Eight seniors graduated from Lumen Christi High School in Anchorage last month. The Catholic Anchor asked the graduates to share their stories and memories, and reflect on the value of Catholic education.
Matthew Goodwin has lived in Alaska his entire life and has attended Lumen Christi for the past five years. His favorite pastime is building tabletop miniatures. He was also involved in student government in high school, and played on the school’s soccer team. His favorite class while at Lumen Christi was bioethics.
“It taught me time management and dedication,” he said.
Goodwin appreciated the opportunity of attending a school with a welcoming Catholic atmosphere.
“I can freely practice my faith without the weird stares,” he said. “I pray on a regular basis now and have understood that my life is not for myself, but for others.” Goodwin plans to attend college at the University of Alaska Anchorage and graduate with a degree in civil engineering.
Kaare Helgesen, a lifelong Alaskan, has attended Lumen Christi for six years. Prior to that he attended St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School during his elementary years. During his time at Lumen, he participated in drama, student government, and Big A Little A. He also enjoyed debate, drama, chess and writing. His favorite class was forensics.
“Forensics is an incredibly rewarding class even for those who don’t plan on going into that field,” Helgesen said. “It teaches teamwork and critical thinking.”
Helgesen plans to attend the University of Alaska Anchorage to study for a degree in biochemistry. Ultimately he hopes to attend medical school.
He leaves Lumen Christi with a deep appreciation for Catholic education.
“Learning about the struggles of the saints and their sacrifices was enlightening and grounding,” he said. “The superior education available at a Catholic school is impressive and worth every penny spent.”
Hagen Lirette is from Louisiana and has attended Lumen Christi since his family moved to Alaska four years ago. He enjoys riding BMX, playing video games, watching movies and photography. His favorite class was forensic science.
“I love science and the labs and mock crime scenes were very fun,” Lirette said. “I plan on attending the University of Alaska Anchorage for the upcoming fall semester, and then transferring to Nicholls State University for the spring semester. I plan on attaining a degree in biochemistry and a doctorate degree in pharmacy.”
Lirette loved his experience with Lumen because of his teachers.
“All the teachers genuinely want the best for their students and they do everything they can to make sure their students succeed,” he said.
When asked why others should consider attending a Catholic high school, Lirette said, “It will be harder and more challenging than public school, but it is far more rewarding and in the end it will prepare you for college and life much better.”
Mark Loeffler has attended Lumen Christi since he moved to Alaska three years ago.
“I love to hike with my dog, Bella,” he said. “I also like to write stories, poems and short tidbits on my blog.”
Loeffler enjoyed participating in athletics during his time at Lumen Christi.
“I played basketball and soccer for the first time and went from having no clue to starting lineup because my coaches were great,” he said.
His favorite class was U.S. government.
“I loved government because Mr. Palumbo was funny and got us really thinking about government, law, justice, morality and politics.”
Loeffler also appreciated his opportunity to learn more about his faith through Catholic schooling.
“It challenged my faith by deepening my understanding of it,” he said. “I’d recommend Lumen Christi for the community and acceptance.”
In the fall, Loeffler will be attending the University of Alaska Anchorage and looks forward to working with children with special needs.
Falon Methonen was born and raised in Alaska, and has attended Lumen Christi for six years after attending Holy Rosary Academy for elementary school. Methonen enjoys watching sports, makeup, reading, acting, cooking and watching Netflix. During her high school years, she participated in several extracurricular activities.
“I have participated in volleyball for two years, soccer and basketball manager for one year, drama production for six years and student government for four years,” she said.
Like many others, her favorite class was forensic science.
“The most rewarding subject for me was nonfiction writing, because of the 25-page paper we had to write,” she said.
Lumen Christi also played a critical role in Methonen’s faith journey.
“I originally was Episcopalian, and Lumen and the dedication to our faith helped me convert,” she said. “I became officially Catholic two months ago at the Easter Vigil Mass.”
She said she will miss her Lumen ties.
“I cried the most during graduation season,” she said. “I appreciated the ability for all of us to come together and become a family.”
Methonen plans to attend the University of Alaska Anchorage in the fall and major in journalism and communications.
Maeve Bakic has attended Lumen Christi since completing her elementary education at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School in south Anchorage. A lifelong Alaskan, Bakic was very active in the athletics programs offered through Lumen Christi.
“I played all the sports offered at Lumen while I was there, except track in 10-12th grade,” she said.
When she wasn’t participating in athletics, Bakic enjoyed creative projects, spending time with her family, and playing games with them. Her favorite class in high school was math.
“I really enjoy the problem solving it requires and I have always loved the subject since I was a kid,” she said. “I’m also pretty good at it, hence the reason I’m going to college for engineering.”
Bakic will be attending Boise State University in the fall of 2018.
She said she values the years she spent in Catholic schooling.
“It helps get a full and deep understanding about why your faith is so important,” she said. “Catholic school has provided me with information and opportunities concerning my faith that I never would have been able to experience had I gone to a different school.”
Thang Long Tomy Tran
Tomy Tran, originally from Vietnam, grew up in Singapore before his family moved to Alaska two years ago.
“My viewpoints in things are unique,” he said. “I take a different approach to situations.”
Tran’s favorite classes were U.S. government and bioethics.
“In U.S. government I am able to learn a different side of economics from my awesome teacher, Mr. Palumbo,” he said. “And in bioethics we learned about the ethics in medicine. It definitely changed my point of view.”
Tran enjoys working out and participated in both basketball and track through Lumen Christi. Although Tran is Buddhist, he says Lumen Christi made a positive impact on his life.
“Lumen allowed me to have a good time studying and gaining a lot of knowledge,” he said. “It is a private school so they are allowed to share their religions freely. Teachers here actually care for you and will help you to get ready for college.”
Tran plans to study chemical engineering in college.
“I’ll hopefully be involved in the AI (artificial intelligence) or biowaste industries,” he said.
Walter Bugden attended Lumen Christi his final two years of high school. He came to Alaska from Canada as part of the school’s international student program.
“Walter was a solid student across the board, but particularly liked math and science,” said Lumen Christi Principal Brian Ross. “Walter was a great addition to our student body and to our graduating class. His unique perspectives as an international student added to class discussions and to the culture and environment of our school as a whole.”
Bugden played coed varsity soccer and participated in student government. During his senior year, he was also able to take engineering classes at King Career Center in addition to his coursework at Lumen. He plans to attend the University of Alaska Anchorage in the fall.