BY JESSICA STEELEY
Clarkston News Staff Writer
A warm, sunny evening pervaded the commencement ceremony of Clarkston High School’s Class of 2017.
“Commencement is more than simply an annual event, particularly in Clarkston. It’s a moment shared between faculty, families and students,” Principal Gary Kaul said. “It’s a time when the school and the community come together for a rite of passage that’s filled with pride and achievement and a sense of nostalgia.”
Before his student speaker address, Brian Blust called peer Garrett Etengoff to the stage to lead the group in one last “rollercoaster ride.”
“About 13 years ago, we embarked on a journey. A journey which we could not simply see how we would get there, let alone envision its impact on our lives,” Blust said. “Our focus remained on little thoughts, brought forth by our little minds, and displayed through our little hands. It was impossible to see even a glimpse into the moment which you’re living right now as our present selves.”
Graduates Drue Froeschke, Alison Ferer, Timothy Dalrymple, Haley Koss and Taylor Smith recounted the trends, memories, events and accomplishments their class had throughout the last four years.
“We need to always remember the opportunities we have been given here in Clarkston as we all go our own way. Don’t forget the town that helped build who you are today,” Smith said.
Blust said their class formed a unique legacy within Clarkston, they can create any path they want for their future and accomplish the impossible.
“I stand up here today to congratulate all of you on your accomplishments and to send you off into the world of what if’s. Never forget where you came from, embrace the future with an open mind and tackle the challenges you have set for yourself,” he said. “As my childhood philosopher, Dr. Seuss, once said ‘You’re off to great places, today’s your day, your mountain is waiting, so get on your way.’”
Superintendent Rod Rock commended Clarkston for having the “very best kids in the world” and listed class accomplishments, specific students’ future plans and even helped make two graduates dream come true by allowing them to perform an original song on stage in front of the audience.
He told the students he will be giving them all a box with a red thread inside and a signed card with a date on the back, with the intention to have each person email him on that date with an update on their life.
“Inside this box is stuffing, and that stuffing represents what’s inside your hearts, and the box itself represents a case of agency,” Rock said. “Wherever you go in the world, if you go off to college, or the army, if you go off to the world of work, put this box where you can see it and remember that this community believes in you, it believes in the power of your dreams and we’re always here to support you and help you in any way that we can.”
His speech ended with the choir singing “Road Less Traveled” while graduates tossed around a beach ball.
After final comments by Principal Kaul, the Class of 2017 walked the DTE stage and all 603 graduates were conferred their diplomas.
The graduates waved sunflowers during the last song and threw their caps high into the air, ready to continue the next chapter of their lives.