Friends and family gathered at the L.C. Walker Arena in downtown Muskegon to celebrate Fruitport High School’s Class of 2018.
Superintendent Bob Szymoniak encouraged the graduates to discover and pursue their passions, be brave, take chances, find their voice and make a difference.
Class President Desiree Glynn said she knows everyone worked hard to earn their high school diploma. She thanked friends, family and district staff for helping them along the way.
Senior Speaker Alysa Giudici said the year was filled with firsts, which included a snow day in April and seeing construction begin at the high school.
Related: See more photos from the graduation ceremony at the Tribune gallery.
This was also the last class to walk the high school’s halls all four years the way the building stood for the past 50 years, Giudici noted. As the new building takes shape and receives its foundation, she said the school district also helped them receive their foundations for the people they are and will become.
After walking the hallways during their freshman year, the now-graduating class felt more at home and started planting their roots in their sophomore year, Giudici said. Junior year brought standardized testing and planning for the future, while senior year was filled with football games, prom and scholarships, she said. Their final year was also filled with commitment and decisions, she added.
No matter where the future takes the new graduates, Giudici said they'll always have part of Fruitport with them.
Next fall, Haley Vorgias plans to attend Ferris State University, where she will study marketing. Vorgias, 17, took business and art classes, which she said helped shape the career path she decided to pursue.
Aubrey Shepherd, 18, said spending two years in the Muskegon Area Career Tech Center’s automotive program helped her decide what field she plans to enter.
“It was the opportunity of a lifetime,” she said of attending the classes.
Shepherd said she plans to directly enter the workforce following graduation.
Leah Backensto, 17, also attributed the Muskegon Area Career Tech Center to her future plans. After participating in the culinary program, she said she plans to study at the Culinary Institute of Michigan through Baker College.
Fruitport Principal Lauren Chesney spoke to the students about success. Leading up to graduation, success was measured by accomplishing goals such as completing elementary, middle and high schools, she noted. Now that the graduates are beginning new chapters, Chesney said success will be measured differently.
Chesney encouraged the graduates to follow their hearts and dream big.
“You're the ones setting your goals and check points because this is your journey,” she said.