VESTABURG — Proud friends and relatives of the graduating class of 2017 filled Vestaburg High School’s gymnasium Sunday afternoon. Crossing the stage to receive their diplomas, the 40 graduates looked anxious to enter the next phase of their lives.
The ceremony got underway with the playing of “Pomp and Circumstance,” performed by the Vestaburg band.
The gathering was then welcomed by class president Sierra Putansu, who noted the students in her graduating class had “good hearts.” Putansu said she felt confident in the class’ ability to do well in the future.
Class valedictorian Kyare Betzing addressed the gathering next, exhorting the class to maintain a positive attitude throughout life, even when life presents challenges.
“Sometimes in life, we stumble,” Betzing said. “But we learn loyalty, passion and strength from these experiences.”
The salutatory address was delivered by Nathaniel Nisonger, who admitted that — although he was in hurry to get through high school in his freshman year — he now felt quite differently.
“We kind of don’t want (high school) to end,” he said. “With the end of high school comes the end of childhood.”
Nisonger added his classmates for the past four years have had “amazing talents and personalities.” He also credited parents and teachers for helping the students successfully navigate their high school years.
“I wish all of you the best of luck,” Nisonger said in closing.
The band followed these remarks with a rendition of “Best Day of My Life,” under senior director Harley Walker.
Class vice president Jillian TenHave introduced the commencement address speaker, Ryan Wood.
A 1975 graduate of Vestaburg High School, Wood earned a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University. In 1988, Wood was elected superintendent of DeWitt Charter Township. Later, he returned to CMU to earn his master’s in public administration.
He currently works as Clinton County administrator/controller and resides in DeWitt with his wife, Paula, and their two daughters.
Wood called upon the graduates to be appreciative of the parents and school staff who have seen them through this phase of their lives.
He added that civility and community are the keystones of a successful life. Vestaburg, he noted, is an involved community and plays an active role in the success of its school system.
“Vestaburg isn’t big or glitzy,” he said. “It’s not a tourist community, but it is a good community. I’m proud of Vestaburg because the people here do look out for each other.”
As evidence, Wood offered several examples of the community coming together to help fund school functions and facilities.
“Be proud of Vestaburg,” Wood said. “Carry it forward.”
Vestaburg Superintendent Brandon Hubbard handled the confirmation of diplomas, which were then presented to the graduates by school board members Carol Herman and Lynn VanSickler.
Hubbard then presented the graduating class to the gathering, after which the students filed out, again to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance.”