For the 19 graduating seniors of the class of 2012, Friday was, according to head of school Pete Pullen, one of the "greatest days of their lives."
"Do you remember when you experienced the greatest moment of your life?" Pullen asked the packed crowd during the Friday afternoon graduation ceremony. "That's what today represents for the class of 2012 — the greatest day of their lives."
The class of 2012 was the 26th graduating class from the Eton Academy, an independent co-educational school for students with reading, attention and other learning challenges.
Friday also represented an important milestone for many in the graduating class of 2012: the transition from high school to college. Sixteen of the 19 seniors have confirmed they will attend college in the fall. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, only 13 percent of similar students nationwide go to college.
The keynote speaker Friday was Richard Bush, director of eLearning Services at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield. Bush said growing up, school was hard and oftentimes, he couldn't understand why he wasn't making the grades like his classmates.
"If (the Eton Academy) were celebrating its 45th birthday, and not its 26th birthday, I'd be standing up here as an alumni."
After shedding a few tears, Bush told students if they continued to use the skills they've acquired at the Eton Academy, there's should be no limit to their ambitions and dreams.
"Kites fly the highest against the strongest wind," Bush said. "Be the kite that flies the highest."
Senior accolades include time spent abroad
However, it was the students the shined the brightest Friday.
"All of us seniors are unique," said senior speaker Lauren Daniels. "But we have one thing in common: we are not failures."
Besides the 16 graduates going to college, ten are members of the National Honor Society, which requires maintaining a 3.0 GPA on top of demonstrating a commitment to exemplary character and community service.
Seniors were accepted to a total of 17 colleges and universities this year, from Grand Valley State University and Oakland Community College, to Temple University and the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.
In addition, two seniors spent time abroad their senior year. Alexa Roberts spent her first semester in Northhamptonshire, England and upon returning to Eton, served as the student director of the school's theater production of Mulan.
Meanwhile, graduating senior John Schwarcz completed his high school credits last spring and spent a gap year in Israel volunteering and taking college classes in the evening.
The 19 graduating seniors from the Eton Academy class of 2012 are:
- Austin Conway
- Lauren Daniels
- Ryder DelSignore
- Lindsey Duda
- Dana Fine
- Chris Jackson
- Julia Kamp
- Nathaniel Lipsky
- Dana Murphy
- Alex Radner
- Colin Renneker
- Alexa Roberts
- Brett Rons
- John Schwarcz
- Kwame Stone
- Sean Sullivan
- James Twomey
- Eric Vergeldt
- Eli Yaker