2017-06-01 / Front Page

153 grads ready for diplomas

Classes keep shrinking
By Amy Hubbell Of The Enterprise staff

The smallest class of Leelanau County graduates in recent history will be issued diplomas in five separate commencement ceremonies this weekend in Leelanau County.

Just 153 seniors are scheduled to march to Pomp and Circumstance Friday and Sunday at the county’s four public school districts and Lake Leelanau St. Mary. The number is down from 158 last spring.

Grad numbers dropped or remained the same at four of the five schools this year. Suttons Bay Public School is the anomaly with 10 more donning caps and gowns than last year at 46.

“There’s been real success with that group of kids,” Superintendent Chris Nelson said. “They’ve been active in a lot of different extracurriculars and are a special group.”

While Nelson is pleased with the graduating class size, without major demographic changes in the number of young families moving into the county he’s concerned about a smaller pool of students in the future.


SUTTONS BAY softball players (from left) Natalie Ingwersen, Grace Periard, Laura Hursey, and Morgan Kohler slipped out to the softball diamond during school on Tuesday—but don’t be alarmed by the red Solo cups. The underclassmen used the cups to spell out “WE (LOVE) OUR SENIORS” in the outfield fence in time for the seniors’ last regular season home game. Not pictured is cup artist Tori Smith. SUTTONS BAY softball players (from left) Natalie Ingwersen, Grace Periard, Laura Hursey, and Morgan Kohler slipped out to the softball diamond during school on Tuesday—but don’t be alarmed by the red Solo cups. The underclassmen used the cups to spell out “WE (LOVE) OUR SENIORS” in the outfield fence in time for the seniors’ last regular season home game. Not pictured is cup artist Tori Smith. Also participating in the Suttons Bay graduation ceremony are five “virtual students” who have completed coursework online and will be receiving diplomas.

“It’s hard to feel really good about this number with the teeter-totter numbers we’re seeing,” he said.

The number of students graduating now are significantly lower than the number entering kindergarten.

“We plan for 20 and anything higher is a bonus,” Nelson said.

Glen Lake’s graduating class of 67 — unchanged from last year — comprises more than a third of county graduates.

Numbers at the two other public schools and St. Mary are down from 2016.

Leland’s Class of 2017 numbers 28, a dip of 11 from 39 grads last year.

Northport and St. Mary have fewer than 10 students graduating this year. Northport’s fourmember class is down from 10 in 2016. St. Mary dropped from nine to eight.

To offer a little perspective, consider some past figures:

 Ten years ago, 214 students graduated from the five county schools. Suttons Bay had the highest number of grads at 90. Glen Lake was second in number with 60.

 In 2009, there were 147 seniors graduating alone from Suttons Bay (83) and Glen Lake (64). That year 219 students graduated from all county schools combined.

 A high of 244 seniors graduated from county schools in 2010, nearly 100 more than the Class of 2017.

Friday night two schools have commencement ceremonies scheduled. The remaining three will be held Sunday afternoon.

Leland Public School will hold its graduation at 7 p.m. in the school gymnasium with a special guest lined up as the featured speaker.

Former astronaut and author Jerry M. Linenger will address graduates, their families and friends. During his career at NASA, Linenger flew on the Space Shuttle Atlantis and the Mir Space Station.

Leland’s four valedictorians — Kira Metcalf, Jennifer McMullen, Julie Bardenhagen and Roger Crimmins — will also be speaking.

Northport Public School’s four graduates will be celebrated Friday at 7 p.m. at the Northport Community Art Center auditorium.

Former school librarian Jeremy (cq) Connolly will take the podium as featured speaker. Valedictorian Elizabeth Fredrickson and Manmeet Dhami will also address those attending.

Glen Lake’s graduation is set for 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the large gymnasium with seniors Glen Bredin, Cathy Daniel and Annie Lively tapped to speak.

Jerry Angers, Glen Lake football coach and father of graduating senior Austin “Duke” Angers, will also take the podium.

Suttons Bay’s Class of 2017 will be celebrated at 3 p.m. in the school gymnasium.

Former band instruction Emily Morgan-Booth will return to the district as the featured speaker at graduation. Morgan-Booth left the district to take a position in Marquette in 2015.

Kelsey Pease, top scholar of Suttons Bay’s Class of 2017, will give a valedictory address. Morgan Jeffrey, saluatorian, will also speak.

Lake Leelanau St. Mary will celebrate its senior class in two separate events Sunday. The baccalaureate Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Sunday at St. Mary Church.

Commencement will be held at 5 p.m., also in the church.

Amanda Kohler, a 1997 St. Mary alumna and school parent, will be the featured speaker.

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