Onekama graduates 32 in Sunday commencement exercises

The Onekama High School class of 2013 proudly stand as a unit for the start of commencement exercises. Thirty-two graduates were presented diplomas at the ceremony.

ONEKAMA — Thirty-two members of the Onekama High School class of 2013 took the next step in their lives on Sunday afternoon by being presented diplomas during commencement exercises.

The class motto of “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were big things” set the tone for the day’s activities. It was a day of fondly looking back at the memories of the past 13 years and looking forward to the future with great anticipation.

Superintendent Kevin Hughes welcomed everyone to the 114th commencement exercises at the school. He said over the years they have watched them grow into young adults and he offered them some parting advice.

“We have watched most of you since kindergarten,” said Hughes. “My advice to you do your best every day. Everyone has special talents that we are given, so lets use them to their fullest. Seek advice from you parents, grandparents and others. Their life experiences can help you in tough times, so lean on those people.”

He then introduced this year’s salutatorians Kaylan Fitch and Kelly Koon to deliver their addresses. Both students finished their high school careers with a 3.97 grade point average.

Fitch is the daughter of Blake Fitch and Amy Fitch and she will be attending Alma College in the fall. She talked about the valuable lessons she learned during her time at Onekama Schools and from her parents.

“My parents taught me how to agree to disagree and make compromises,” said Fitch. “The biggest thing I learned from my mom is to be friends with everyone. Even the strangest people are awesome to be around. My dad taught me to learn from mistakes and build character from all my experiences. I’d like to thank them both for being there for me every step of the way. Through all the obstacles, their support has been truly inspiring.”

Koon is the daughter of Tom and Sally Koon and plans to continue her education at Saginaw Valley University. She thanked the many who helped her make it to this level, but pointed out to her classmates that the time has come for them to emerge as adults.

“Parents, family friends, teachers; all of you have helped us to graduation,” she said. “You’re the ones that made sure we get up on time, did our homework and understood lessons in life. It’s our parents and family that taught us right from wrong, our friends that we can relate to and compete with, and our teachers that gave us this education. Without all of you, we couldn’t have come this far and be here today. I’m so thankful for this experience, but now it is our time.”

This year Onekama had three valedictorians in Claire Harvey, Elizabeth Bergren and Emily Barnard. All three had a perfect 4.0 GPAs.

Harvey will be attending the Interlochen Arts Academy in the fall and is the daughter of Kurt and Kristine Harvey. She talked about reaching the next level with honesty and integrity.

“It doesn’t matter where we will be in 20 years, it matters where we will go next,” said Harvey. “As long as each one of us can reach that next point, and do so with honesty, integrity and respect for the people around us, we will end up exactly where we’re supposed to be. I think all of you are people of honesty and integrity, and I know that each one of us can succeed. Now we may go away to build lives of our own in other places, but no matter what, we will always remember Onekama and be able to call this beautiful place home.”

Fellow valedictorian Bergren is the daughter of Ed and Mary Bergren and she has plans to attend the University of Michigan in the fall.

She told her classmates that they can now embark on the next chapter of their lives with a clean slate.

“Someone recently told me that endings are the worst, but if you have an ending with a new beginning that is one of the greatest things in the world,” said Bergren. “Today is one of those great things. High school is over now and honestly who we were in high school doesn’t matter. For the first times in our lives we are getting the chance of having a clean slate. Life after this doesn’t have to be dependent on who you were in high school. No one will be held to the same expectations, good or bad, that they had in high school. For the first time in our lives our life is truly in our own hands.”

Barnard is the daughter of James and Susan Barnard and will be gong to the University of Chicago in the fall.

During her valedictory address she touched on how the class motto was only fitting.

“I thought this was relevant to us as we go through this transition to adulthood,” she said. “Though it feels like we have been climbing for a while, we have to keep going if we want to see what the world really has to offer. We have to continue to learn and grow, using the foundation Onekama has given us.”

Prior to being presented with their diplomas the students were also treated to a slideshow of class memories that was put together by Emily Barnard and Jessa Gauthier.

 

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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