As if to offer a glimpse of their bright futures, the rain held off nearly completely last week Thursday, allowing the sun to poke through and deliver a gorgeous night for our 2013 graduates.
With a packed stadium filling the evening with applause, over 350 Jenison High School students filed solemnly past moms and dads and grandparents and onto center field for the last time. It was their moment to shine.
Superintendent Tom TenBrink began the evening with a gracious welcome and a reminder of how blessed our students are to attend a school as accomplished as Jenison, with teachers who care deeply, and with parents who are involved and supportive. He went on to outline the notable feats that Jenison has come to be known for, including:
- 13th best high school in the State of Michigan by US News & World Report
- Newsweek’s list of “Best High Schools in America” (only about 6% of all U.S. schools make this list)
- Grand Rapids Magazine’s 3rd best high school in West Michigan (although Mr. TenBrink argues we should be #1!)
Mr. TenBrink went on to encourage all of the graduates to pursue servant leadership in their lives — to think of others and to do more for them than you would for yourself. He admonished them to consider the words of so many great leaders and thinkers of our time, from Ghandi to Martin Luther King Jr., and live in such a way that elevates others while offering love and encouragement over selfish ambition and conceit.
Jenison High School Principal, Dr. Brandon Graham, was moved at the thought of these students beginning a new chapter, and chose to read selections from the children’s picture book, I’ll Love You Forever. He added his own take on the familiar classic with these words:
“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as you’re living, a Wildcat you’ll be!“
Aside from these emotional words, he shared thoughts on living a disciplined life going forward:
“You can walk away from this high school knowing that you’ve cemented your legacy. …But know there is always a price to be paid to be great, and it starts with doing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done. If you can keep your eyes fixed on your goals and say no to the quick fix and the easy road, you’ll reap the rewards of discipline.”
This group of graduates has certainly shown discipline and determination thus far, securing over $2.3 million in college scholarships collectively! Their hard work has garnered the attention of many in our community and across our great state. Please join me in celebrating our 2013 graduates and the future that lies ahead for each of them!
We wish them the best of luck, more sunshine than rain, and the discipline to follow their dreams.