‘This is a milestone’

Krystle Wagner • May 30, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Central High School’s Class of 2018 received a standing ovation as they moved their tassels from right to left Tuesday night.

Friends and family celebrated the graduates from Grand Haven’s other high school and Cyber School during the commencement ceremony at the Performing Arts Center at Grand Haven High School.

Central Principal Paul Kunde awarded Abbie House with the Outstanding Student Award. He said the school’s staff described House as diligent, a great role model and a respectful student who they will be sad to see leave.

Cyber School Director Kevin Berko said that graduation is one stepping stone in their journey. He said that although the road to graduation might have been rough at times and filled with turns, it makes their accomplishment all the more special.

“This is a milestone,” Berko said.

Related: See more photos from the ceremony at the Tribune photo gallery.

Grand Haven Area Public Schools Superintendent Andy Ingall encouraged graduates to never stop learning and to keep growing. He said they will always have the support of Grand Haven behind them wherever they go.

Angela Bazan, 17, said the past year has been “chaos but worth it.” While working 23 hours a week, Bazan balanced fitting two years of school into one year in order to graduate early. She figured that if she had the opportunity, she should take advantage of it.

Bazan started taking Cyber School classes at the end of her sophomore year of high school. Since the beginning, Bazan said the staff was welcoming and encouraging. They became like family to her, she said.

Bazan plans to attend Grand Rapids Community College. She is considering pursuing a future in business or marketing, but there are many options she could see applying herself to, she said.

As graduates received their diplomas Tuesday night, 12-year-old Cordel Brionez presented his brother, Richard, with a diploma from Central High School. Richard, 18, surprised his younger brother with the opportunity because he thought it would be a “cool surprise.” Cordel said he felt honored.

With their older brother already graduated, Cordel said watching Richard on Tuesday night means he’s the next in line to graduate, which will happen in 2024.

Richard Brionez plans to continue working at Grand Haven Autowash/Pennzoil until he decides what his next step will include. He said he will miss seeing everyone at the school every day, but he's excited to see where the future takes him.

Jason Lintjer, the head swimming and diving coach at Alma College, spoke to the graduates about overcoming adversity. Lintjer, a Grand Haven High School alumnus, said he didn’t understand the significance of high school graduation 10 years ago.

As they look back at their high school experiences, Lintjer said they might think about their hard work, stress, making new friends, growing up and learning to work with other people. He said graduation is a celebration of their hard work, and the most important message he could leave with them is that hard work pays off.

“Hard work will always keep you moving forward,” Lintjer said.

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