ONE FEATHER STAFF REPORT
Winston Welch, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, is set to graduate from McGrath School in McGrath, Alaska this spring. “We are the Arctic Knights,” he said. “There are 37 students in my school, and I am the only high school senior. I am the graduating class of 2020!”
Following graduation, Welch plans to attain his culinary certificate at Southwestern Community College or AVTEC in Seward, Alaska. He is also interested in trade school to become a barber or an auto mechanic.
Being so small, his school doesn’t have team sports. “I had other opportunities though such as participating in a three-month summer apprenticeship building a house in 2018. My school gives time off every September for subsistence hunting. My first moose fed us for over a year. In shop, I really enjoyed helping teach kids how to build birdhouses and doghouses every year. I got to ride my snow machine on the Iron Dog/Iditarod Trail to the neighboring village of Takotna in 2019, my junior year, helping with a new dog-mushing program. There were leadership trips and camps every year that broadened my horizons and showed me there are a lot of possibilities in life.”
Welch also noted, “I want to thank my parents, sister, teachers, aunts, uncles, and cousins who motivated me to finish school and plan for my future. My mom and dad were hard on me sometimes, but they always support me if I try. My teachers, especially Casey McCarthy and Ms. B, had high expectations for me and that pushed me to do better in school. My principal, Matt Shelborne, knew when to be a teacher and knew when to be a friend.”
When asked his thoughts on graduation, Welch noted, “I always knew I would graduate high school, but I could not imagine what the feeling would be like. I am the McGrath School Class of 2020, and it feels amazing. It feels good to be done. There is one word for the next stage of my life: wanderlust! I want to get a boat and travel the world.”
He is from the Big Cove Community and is the son of Sarah McClellan-Welch and Kevin Welch, and he is the grandson of Tom and Marion McClellan of Lexington, Ky. and Geraldine and John Powell Welch of Big Cove.