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Sterling Heights, Utica

June 4, 2014

UCS’s Class of 2014 gets ready to graduate

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

STERLING HEIGHTS — For Brooke Halliwill, the academic journey through Utica Community Schools is almost over, but a busy schedule is just the antidote to any temptation of senioritis.

Halliwill, a Utica High School senior, will join hundreds of her fellow students in the Class of 2014 in celebrating graduation this month.

“It’s extremely busy,” she said. “Everyone is doing everything we can. People are planning our graduation parties at our houses with our families.

“The weather is nice outside, so everyone is starting to hang out together. We’re all really, really, really super busy.”

Halliwill, who sits on several student clubs, including Student Council and the National Honor Society, said she is also positioned to be a valedictorian. She said her school just finished a period of fun dress-up days with Senior Week, and final exams were scheduled for the end of May.

She said she is especially excited for her June 5 senior prom and June 7 graduation at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Directly following graduation comes the Senior All-Night Party, which Halliwill said is put together with the help of parents, volunteers and the Student Council.

The party, she said, will be at Joe Dumars’ Fieldhouse in Shelby Township, adding that students can look forward to activities including Whirlyball, laser tag, basketball and volleyball.

“We will have the whole facility. They bring in a hypnotist, they set up a casino, and they do a drawing for prizes.”

School district spokesman Tim McAvoy said this year’s graduating class includes 431 students from Utica High School, 455 from Henry Ford II High School, 667 from Eisenhower High School, 602 from Stevenson High School and 104 from the Utica Academy for International Studies.

The Adult Education, Utica Learning Academy and AdvancePath Academy programs will give out diplomas to a total of 117 students, he said.

Eisenhower Principal Nanette Chesney said she will remember the Class of 2014 for implementing some
new school traditions.

For instance, she said, they held a Senior Sunrise to mark the beginning of the school year, and students watched the sun come up, ate breakfast and blew bubbles. Recently, they celebrated a Senior Sunset that involved watching the sun go down, signing yearbooks and watching a movie, she said.

Chesney said every senior class takes on its own personality, and she said she will remember this one for its kind demeanor, good manners and active volunteer work.

“They are a group of the nicest, sweetest kids that you’d ever want to meet,” she said. “They open doors for people. They say hello. They say good morning.”

She added that many students who were recently acknowledged at an honors night said they were considering going into the medical field or some area of research.

“It is just pretty much the expectation for the seniors that they will go to college,” she said.

This is the first year that Ken Cucchi has been principal at Ford. He said the senior class has set the tone and the example of leadership in every capacity.

In contrast to the uneasiness that some grads may have felt toward the future a few years ago, Cucchi said he thinks this group is ready to carry on in their studies and future careers.

“I think they feel they’ve got a good base,” he said. “They don’t really seem misguided at all. They have a good sense of where they want to go, what they want to do.”

According to Halliwill, the end of the year is “bittersweet” for many students.

“Everyone is pretty excited for summer. … But we’re also kind of sad because it’s the last time we’re all together again,” she said. “We all love Utica more than life itself.”

Find out more about Utica Community Schools by visiting www.uticak12.org or by calling (586) 797-1000.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at eczarnik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1058.