LINCOLN - School is finally over for 56 Alcona Community High School seniors. And they didn't have to wait long on Sunday. Their graduation ceremony inside the high school auditorium went at a good clip, with three students serving as commencement speakers.
The only jam came at the end of the ceremony, when the graduates passed through a human tunnel of teachers and staff as they exited the full auditorium. Standing in two lines, the educators praised the seniors and said goodbyes one last time amid tears and joy, a tradition that has been going on for 10 years, said Alcona Principal Terence Allison.
In her remarks, Valedictorian Marisa Hirschfelt recalled the earliest years of school as she stepped up to the microphone Sunday in a blue cap and gown.
"At the time we didn't know how good we had it," she said. "Childhood is something we'll never get back."
Senior year, in contrast, was a series of "lasts," she said.
"It's the last prom, the last prom dress, the last walk down the hallways, the last everything," she said. Yet there was something to look forward to.
"The diploma in our hands means independence - the choice to decide our own future and how to live it," she said.
Hirschfelt was followed by SalutatorianVictoria Keerl, who provided her perspective on coming of age. In additional to her academic accomplishments, Keerl was on the Tigers volleyball team and vice president of the school's National Honor Society chapter. She heads to Michigan Technological University.
Class President Catherine McNeill was third and summed up the celebration.
"Thirteen years of hard work, drama and all-nighters have led up to this day," she said. She also thanked her mother from the stage.
"High school is one of the most important times to have family behind you," she said.
As the graduates filed on stage one at a time to receive their diplomas, their future plans were read aloud. Some are joining the U.S. Air Force, Army and Navy. Others are headed to Alpena Community College and similar programs. Michigan State University picked up several of the graduates as did Central Michigan University.
Students' professional goals include the medical field, special investigations, culinary arts, pharmacy, small business management, combat engineering, animation and script writing, and automotive.
The graduation ceremony was to be streamed live online at MHSAA.TV/Alcona, through the efforts of ACHS Broadcasting. The video also should be available for on-demand viewing, according to the school's website.
Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.