Northport “7” were a one-of-a-kind class
After all I had played four different high school sports, was a member of a barbershop quartet in the school’s Merry-Go- Round, a National Honor Society member and co-editor of the Handy Pep, the school newspaper.
I was also the third sibling to graduate from the Bay City public school and I had two younger brothers attending Bay City Handy at the same time.
I learned Friday night that I’ve got nothing on the Northport kids.
Seven! Yes, seven students got their diplomas in the school's small gym. The record low is an anomaly, school officials say. Typically about 15 students graduate each year.
But there they were ... four guys and three girls in the entire graduating class. It isn’t often that class officers make up nearly two-thirds of the graduating class.
Not only does everyone in the high school know their names, they probably know what their middle initials stand for, their favorite meals and their grade point averages.
When I walked into the commencement exercise, I felt like I was at Cheers. You know the old television sitcom … a bar in Boston where everybody knows your name.
I’ve been in Leelanau County a year now. I’ve covered high school sports and even officiated basketball and soccer.
I knew something about six of the students prior to last week. I met Forrest Rogers first. He was the lone senior and keeper on the soccer team.
Valedictorian Nina Muller was No. 2. She was a standout volleyball and basketball player.
I met salutatorian John Petoskey, Francis Wanageshik and Austin Miller during the boys basketball season although I had seen Wanegeshik at soccer matches. I even remember the day he was the most popular guy on the planet, walking with two queens during the homecoming ceremonies.
One of the students, Chelsie Wack even welcomed me into her home, OK her grandparents’ home. Chelsie and her family let me tell their story of Chelsie’s recent diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. It was an emotional interview. The only student I had not met until Friday was Megan Henderson. But I did call her last week to ask her about her future plans and hopes. Her candid thoughts and reflections are on the cover of Section 2.
After listening to Wanageshik, Muller and Petoskey talk about their classmates, I was thinking I might have been closer to more of my hundreds of classmates.
The seven apparently didn’t get along. They even joked about it.
One called the seven a “dysfunctional family,” another said there was a “love-hate” relationship and another admitted they had not been “model students,” setting records for office visits, etc. In their own way, however, they said they actually loved their classmates.
One school official explained the graduates were simply “independent, free thinkers” with their own diverse interests, But in such a small school, there weren’t others that shared their same interests.
During the commencement exercise, this class was even out-numbered by Northport Class of 1962. Nine of them were on hand. They were also a part of Baccalaureate for the Class of 2012. They even had a reunion at the home of classmate who resides in Omena.
I’m wondering if there’ll be a class reunion with this recent Northport group of grads. They say time heals all wounds. Maybe in five, 10, 15 or 20 years it will come to fruition.
But one thing is certain about this Class of 2012. They will make a mark in their own way, whether it’s Rogers with a medal while serving in the Army, or Miller becoming the astronomer who finds life on another planet.
Maybe Wack will find become the greatest educator of all time or find a cure for the disease that threatened to take away her senior year.
Who knows, Wanageshik may become a dentist, Henderson a financial whiz, Muller a biologist and Petoskey an attorney arguing a case before the Supreme Court.