News Column

Niles High School graduates 199

May 30, 2014

By Craig Haupert, Niles Daily Star, Mich.

May 30--Cody Ortiz-Leonard, one of 199 students who graduated Thursday from Niles High School, will attend Grand Valley State University this fall to study film and video production.

An attendee of the Berrien County Math and Science Center, Ortiz-Leonard said he is confident the education he received in Niles has prepared him to be successful in college.

"I feel like I'm ready for the next level," said Ortiz-Leonard, who read the names of the graduates at the commencement ceremony.

He credits his favorite teacher -- Angie Cramer -- for sparking his interest in math and science during fourth grade class at Ballard Elementary.

"She influenced me to get to where I am today -- she gave me that passion," he said.

Of the 199 members of the Class of 2014, 71 were accepted into a four-year college or university, while 95 were accepted into a community college or trade school.

Six are entering the military.

Madison Martin, president of the school's Business Professionals of America, will be pursuing a business degree at the University of Michigan.

Like Ortiz-Leonard, Martin was influenced by a Niles teacher. She said Michelle Clement showed her business could be fun in both business principals and accounting classes.

"That's why I'm studying business," said Madison, class salutatorian.

In her graduation speech, valedictorian Haley Rough told her classmates not to worry about the future because it cannot be controlled. Instead, she said, we should control what we can -- the present.

"We can control what we make of our diplomas and acceptance letters," she said. "A few years down the road, high school isn't going to be what defines us. It will be what we made of our talents and efforts.

"I will be what defined me, because we own nothing in life but that ability to define ourselves."

For the class gift, students selected the following quote from Nelson Mandela, "May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears."

The class also heard speeches from graduates Oskar Olalde and Emma Doud.


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Source: Niles Daily Star (MI)