The ‘path awaits’ Lakers class of 2019

BEAR LAKE — In proud communities like Bear Lake, long-standing traditions play an important role.

Alyssa Eisenlohr and Kyle Fink bang the senior drum at Bear Lake’s commencement on Friday.

One such tradition at Bear Lake Schools graduations is the honor that falls upon two graduates every year at the annual commencement exercises. They are given the task of beating the senior drum once for every student that is graduating that year.

The tradition dates back decades and this year the honor went to Kyle Fink and Alyssa Eisenlohr who proudly sounded out one hit on the drum for every graduate. The annual tradition brought out a big roar from the large crowd at Bear Lake Schools on Friday evening which watched 35 graduates receive their diplomas.

Principal Sarah Harless greeted those in attendance at the 112th annual Bear Lake commencement exercises that were first held in 1906. Harless said another one of those traditions is roots run deep among this class and their families with their connection to Bear Lake Schools.

“This year we have three fifth generation graduates, seven fourth generation graduates, five third generation graduates and several second generation graduates,” said  Harless.

The salutatorian of the class of 2019 is Olivia Hejl, who is the daughter of Julie Johnson and Greg Hejl. She delivered her salutatorian address on what she learned about life in the recent senior trip to Washington D.C. and New York City.

“I found out that life is a lot like a subway ride,” said Hejl. “I know what you might all be thinking, how in the world does a subway ride relate to life?  Well hold on because we are going for a wild ride.”

Hejl said getting to the station sometimes you can hop right on board, like knowing exactly what you want to do in life or getting into your dream school.

“Some of us have always had that burning passion of knowing what they want to do, where others have struggled to find that niche,” said Hejl.

She said other times people take the wrong train, like in life when graduates struggle to find the right path in life. Other times she said the wait is long for the right train, but in the end it gets you to the place you want to go.

“Throughout your life, you will go through all these times,” said Hejl. “You will have highs and lows, we must remember to stay humble when the train is there for us and remain patient when it is not.”

Following her to the microphone was valedictorian Abigail Cross who is the daughter of William “Chip” and Amy Cross, of Bear Lake.

Cross told her classmates that when she was younger she felt that all the things they are experiencing with graduation were a long way off even though her parents kept telling her that wasn’t the case.

“Now that I am standing in front of you today I realize how wrong I was,” said Cross. “My parents would always warn me and tell me how quickly time flies. Now I definitely believe them.”

Cross likened high school to learning how to ride a bike going from being a freshmen on training wheels to a big boy bike as a sophomore and then on to a dirt bike as a junior.

“The senior year is like riding a motorcycle because you are on your way,” said Cross. “Motorcycles are like vehicles in they can take you anywhere and down any path. So class of 2019, grip your handle bars and get ready because your path awaits.”

Other students graduating with honors were Jonathan Adams, Zachary Belinsky, Alyssa Eisenlohr, John Evans, Kyle Fink, Trey Gilbert, Kevin Groll, Jonah Hengy, Curtis Kennedy, Luca Leffew, Hayley May, Reagan Merrill, Cadence Miller, Gabrielle Pargeon, Eva Raspotnik, Julie Schmidt and Kennadey Smith.

Bear Lake science teacher John Prokes delivered the commencement address to the class of 2019.

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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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