WSCC, area schools preparing for graduation season

MANISTEE — To many people, the month of May means the arrival of spring flowers, but to educational institutions it is traditionally the time for commencement exercises.

Over the course of the next several weeks graduation ceremonies will be taking place at all the county schools and West Shore Community College. Shown is a photo from last year’s graduation at Manistee High School.

West Shore Community College always leads the way as they will this year with the 49th annual commencement ceremony. Over 175 WSCC students will be eligible to receive diplomas and certificates at 7 p.m. on May 3 in the college’s Recreation Center Arena.

Speakers that evening will be WSCC president Scott Ward, trustees chairmen Bruce Smith, student senate president Ana Figueroa and faculty member Mike Nagle. West Shore Bank vice president Steven Brower will be honored with the alumni achievement award.

Onekama Consolidated Schools will be starting to say their farewell to 36 members of the class of 2019 with Baccalaureate services at 6 p.m. on May 16 at the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Onekama. That will be followed with a 2 p.m. graduation ceremony on May 19 at the school gymnasium.

Onekama principal Gina Hagen said it is always a big step for the students.

“It’s hard to believe the school year is coming to an end,” said Hagen. “What an exciting time for our seniors. It has been great watching them grow and learn over the years. I know they are prepared for the next step in their lives and the new adventures that await them.”

At 6 p.m. on May 23, 10 seniors from CASMAN Academy will be on the stage of the historic Ramsdell Theatre to receive their diplomas.

CASMAN director Shelly VanVoorst said it is always a special night for the graduates.

“The kids are nervous and excited at the same time,” said VanVoorst. “They are nervous that this time of the year is coming and that the next big step is happening. They are excited they have made it through four years of high school, which is a big accomplishment. However, it is nerve wracking at the same time.”

Manistee Catholic Central seniors will begin graduation week at 5 p.m. on May 21 with  Baccalaureate Mass at the Divine Mercy Parish’s St. Joseph Church. An awards ceremony for the seniors will follow at the Blue Fish Kitchen and Bar.

A graduation ceremony for the 12 graduates will be taking place at 7 p.m. on May 24 in the school gymnasium.

The Bear Lake Schools graduates will be marking the Baccalaureate services at 7:30 p.m. on Mary 21 in Bear Lake Methodist Church. Thirty-five graduates will then be presented with diplomas at 7:30 p.m. commencement exercises at the school on May 24 in the school’s lower gymnasium.

Principal Sarah Harless said the senior class is looking forward to those big dates.

“With only 18 days left until the Baccalaureate service and 21 days until graduation, the excitement and anticipation of their last moments as students at Bear Lake Schools is evident,” said Harless. “They are planning for their senior trip, graduation parties and finishing up classes.”

Harless said many of the students are trying to savor the moment.

“It all happens so fast, these final days, and is something they look forward to for so long,” said Harless. “However, when it gets to this moment many of them want to slow it down, so they can take it all in. We are very proud of them and all their accomplishments.”

Brethren High School will be saying farewell to 33 graduates at 6 p.m. on May 24 in commencement exercises at the school gymnasium.

Principal Jakob Veith said the big night is coming up fast for the seniors.

“Seniors are definitely excited and anxious about graduation,” said Veith.  “Invites to their grad parties are going out and they cannot wait until May 17th which is their last day of classes.”

Veith said he has a special attachment to this class.

“This is a special group for me,” said Veith “When they started as freshman, I was starting as principal. They are a great group of young men and women and we will truly miss them.”

Manistee High School always closes out the graduation ceremonies in the county, and they will do so again this year with a 7 p.m. ceremony on May 25 at the school gymnasium for 117 graduates.

Prior to that ceremony there will be a 7 p.m. Baccalaureate ceremony on May 22 at First Congregational Church in Manistee.

Principal Andy Huber said this class is special to him.

“We have 17 students graduating summa cum laude (highest honors) which is the highest number we can remember and eight of them have grade points over 4.0,” said Huber.

However, Huber has come to know many of these students on a personal basis over the years.

“It’s hard for me to not be very sentimental with this year’s group; with my oldest daughter a part of this class,” he said. “I’ve known many of these students since their first days of school. They are an exceptionally high achieving group of students and will be attending an impressive line up of colleges and institutions. And while we’re proud of what they have and will accomplish, the staff will remember them as a group of great young adults.”


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

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