Friends and families filled the the L.C. Walker Arena to celebrate Fruitport High School's Class of 2017.
Fruitport Community Schools Superintendent Bob Szymoniak told the graduates that defining moments are about choices.
"This is a defining moment in your life," he said.
Szymoniak shared a personal story that he chose as a defining moment in his life. A student asked Beach Elementary School Principal Courtney Stahl if Szymoniak was her grandpa, so the superintendent decided to reclaim his youth during a dodgeball tournament the following week.
For 10 minutes, Szymoniak felt fearless and invincible as he caught and threw balls. A pop in Szymoniak's right leg brought him down to a knee, but he held his ground and finished the game.
Szymoniak found out he had ruptured his Achilles tendon, and he had a cast and was on crutches for several weeks. During that time, Szymoniak said he became more appreciative for being middle-age, the random acts of kindness he experienced and handicap accessibility.
Szymoniak told graduates that they have contributed to a defining moment for Fruitport, and they helped put the high school on the map as a school of excellence along the Lakeshore.
After years of being alongside the Class of 2017 and planting seeds for their future, FHS Principal Lauren Chesney said it's time to step back and watch graduates grow as they set out on the next chapter of their lives.
Chesney told the graduates that the Fruitport Community Schools staff members have cared about them as they've gone through the system, and they'll continue to care wherever the future takes them.
Although graduates Katrina Griswold, Morgan Grow and Desiree Hegenbart said they will miss seeing their friends every day, they're looking forward to what the future holds.
Griswold, 18, said she will also miss the special traditions at Fruitport High School, such as the Battle of the Bayou and the Circle of Friendship graduates make as they prepare to toss their caps following graduation.
Senior speaker Max Wright said that graduation is scary and exciting, like a roller coaster. Wright, who plans to study business at Muskegon Community College, explained that the way up the roller coaster tracks is the hard work that brought them to graduation. The drop of the roller coaster is graduation, and the twists and turns along the way give the roller coaster shape. Wright said those twists shape their character along the way.
Wright challenged his classmates to live life to the fullest and do what makes them happy.
"No matter what we experience on life's roller coasters, I wish you well," he said.