Onekama’s Class of 2018 ‘will always have memories’

ONEKAMA — Members of Onekama High School’s Class of 2018 sat on the floor of the gymnasium under dim lights, laughing together for the last time during their commencement ceremony on Sunday.

The senior slideshow created by fellow classmate and one of the class valedictorians, Carlee Pepera. It featured photos of class members from infancy up to graduation set to music, including the class song “Follow Me” by Uncle Kracker.

It was apparent from the photos, the laughter and expressions as the students watched that they are more than just classmates. They are family, which was also a theme among the speeches of the four valedictorians and the salutatorian.

“Together as a class, we have grown immensely over the countless years,” said salutatorian McKenzie Bradford. “We have had our ups and downs, but one thing still remains the same. We will always have memories that we shared with one another.”

Valedictorian Emilee McPherson said Onekama schools has been her second home since preschool.

Members of the Class of 2018 at Onekama High School walk into the gym on Sunday for their graduation ceremony to the sound of "Pomp and Circumstance," played by the middle/senior high school bands. (Michelle Graves/News Advocate)

Members of the Class of 2018 at Onekama High School walk into the gym on Sunday for their graduation ceremony to the sound of “Pomp and Circumstance,” played by the middle/senior high school bands. (Michelle Graves/News Advocate)

“We’ve grown up together, and we’ve grown together. We’ve also went through many first and even lasts together,” she said. “But now is our time to move forward, and we can’t do that without saying goodbye first.”

Pepera said she also has attended Onekama schools since preschool.

“Our class is without a doubt, a family. We have watched each other grow up, celebrated each other’s birthdays in class, bickered with each other just like siblings because we liked the same boy, and even fighting over who gets to use what part of the playground,” she said. “But you know what? I would not have wanted it any other way.”

Appreciation was another theme that was prevalent in the students’ speeches.

“I’ve always thought of today as a day of celebration, but as today was approaching, I realized it was more about praise,” said valedictorian Jayden DeWitt.

He thanked the fans who attended all the students’ athletic events over the years, his fellow classmates and his family.

Valedictorian Jeremiah Torrey offered his appreciation to the community and school staff.

“We appreciate all of the support that has been given to us, and I feel as though you aren’t thanked enough,” he said of the community. “Both academically and with extracurricular activities you want to see us thrive. Knowing this support is behind us is a wonderful thing to have. It makes us stronger. ”

To staff, Torrey said, “You have put up with our shenanigans for four years now, and I know it hasn’t been easy. We appreciate all that you have done for us.”

A student shows off his diploma on Sunday during Onekama High School's graduation ceremony. (Michelle Graves/News Advocate)

A student shows off his diploma on Sunday during Onekama High School’s graduation ceremony. (Michelle Graves/News Advocate)

No commencement ceremony would be complete without advice from administrators and fellow students.

“I want you to do your best every day. Today could be your last. You have special talents use them to the fullest. You don’t know what this entry level job or this job shadow is going to take you. Do your best,” said superintendent Kevin Hughes. “Seek advice … listen what your parents tell you, your grandparents and any significant elder in your life. Their experiences in life can be very helpful in guiding you in your journey.”

Before announcing the class had fulfilled the requirements set forth by the Department of Education, school board treasurer Karl Domres offered a few words of wisdom.

“My advice is simple. Wake up in the morning and do the best you can at whatever it in life. It doesn’t matter if it involves your professional career or simple life skills,” said Domres. “Take pride, take ownership, do it right the first time and just simply do the best you can.”

Principal Gina Hagen presented diplomas to the 27 graduates in Onekama High School’s 119th commencement ceremony. Six students received a certificate of attendance.

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Posted by Michelle Graves

Michelle is the managing editor of the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3106 or mgraves@pioneergroup.com.

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