RCS bids farewell to 2021 seniors

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published June 24, 2021

 A senior from Stoney Creek High School poses for a photo after walking  across the stage at DTE Energy Music Theatre June 12.

A senior from Stoney Creek High School poses for a photo after walking across the stage at DTE Energy Music Theatre June 12.

Photo provided by Rochester Community Schools

 Rochester High School students perform one last time together June 12.

Rochester High School students perform one last time together June 12.

Photo provided by Rochester Community Schools

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ROCHESTER/ROCHESTER HILLS/OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — After a year of ups and downs while attending in-person, hybrid and remote school during a global pandemic, the graduating seniors in the Rochester Community School District were thrilled to have a traditional sendoff.

RCS seniors SooDong Kim, Stephanie Glaspie and Marena Haidar all served on their schools’ student councils and were part of the committee that planned graduation, which was initially going to be celebrated with a drive-thru ceremony.

“When (the district) asked for feedback from the parents and students, they realized that wasn’t what we wanted,” Glaspie explained. “They were always looking out for (our) best interest.”

On June 12, seniors from Adams, Rochester and Stoney Creek high schools were celebrated with their family members, teachers and peers as they walked across the stage at DTE Energy Music Theatre during three separate commencement ceremonies.

Kim, a senior at Adams, said he can’t believe his educational journey at RCS has ended. Kim has been with the district since he was in preschool and said his time with RCS has been “a wonderful experience.”

“When I went to middle school, I would always want to go back to elementary school; when I was in high school, I would always want to go back to middle school; and now that I’ve graduated, I just want to go back to high school,” he said.

Completing high school in the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge, and it’s one that Kim will never forget.

“I came to learn that there needs to be a separation between work and home life,” he said. “Having those two environments intermixed was just mentally exhausting, and on top of that, not seeing friends and not having a personal connection (was tough).”

Rochester Community Schools, he said, provides “a lasting connection” between students, teachers, staff and administrators.

“Those connections are so valuable,” he said.

Kim is headed to Cornell University, where he plans to major in biology and minor in Spanish on the pre-medical track. He was accepted as a diver on the school’s swim and dive team.

Glaspie, a senior at Rochester High, said the pandemic taught her class how to “be adjustable and resilient,” and she said she was appreciative that her teachers continued to make connections with students during remote learning.

“I think that the teachers, administrators and staff are what makes the RCS community amazing and what makes all of our memories here so fond,” she said.  

Glaspie was also happy that the district was able to find safe ways to host various events for seniors — like Charity Week and Senior Sunrise.

“I’m walking out with all of the academic knowledge that is a good part of the RCS community, but I’m also just walking out with the memories, like going on field trips and having those opportunities where you go into a classroom where you like the teacher a lot,” she said. “For me, I liked AP U.S. history because the teacher was amazing.”

Glaspie is attending the Honors College at Michigan State University this fall and plans  to major in engineering.

Haidar, a senior at Stoney Creek, is proud of her class for persevering throughout the pandemic.

“I’m so proud to be part of the senior class and how resilient we were — in applying for college and pushing through and getting good grades while still trying to find things that motivated us outside of school. I am so proud of all of us, and it’s been so amazing to watch,” she said.

Haidar is attending Michigan State University’s Lyman Briggs College this fall and plans to major in neuroscience on the pre-medical track.

“I think some of my fondest memories of my past time at RCS would be anything that I did to create an impact or form connections with other peers, teachers and staff. I really value human connection and other people and their thoughts,” she said.

Haidar said RCS does “a great job” of presenting opportunities to all different students — whether they are motivated in academics, the arts or sports.

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