female Athlete of the Year: Kristina Knorr.
Male Athlete of the Year: Mitchell Snyder.
George Thiel Memorial Award: Kristina Knorr.
Principal’s Award: Rory Belisle.
Victor Marshall Award: Rebecca Telles.
Student of the Year: (tie) Kristina Knorr and Rebecca Telles.