Celebrating Seniors: East Kentwood High School

Kent County

KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — East Kentwood High School has more than 500 seniors hoping to attend an in-person graduation ceremony later in the summer, while knowing there’s a chance that won’t happen.

They all drove through the checkout line this week to turn in their text books and other school items, and receive their diplomas and yard signs, a new addition to the senior checkout ritual, since the students have had to learn from home this semester.

Administrators also created a magazine of the seniors pictured in their caps and gowns, which they will distribute as another way to honor their achievements.

Michael Ostuno was the News 8 student of the week for the school’s Football Frenzy Tailgate last fall. He was picked for his servant leadership and the quiet way in which he inspired his classmates.

He was a state champion in track and field and excelled academically with plans to attend Columbia University in New York City this fall.

Even with all the unexpected change this semester, one thing that has not changed, is his positive attitude.

“I think it’s important to come away with the perspective from the situation that nothing in life is guaranteed. We need to really be more open to adversity and as open to change as possible,” he said of the situation.

In a virtual roundtable with News 8, other students shared their experiences learning from home in the last two months. Quyen and Brooklyn explained that they have missed seeing all of their classmates. Jayden explained that besides graduation and prom, he missed the projects he had planned for student council events.

Kate H. was on the soccer team and ran track and field but wasn’t able to compete the season this spring due to the cancellation of school.

“We took for granted a ton of things that we were supposed to do. You go from being so busy to really having nothing on your plate at all, but we’re getting through it, which is good,” she said.

Colton Emeott plans to run track and field at the University of Nebraska. And if sports aren’t possible, he’ll still do classes there online in the fall.

Jordan Blends will go to Alabama State University, while his classmate, also named Jordan, plans to attend Wilmington University to play basketball.

Blends said ending the semester by doing classes online has prepared him well for the possibility of doing the same as he begins his freshman year of college, which he and his classmates all hope they won’t have to do.

Members of the student council recorded the following message to share with their peers:

“To the graduating class of 2020, the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams, and it was our dreams that inspired some of the greatest change here in this school. Our love for each other, our hunger to always strive for more is what connects us now and will continue to connect us wherever we may walk. The obstacles we face now and the obstacles that we will inevitably face in the future will not define us. We are focused, we are better prepared to respond to those obstacles, and bumping into each other in these hallways was like bumping into the next politician athlete or actor and sharing our stadium. We were cheering alongside with 600 faces from across the world standing in this foyer while surrounded by these flags, we are still the class of 2020 we are still the future. We are forever family. We are forever friends. We are forever falcons.”

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