GREENVILLE — After many years of hard work and unmatched determination, seven students are walking away from the Seiter Education Center ready to embark on the next phases of their lives.
Coming together from three high schools, the special education students earned their high school diplomas in front of friends, family, teachers and fellow students Friday afternoon.
“This is a great opportunity for me to recognize and reward our young men and women for their hard work and their dedication,” said Montcalm Area Intermediate School District Superintendent Scott Koenigsknecht to start their graduation ceremony. “To the graduates, I would like to start by congratulating you on a job well done.”
Koenigsknecht said he wanted the students to follow by the advise of a quote by Albert Einstein that he holds close to his heart: “Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
“I truly believe in this rather simple yet complex statement. It is one of my core beliefs … we are all good at something, though you may not think it, we all have a gift,” he said. “As you leave here today, know that you matter as an individual. That you all have a purpose in our society. Know that you have value in life, and know that you have the skills and the abilities to change the world in your own way.”
One by one, each student was introduced to the audience before they were called to the front of the crowd to receive their diploma.
Seiter Education Center teacher Jeni Enbody spoke fondly of her two graduating students.
Daniel Stevens, a Greenville High School graduate, beamed a smile from ear to ear as Enbody introduced him.
“Danny Stephens will surly be missed here at Seiter, we will miss his contagious smile, laughter, wonderful song choices … high energy level and enthusiasm,” she said. “Danny is a very hard worker and does all of his seat-work, group work and shredding in his five years of working at the church.”
Enbody’s other student, Brett Dryer, contained his excitement until it was finally time for him to stand.
“Brett Dryer will also be missed here at Seiter, we will miss his belly-laughing, amazing dance moves, and wonderful hugs he gives,” she said. “He has grown tremendously in his communication by using his communication strips, sign language, facial expressions and his eyes. He has also grown so much in the past year on his independence. Brett is such a hard worker and a quick learner.”
Central Montcalm Learning Center teacher Brenda Buck introduced all four of her students, who have each been accepted to Montcalm Community College.
“All four students have applied, visited and been accepted to Montcalm Community College,” she said. “This is a monumental achievement. These students have faced many adversities in their young lives, yet they have chosen to push through their challenge, and by doing so, they have bloomed today as high school graduates.”
Buck’s first student, Desiree Bartrum, was brought to tears upon earning her diploma from Central Montcalm High School.
“I have been blessed with the opportunity to meet Des, she has touched my life in many ways that she will never know,” Buck said. “She has the drive to succeed and will be successful in life. She has struggled and faced many adversities, and which each one, she has conquered her challenge.”
Next, Buck introduced Joshua Bartrum, also a Central Montcalm High School graduate.
“During this time Josh has had many gains in understanding his feelings and how to demonstrate appropriate ways of showing his feelings,” she said. “With each obstacle that Josh has worked through, he has become a stronger man. He will take that strength and become a very successful adult.”
Graduating from Tri County High School, Kyle Cook was next to receive his diploma.
“I’ve watched Kyle grow and mature in many ways,” she said. “Kyle has the drive and the determination to overcome the challenges he has faced in his life. He now has the skills to be a very successful adult.”
And concluding the list of graduates was Robert Wilson, a graduate of Central Montcalm High School.
“Robert has grown and matured in so many ways,” Buck said. “He is a very hardworking student who always strived consistently to make sure all of his assignments were completed and turned in.”
Graduate Alex Woodruff was not present at Friday’s ceremony.
With a diploma now in the hand of each student, Seiter Education Center Principal Derek Cooley officially declared them graduates with the turning of their tassels.
“On behalf of our seven local districts and through the Montcalm Area Intermediate School District Board of Education, I do hereby confer each of you the certificate of completion or diploma for which you have earned,” he said.
Sharing many hugs, handshakes and tears between family and friends, the six students stood proud together of their lasting achievement.