2014-05-31 / Top News

Six Earn Diplomas in Mackinac Island Class of 2014

By Macaela Bennett


Members of the Class of 2014 were graduated from Mackinac Island Public School Friday, May 23. They are (from left): Hailey Armstrong, Adrienne Rilenge, Colton Fisher, Amelia Roe, Mary Schockling, and Halee Tokarz. See story, page 10. Members of the Class of 2014 were graduated from Mackinac Island Public School Friday, May 23. They are (from left): Hailey Armstrong, Adrienne Rilenge, Colton Fisher, Amelia Roe, Mary Schockling, and Halee Tokarz. See story, page 10. Six students in the Class of 2014 earned diplomas from Mackinac Island Public School Friday, May 23. Graduates are Hailey Armstrong, Colton Fisher, Adrienne Rilenge, Amelia Roe, Mary Schockling, and Halee Tokarz.

Approximately 200 community members filled the Lakers gymnasium at 7 p.m. for the commencement ceremony.

“Congratulations. That’s what this is all about. Not just to the students, but to the community, because it truly does take a village to raise a child,” guest speaker Father Jim Williams said.

His words rang true as the graduation ceremony focused on this connection between the graduating class and the community.

“All graduation ceremonies here are unique, since most everyone is so close to the kids,” school secretary and graduate grandmother Barb Fisher said afterward. “A lot of community members come just to support the kids because they’ve watched them grow up.”


Adrienne Rilenge, valedictorian for the Class of 2014, addresses her classmates and the crowd during the graduation ceremony Friday, May 23. She said she felt the six members of the class are her family and knows they will keep in contact and do great things for the world. Her speech brought many people to tears, including classmates and family members. Adrienne Rilenge, valedictorian for the Class of 2014, addresses her classmates and the crowd during the graduation ceremony Friday, May 23. She said she felt the six members of the class are her family and knows they will keep in contact and do great things for the world. Her speech brought many people to tears, including classmates and family members. The valedictorian speech delivered by Adrienne Rilenge centered around this familial closeness the students experienced.

“It wasn’t until I moved here that I understood what family meant,” she said, recalling many fond memories the six classmates share. “Most importantly, family is you... We are a puzzle, and when things are right, we fit.”

Combined, the six graduates earned more than $100,000 in scholarships from the school, community, and respective colleges and all will pursue fouryear degrees beginning this fall.

In his remarks, Fr. Williams gave the class several tips for their post-graduate plans.

“Have fun. Discover who you are. Do your best, but know it’s not going to be perfect,” he told the graduates. “Don’t worry about messing up. They still put erasers on pencils.”

After the commencement ceremony, Superintendent Dave Waaso cited a feature of the class that will aid in their success after high school.

“There’s a different dynamic, since there were five girls and one boy,” he said. “Because only one of them has a sister, they have to have that family, sister feeling that they haven’t experienced in their own homes. Being able to deal with that and be successful will help them as they go on and have to deal with other groups.”

Fr. Williams said the classmates worked well together and had no factions, like there sometimes are in other high schools.

The students have been particularly willing to volunteer their time to the community, said Mrs. Fisher, Colton’s grandmother.


Adrienne Rilenge hugs her mother, Julie Rilenge, after the Class of 2014 entered the school gymnasium. Adrienne Rilenge hugs her mother, Julie Rilenge, after the Class of 2014 entered the school gymnasium. “Every year, they have made a point to do community service on their own…” she said. “They always made it a point to give back to the community.”

As this was the first class that Mr. Waaso saw through all of its high school years, he felt this commencement was a special event in his career.

“I feel like I’ve had a greater impact on this group than other groups, because I’ve been with them longer,” he said. “It’s a happy time because we know they’re all going to college, but the hallway this morning felt pretty quiet without them. But you move on and start working with the next group.”

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