Salvation Army participates in Kake drive-in baccalaureate service

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Alaska village celebrates its high school graduates.

The Kake, Alaska, community celebrated its high school graduates with a drive-in baccalaureate service May 8 on the lawn between the Presbyterian church and the beach. A spectacular sunset highlighted the graduates and their families. 

Kake traditionally holds the baccalaureate service each year at one of the community’s three churches: The Salvation Army Kake Corps, Kake Memorial Presbyterian Church and Kake Assembly of God. This service is separate from the school’s graduation ceremony. The Kake Corps hosted it in 2019; this year the Presbyterian Church had its turn.

band playing on porch outside

The village celebrated six graduates—Jade Beer, Willow Jackson, Courtney James, Bryce Knudsen, Charity Moler and Drew Jackson. Five graduated from Kake High School and one from a boarding school that was closed because of the virus.

Kake Corps Officer Lt. Catherine Dooley spoke at the service. “In my remarks, I pointed out that while this was definitely not what any of them were expecting, it was absolutely unforgettable.”

bottle of hand sanitizer

Participants observed social distancing and other protective measures, and no refreshments were served. Despite the unusual circumstances, people were grateful. Parent Debbie Johnson-James posted on Facebook after the ceremony: “There will always be obstacles in our paths; just depends on how you approach and conquer it. [This] was a great outdoor baccalaureate. Thank you to the pastors and all who did the set up and made this happen.”

Leading the ceremony along with Dooley were Pastor Joey Chang (Presbyterian church), Pastor Jeff Vantrease (Assembly of God), Principal Rich Catahay, keyboardist Dorothy Brown and camera person Heea Chang.

cars parked in front of body of water

As a graduation gift, the Kake Corps gave each student an “Adulting Survival Kit” with, among other things, Hershey’s Kisses to remind them they are loved, a Payday candy bar to remind them hard work pays off, and a small scroll of Scripture to remind them to always look to God’s Word. 

“It is a privilege to serve in this community,” Dooley said.

Located 100 miles south of Juneau on the northwest coast of Kupreanof Island, the village of Kake has about 500 residents; nearly 70 percent of them are of Tlingit heritage.

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