CASMAN Academy graduates nine at Ramsdell Theatre

MANISTEE — A celebratory spirit filled the Ramsdell Theatre on Thursday evening when nine CASMAN Academy students were presented their diplomas during commencement exercises.

The class of 2019 at CASMAN Academy move over their tassels after graduation while the big crowd at the Ramsdell Theatre give them a standing ovation.

Students marched in to the sounds of St. Anthony Chorale and once they were all seated CASMAN Academy director Shelly VanVoorst greeted everyone.

“One of the nice things about CASMAN is that we are small enough, that we create a family of sorts within our school,” said VanVoorst. “We are an alternative school, which means we not only accept everyone for who they are, we encourage them to work at finding out who they want to be.”

Keynote speaker for the evening was CASMAN teacher Kimberly Evans who has been a part of the staff for the past six years. She students like the graduates make her job a worthwhile experience every day.

“I am always amazed at our students’ strength, passion and attitudes,” said Evans. “Day after day these young women and men have worked hard, perservered, struggled and overcome to reaching this point today. I cannot express how lucky I feel to be able to call this school my home.”

Evans also detailed a special memory about all nine of the graduates and the mark they made on her and on everyone who is a part of CASMAN Academy.

Following her speech, the students took part in the always emotional flower ceremony. VanVoorst explained prior to it taking place why it is such a special part of CASMAN graduation ceremonies.

“Each of the graduates has flowers to hand out to individually recognize those who have helped them or supported them throughout their high school career,” said VanVoorst. “This is quite simply a time that the graduates get to honor those who have special meaning in their hearts.”

CASMAN Academy graduate Hunter Ross is presented his diploma by board of education president Steve Parsons and CASMAN director Shelly VanVoorst (left) and members of the staff and faculty look on.

Student Celia Star Chief, who was the top student in this year’s graduating class, served as one of the two student commencement speakers. She praised the CASMAN staff for all that they have done over the past several years to help them reach this point.

“I would first like to say thank you to the teachers and staff of CASMAN,” said Star Chief. “Without your endless support and dedication we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

Her speech ended with some prophetic advice and a challenged them to go out and be successful.

“Ghandi once said, ‘You must be the change you wish to see in the world,'” said Star Chief. “My fellow graduates, we must make our choices and make them wisely, for who all knows when we will change the world. All I have left to say is: World here we come.”

Student Hunter Jarvis praised the family-like atmosphere at CASMAN.

“Every student at CASMAN has a place and a home here at the school,” said Jarvis. “Because of the staff we feel less like this has been a school and more like this is a family. No matter what we need they have found it, or figured out a way to help us.”

Jarvis added that they are prepared to go out and enjoy success.

“I am excited to see what roads in the future each of you choose to take,” he said. “We are starting out on our own paths now, starting our own stories. Remember that whichever path or road you choose in life you have the skills to rock it.”

Diplomas were presented by CASMAN Board of Education president Steve Parsons with assistance from VanVoorst and administrative assistant Cindy Turk.

Those receiving diplomas include Destiny Marie Colby, Hannah Rachel Margaret Dean, Thomas Deloach, Glenn Fraly, Jarvis, Star Chief, Eric Moser, Xavier Northrup and Hunter Ross.

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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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