YOKOSUKA (NNS) -- The 2018 graduating class of Nile C. Kinnick High School (KHS) gave a resounding cheer to celebrate, marking an important milestone in their lives at the 71st annual graduation ceremony, June 8.
More than 140 students received their diplomas at the ceremony held at Yokosuka Arts Theater just outside the gate of U.S. Fleet Activities Yokosuka, where their high school is located. The diplomas represent years of hard work and the support of their families who serve overseas.
"Thank you for making countless sacrifices for our family and for giving me the opportunity to live as a military child," said Junajoy Frianeza, the valedictorian for this year's graduating class of Kinnick High School Red Devils. Frianeza, who was born in Yokosuka, graduated with a 4.32 grade point average despite a busy extracurricular schedule. She was involved in National Honor Society, track and field, cross country, class counsel, Navy Junior Reserves Officers Training Corps and Community Service Club.
KHS Principal Dr. Jacquline Ferguson, who presented the class with diplomas, said, "As with most high school students, graduation is the first of many milestones. As a member of a military community overseas, our graduates have a unique perspective on global issues and an advantage in their interactions with other cultures because of their experiences."
Kinnick High School is one of the four Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools at Fleet Activities Yokosuka, the largest U.S. Navy base outside of the United States. Students who attend the school all have a connection to the U.S. military in one way or another.
"Whether they wore a uniform or not, your parents were here in service of country," said Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka Capt. Jeffrey Kim during his keynote speech. "They were here for a noble cause, either in the naval service itself or working in support of the naval service. For many of you this noble cause took your parents away for weeks, even months. Although at times they could not always be here with you, do not doubt that you were on their minds all the time, wherever they were. This I know as a military parent myself."
The graduation ceremony also included performances by the KHS Symphony Orchestra and an international welcome in eight languages including English, American Sign Language, Japanese, Spanish, Tagalog, Chinese, French and German.
Proud parents, teachers, friends and fellow students watched the graduating class walk across the stage and receive their diplomas. Loved ones who were unable to attend the event had the opportunity to view the ceremony through a live stream and witness the occasion.
Capt. Kim encouraged students to pass on their stories from their time in Japan and even one day return with families of their own. He went further on to say, "Remember the service and sacrifice of your parents and the reason for why you are here. Remember the distinctly American narrative of who you went to high school with. And remember this amazing country of Japan and its people and the importance of U.S.-Japan relations. Class of 2018, I ask you to never forget these things. Congratulations again, omedetougozaimasu."
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