BRIDGMAN — True to their class song, the Bridgman High School Class of 2017 went out “on top of the world” with a classical graduation ceremony on Sunday, June 4.

After presentation of the colors by American Legion Post 331 and the “Star Spangled Banner” sung by Senior Class Treasurer Boden Boersma and Class Advisor Andrea Countess, Principal Sam Stine, himself a 1990 graduate, began the program stating that this year’s graduates had taken full advantage of all the courses, programs and opportunities offered at Bridgman High School.

Stine later ended the program illustrating his statement by having the students stand to show their participation in the wide variety of offerings, from academic achievements to sports and arts programs, special interest clubs, internships and apprenticeships, advanced placement and college credit classes, career and technical training and community service programs.

In her welcome, Senior Class President McKenna Smith said her fellow classmates can’t forget the awkward Middle School slow dances, class cheers and intense competition, the late night sporting events and dancing the night away at the prom.  But, she said, they also will remember every teacher who helped them along the way and the families that were there to give their support.

 “We learned how to make friends and become the accomplished people we are today,” Smith said, continuing that while all will follow their own course, they will all remember their time at Bridgman High School that gave them “enough memories to last a lifetime.”

“The Class of 2017 is on to bigger and better things, determined to make a difference in this this world but we will never forget what we did here,” Smith said.

Stine then introduced the Board of Education and high school staff, while Student Senate President Madelaine Gelesko and Vice President Logan Peters welcomed other special guests and the 21 representatives of the Class of 1967, celebrating their 50th Reunion.

Superintendent Shane Peters began his remarks describing the 2017 Class as “one of those that definitely stood out above the rest” in test scores, performing arts achievements, sports team standings and impact on the people outside of the school through their community service.

“It is truly an amazing class.”

Peters then shared the words he first heard 29 years ago at his high school graduation and has since shared with graduating classes for 18 years, from “Desiderata – Words for Life,” by Max Ehrmann. The poem begins, “Go placidly amid the noise and haste,” and ends “Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”

Class of 2017 Vice President Alysha Loraff gave the first Senior Address in which she shared five pieces of advice with her fellow graduates:  first, self-care by preserving your identity, calling home, checking in with friends, looking at old pictures and recalling the memories; second, stay on track and don’t let anything get in your way; third, be open to new things, find yourselves and change the world; fourth, be thankful to everyone along the way and for the opportunities and even for misfortunes that have been overcome, and five, smile, adding one of her favorite quotes, “Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened.”

Saying Bridgman will always be home, on the count of three Loraff then led the class in one last, loud “Go Bees!”

Brooke Janes gave the second Senior Address, beginning by thanking the many who impacted their lives in both the school and the surrounding community including: Class Advisors Amanda Veldman and Andrea Countess; teachers and staff and members of the front office and custodians; Principal Stine who stood outside no matter how cold and the others who welcomed them every morning, and parents and family who grew grey hair as they encouraged and guided the class.

Saying the last four years were not just about the classes and games but about the people they spent them with, Janes said, “I am honored to call each and every one of you my brothers and sisters … I cannot wait to see what each of you do with your futures. Thank you for making me so lucky to make saying goodbye so hard. As we leave we know we are well prepared for what is ahead.” 

Stine then pronounced the graduates duly certified, they were congratulated by the school board members and received their diplomas from Peters. Class President Smith led them in the traditional turning of the tassels and the graduation caps were tossed in the air to make their graduation complete.

The top 10 scholars are: Madelaine Gelesko, Ryan Chang, Madelynne Keller, Aidan Diefenbach, Emma Hahn, Lindsay Warriner, Klayton Hob­son, Julie Jasper, Zachary Noll and Brooke Janes.

Members of the Bridgman High School Class of 2017 are: Gavin Ales, Charles Anderson Jr., Gabriel Bachle­da, Courtney Baham, Garrett Bailey, Connor Behrens, Boden Boersma, Carli Bredice, Emily Brown, Cameron Brych­ta, Ryan Chang, Ashley Crowder, Cas­sandra Deckert, Aidan Diefenbach, Lis­beth Estebes, Amber Fleisher, Isaac Frieden, Ashley Fulbright, Madelaine Gelesko, Kelsey Gnodtke, Celeste Golland, Emma Hahn, Kole Hanke, Hailey Harding-Bruin, Kelsey Hart, Miranda Hart, Pedro Hernandez, Celeste Hildeb­randt, Klayton Hobson, Edmund Ho­jara IV, Brooke Janes, Julie Jasper, Ken­nedy Jones, McKenzie Jones, Ian Kauffman, Madelynne Keller, Ryan Keller, Matthew Kemp, Kayla Korcek, Alexander Kroeze, Collin Krumrie, Katlin Kunde, Alysha Loraff, Logan McFall, Hannah McLellan, Kennedy Melton, Jaden Miller, Hanna Nasseh, Mina Nelson, Zachary Noll, Zachary Ott, Brandon Owen, Brian Patrick, Logan Peters, Haley Pope, Adam Poschke, Gracie Prewitt, Savanna Prewitt, Carly Pullins, Mia Rankin, John Robbins, Trevor Rosen­thal, Tiffany Ruff, Austin Russell, Aar­on Schlipp, Ava Schneider, Samuel Scott, Julian Sheriff, Dayton Siewert, Tyler Slavicek, McKenna Smith, Anna Taylor, Mikayla Thompson, Marcus Villa, Lindsay Warriner, Evan Weber, Grant Whitman, Bailey Wiese, Lilian Wisner, John Wohler.

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