Nenana School fundraising to bring parents to granduation

The staff at Nenana School is trying to bring parents of high school seniors to Nenana for next weekend's graduation ceremony. Photo courtesy Eric Filardi

Graduating high school seniors who live in the Nenana Student Living Center often face graduation ceremonies without their families there to support them.

The staff at Nenana High School is trying to help change that this year with a GoFundMe account to bring a parent or two to Nenana from students’ home villages. Graduation day is Sunday.

“It’s the biggest emotional sacrifice our students make to attend the Nenana Student Living Center,” teacher Eric Filardi said. “I’ve noticed the struggle that many of our students have to bring their closest anchors to events at the school.”

About 80 students from all over the state live at the center during the school year. They live in a boarding facility, in dormitory-style rooms, and are provided with round-the-clock adult supervision. For many of these students, this is their first real exposure to the world outside their home villages.

“Their parents, who know their children will receive a challenging, rewarding, enriching and relevant 21st century education in a safe and positive environment, often make large sacrifices to send their children here,” Filardi states on the GoFundMe page. “A great deal of the students who come to Nenana often arrive without goals and unsure of their future. However, these same students usually graduate four years later confident of their career choices and prepared for the post-graduate training required to make them successful.”

The high cost of in-state air travel makes it hard for these rural families to travel to Nenana for their children’s graduation. In this particular case, the staff is trying to help a couple students from coastal communities where flights are few. The goal? $1,050; to date, $715 has been donated.

“We believe in the power of family engagement and the importance of family-school partnerships to help every child continue to succeed academically and reach his or her full potential,” Filardi said.

When parents are involved, it makes a difference for children, schools and communities, he added.

Donations can be made at

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at Call her at the office 459-7546. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.

Community editor and columnist Kris Capps is a longtime resident of Fairbanks and Denali Park. Contact her at, in the office at 459-7546 or by cell at 322-6334. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.