EDMORE — Bittersweet and exciting — receiving a high school diploma is a rite of passage. For 37 Montabella High School graduates, this milestone is merely a transition from high school to a future as an adult.
Principal Shane Riley shared details of how things have changed since he was in high school. Stereotypes — preps, jocks, goths, geeks, artists, teacher’s pets or band kids — are left behind.
“I hope you are able to get past your high school labels, good or bad, and spread your wings to make an impact on the world around you,” he said. “Once you leave this school, you are free to create your own identity.”
Riley recently joked with his uncle about this year’s small graduating class. His uncle — who recently attended his 50th Blanchard class reunion — only had 28 in his class.
“He was amazed by the experiences of the former students from this little area, and he recounted how truly remarkable this community’s impact on the world has been,” Riley said. “We come from a small close knit community, and we have a legacy of losing the constricting high school labels and going into this world and leaving a positive mark.”
Riley told graduates he looked forward to hearing stories of “marvelous and wonderful things” they will do to fulfill this legacy. Nearly $235,000 awarded in local and institutional scholarships will help them make this journey.
Next, top graduates provided funny stories and inspiration about facing the future.
Class president Blake Warchuck says it’s common for young kids to want to be astronauts, rock stars or super heroes when they grow up. But, as graduates, these dreams are no longer realistic, she said.
“They’re asking us again what we want to be, but this time they want a serious answer,” she said.
Some classmates will pursue military careers, while others go off to college. Yet, uncertainty may still exist.
“We may not know what we’re going to do,” she said. “It’s a big decision to make: trying to figure out what we’re going to do with the rest of our lives. We will struggle. We will make mistakes, but that’s OK.”
Salutatorian Parker Eldred, son of Tim and Cindy Eldred, will pursue a business degree at Montcalm Community College and Ferris State University. He began with a quote from “The Great Gatsby,” “You cannot repeat the past.”
Just as Gatsby discredited the story’s central theme of not being able to repeat the past, Eldred repeated past memories of funny stories and events — preschool graduation, building birdhouses, simple machines and volcanoes and senior projects. Eldred concluded by initiating a standing ovation for teachers and reading scripture from the Bible.
Following Eldred’s sentiments, senior band members joined the band for one last song — “Big Fun in the Sun” by David Marshall.
Valedictorian Cirsten Main, daughter of Chad and Cheryl Main, will attend Central Michigan University in the fall. Main talked about the impact choices have on future goals and said to “never give up on achieving these goals.” She believes a positive attitude, effort and hard work are necessary to be successful in the future.
“The beautiful part about the future is the endless possibilities,” she said. “No matter what your life is like today, right at this moment, tomorrow will be different.”
Main reiterated Warchuck’s comments about uncertainty in pursuing a career. She believes it’s important to “follow your dreams” and compliments classmates who are joining the military.
“Sometimes the most rewarding thing that we can do isn’t making a change in our lives, but making a difference in others,” she said.
Graduates attended an exclusive post-graduation drug- and alcohol-free celebration — sponsored by Montabella Project Graduation — at Zehnder’s Splash Village in Frankenmuth.