News Advocate: Onekama Graduation

Onekama’s Class of 2016 challenged to be extraordinary

Posted by Dylan Savela, Manistee News Advocate
May 22nd, 2016

ONEKAMA — Alyssan Clarke closed her valedictorian address Sunday afternoon with a challenge to her classmates.

She explained to her soon-to-be fellow graduates that simply receiving their diploma doesn’t make the special. What they go on to do with it, however, certainly could.

“Hundreds of thousands of high school seniors are graduating with the same piece of paper around the country,” she said. “… I’m not saying you aren’t special to mothers, fathers, grandparents or to me, because you are. …

“But my request for each and everyone of you is to make yourself special, to make yourself extraordinary, stand out from the crowd, step out of your comfort zone.”

Onekama High School sent 46 graduates out into the world to find their specialty on Sunday during the school’s 117th commencement ceremony.

“My advice to you — and I give this advice every year: You need to give your best every day,” said Onekama Consolidated Schools superintendent Kevin Hughes during the opening address. “You all have special talents and you need to use them to their fullest.”

The ceremony took place in front of a packed gymnasium of friends, family and Onekama alumni on Sunday to celebrate the Class of 2016’s accomplishments.

A theme of family threaded its way through Clarke’s speech and that of salutatorian Ashley Kubiskey.

“This class has been through so much together,” Kubiskey said. “Most of us have known each other since we were in kindergarten. Some of us have known each other since we were babies. We have had the opportunity to watch each other grow up into the people we are today. …

“I really appreciate the friendships that this class shares. This class isn’t like any other class, we are more like a family; we are always there to support each other.”

Clarke echoed that sentiment.

“They tell you you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family,” she told her classmates. “But I’ll tell you what: I picked my family. I picked each and every one of you.”

The event featured several musical performances by the Onekama High School Band under the direction of Joy Smith. Onekama’s Courtney Madsen — a member of Sunday’s graduating class — treated those in attendance with an a cappella version of the song “Hysteria.”

A slideshow of pictures from the class’s past was also presented during the ceremony.

Onekama Board of Education members Mike Acton and Heidi Wisniski also delivered speeches Sunday in acceptance of the school’s latest graduates.

Principal Gina Hagen closed the ceremony by presenting diplomas and delivering the last bit of advice to the class.

“Take risks and don’t be afraid to fail,” she said. “George Bernard Shaw said, ‘A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.'”