Saying Goodbye to the Class of 2021
While all graduating classes at St. Patrick School are special to me, this one is a bit more special. When I started my tenure as administrator, this class started as my first kindergarten class. It has been an honor to watch them go through kindergarten all the way to graduation as their principal. Now, it is time to say goodbye as they will continue to build on the rock-solid foundation they have built here as they move on to the next phase of their lives.
As the beginning of the 2020-21 school year approached, it was our goal to have an as normal as possible school year for all our students. We especially wanted a “normal” school year for the Class of 2021. They already had lost the spring of their junior year of high school and we wanted to make sure they had an enjoyable final year of their school careers.
On the first day of school, I challenged them with the goal of helping me lead our school into normalcy. They were specifically asked to brainstorm and come up with as many ideas as possible and to make sure to share them with me; and of course, they delivered. They were strong leaders throughout the school year beginning with our annual spirit week celebration, having 36 girls on our cheerleading squad, coming up with new ideas for our Day of Giving, including Brice Cook having his head shaved, continuing through the planning of their senior trip adventure to Kalahari Resort, Shamrock Shakes on St. Patrick’s Day, hosting our own prom for the first time since 1969, activities planned by our Mind Over Matter committee, adapting our senior banquet, right up to rescheduling their last day of school.
Graduation day began with Mass celebrated by our pastor, the Reverend Michael Alber, who provided inspiring words for the Class of 2021 during his homily. After Mass, the graduates and their families moved to the school gymnasium for commencement. Mr. Hodge opened the ceremony with prayer and shared some inspiring words with the graduates. He shared the major achievements of the Class of 2021 which include:
● 16 of the 24 students are members of the National Honor Society.
● 17 out of 24 were recognized as CMAC Scholar Athletes, meaning they had at least a 3.4 GPA and lettered in at least two sports, one of which was in their senior year.
● 20 out of the 24 plan to go on to some form of higher education, with 3 entering the workforce, two of those possibly in a skilled trade, and one looking at the military.
● 18 of the 24 are graduating with honors (3.79 GPA or higher) with 11 of those having a weighted 4.0 GPA or higher and 20 having a grade point average of 3.50 or higher.
● They have a combined total of over $222,000 dollars in scholarships committed to those who plan to attend college.
Valedictorian Avery Zimmerman and Salutatorian Colette Pohl addressed their classmates; thanking those who helped them along the way, sharing accomplishments, memories, good times together, and all the possibilities for a great future. Following the speeches, the graduates were called forward to receive their diploma from Fr. Mike. One by one they turned their tassel, and the Class of 2021 joined a group of approximately 2,000 Shamrock alumni around the world.
Fr. Mike closed the ceremony with prayer, and the graduates processed out of the gym and into the future. Following their final class picture together and the traditional tossing of caps, there were hugs, handshakes, and family pictures to take.
As seniors, our class of 2021 succeeded in ensuring all our students had a great year despite the challenges we faced in doing so. They served as role models for our younger students, especially their Little Rocks, and provided many outstanding suggestions for ways to improve our school. We are all extremely proud of all that they accomplished during their time at St. Patrick School. We thank them for their leadership, work ethic, and how they have represented Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Roman Catholic Church, the Diocese of Grand Rapids, St. Patrick School, their families, and themselves. We are proud to say that they leave St. Patrick School with a firm foundation to continue living our mission statement. We Pray! We Learn! We Achieve! We look forward to seeing what the future holds for the Class of 2021. May God bless each and every one of them.
Randy Hodge is the High School Principal at St. Patrick School.