2005-06-03 / Top News

4 Graduated in Island Class of ‘05

By Leslie Rott

Mackinac Island graduates are (from left) Jamie Andress, Emma Chambers, Blisse Beardsley, and Richard Chaffee.
Mackinac Island graduates are (from left) Jamie Andress, Emma Chambers, Blisse Beardsley, and Richard Chaffee.

With “Pomp and Circumstance,” seniors Jamie Andress, Blisse Beardsley, Richard Chaffee, and Emma Chambers took their final steps as Mackinac Island Public School students at 7 p.m. Friday, May 27, in the gymnasium of the school.

Before the ceremony, the seniors presented their mothers with roses, thanking them for all of their love and support over the years. Then they walked through a fern arch, ushered to commencement by their siblings.

Commencement speaker Father Jim Williams, pastor at Ste. Anne’s Church, told the graduates: “You are going to be competing for the first time with individuals. You are going to have to try harder, run faster, and think smarter.”

He said the graduates must continue their education and that they must keep their faith to keep a perspective on things.

“You’re going to face opportunity that we never saw ,” he told the class. “You’re so lucky.”

Superintendent Jack Dehring shared his memories of each student, noting that the worst memory of school for Blisse Beardsley was losing a game to Paradise. Mr. Dehring said he will remember Miss Beardsley for her dry wit and said, “I will continue to laugh whenever I think of her.” Richard Chaffee’s worst memory of school was having to say goodbye to his friends, for Emma Chambers, it was losing at the volleyball district competition.

Mr. Dehring said he will remember Richard Chaffee for his athletic ability and Emma Chambers for her nickname, “pinkie.”

“This is never an easy time for me,” Mr. Dehring said of graduation. “These are my kids, they know I love them.”

Valedictorian Blisse Beardsley will carry memories, too.

“I can’t believe this day is really here,” she said.

Jamie Andress is the most easy-going person she has ever met, she said, and always kept school interesting. Richard Chaffee was always chasing girls, she remembered, and she and the other girls loved to get him in trouble. While she and Emma Chambers competed with each other in just about everything, Emma, she said, is “the friend that every girl needs.”

The graduates will each attend a different college in the fall and Blisse Beardsley encouraged her fellow students to carry with them much of what they have learned from life on the Island.

“We don’t really get upset about the little things,” she reminded them. No matter how hard things get, “just enjoy each day, don’t look ahead all the time.”

She told her classmates they can always find her and can always count on her for free fudge.

“I know I am going to miss it here,” she said.

Teacher Karen Allen showed the senior video that she and her students created, which took the audience back to when the four seniors were young. With Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” in the background, the graduates seemed filled with the excitement of what their lives are going to become, but hesitant, when they go to college, to leave the comforts of the Island and community they have known for so long.

Mr. Dehring told the graduates that two words, “Mackinac Island,” will always help them start a conversation.

When School Board President Ben Mosley presented the four students with diplomas, they officially became the Mackinac Island Public School graduating class of 2005.

Immediately following the ceremony, a party was held in the all-purpose room in honor of the graduates.

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