LAKEVIEW — One of the most inspiring years in the history of Lakeview Community Schools was capped off Sunday afternoon with a jubilant commencement ceremony at Kos Field.
Lakeview High School’s class of 2014 were just incoming freshmen in the summer of 2010 when the high school was named a persistently lowest achieving school by the Michigan Department of Education.
On Sunday, those former freshmen graduated from a high school that was named a reward school by the state, led by an administrator who was named Principal of the Year by the state.
“This is a joyous occasion that represents the hard work of the past 13 years of your life and will open the doors to your future,” Superintendent Kyle Hamlin told the 105 graduates. “We are proud of all of our students. Many of them have overcome great odds along the way.”
Hamlin recognized High School Principal Gary Jensen for helping turn the high school’s culture around. Hamlin noted the many successes of high school athletics this past school year, as well as the high school’s notable achievement of earning the highest ACT score in Montcalm County.
The sky was blue, the sun shone down hot, temps hovered in the mid-80s and the mood was festive as the graduating seniors remised about how far they’d come.
Seniors Kyler Ridgeway and Jordan Stephens had the audience laughing (and groaning) as they told corny jokes and took a few jabs at their athletic rivals, Central Montcalm. Seniors Colleen Allen and Kristina Brasington performed a rendition of, “It’s not about the money, money, money …” complete with maracas they whipped out from beneath their graduation gowns.
Nicholas Heath was honored as class valedictorian, boasting a perfect GPA of 4.0, while Nicole Bannen was named salutatorian. A total of 73 percent of Lakeview’s graduating class plans on attending college, while the remainder is going to work or remains undecided.
Students chose Michael Schreiber as their keynote speaker. Schreiber has taught at Lakeview for the past 29 years and also serves as curriculum coordinator and varsity boys basketball coach.
“Today isn’t about reaching the finish line,” Schreiber told the graduates. “It’s about winning the race. You are the champions.”
Schreiber said Lakeview’s class of 2014 will be remembered as considerate and motivated.
“It was this class that stepped forward and restored the dignity of this place,” he said. “You guys not only got into the tournament, you brought home the trophy. There is not one other class that can touch you guys. You have been the best. There are a lot of people here who care about you. Keep making us proud.”
Jensen closed Sunday’s ceremonies by bidding farewell to the graduates and having them repeat after him: “I love Mr. Jensen … and Mr. Jensen loves me.”
“I appreciate everybody who put this class together,” said Jensen, who was visibly emotional and proud of his entire school district.