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After 13 years of school — or sometimes a little bit longer — hundreds of Holland-area students are about to earn their high school diploma.
From West Ottawa’s large class of around 500 to a class of 19 at iCademy Global, there will be plenty of celebrations for the next couple of weeks. Graduations for the class of 2017 start on Tuesday, May 23, with Holland Christian and conclude June 8 with West Ottawa’s Dunes Alternative High School.
Graduation comes just after the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information released data showing that about 61.5 percent of 2016 graduates from Michigan public high schools enrolled in college within six months of graduation, the lowest in six years. Nationally, 69.7 percent of 2016 high school graduates were enrolled in college last fall. It remains to be seen if the class of 2017 will continue or reverse that trend.
Holland Christian’s commencement will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23, at Central Wesleyan Church, 446 W. 40th St. in Holland. Holland Christian’s graduating class size tends to be around 200.
More than 90 percent of Holland Christian graduates go on to college or other advanced education opportunities. In recent years, Holland Christian grads have pursued college education all over the country, from Michigan schools like Calvin College, Cornerstone University and Central Michigan University to schools in other states like the University of Chicago, Indiana University and the University of New York.
Fennville High School’s commencement will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 25, at Fennville High Shool, 4 S. Memorial Dr. Fennville’s graduating class this year is 103, and 63 of them will be first-generation college students this fall. The class earned a combined $700,040 in scholarships, $127,640 of which came from local scholarships like the Fennville Education Foundation.
Last year, 60.9 percent of Fennville grads were enrolled in college six months after graduation. According to data from the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information, the most popular college choices for Fennville students are Lake Michigan College, Grand Rapids Community College, Western Michigan University, Grand Valley State University and Albion College.
Hamilton High School’s commencement will be held at 7 pm. on Thursday, May 25, at Hamilton High School, 4911 136th Ave. Hamilton will be graduating 180 students this year. The alternative high school Pioneer Tech will be graduating 25, the largest class yet for the seven-year-old school.
About 57 percent of Hamilton grads were enrolled in college six months after graduation last year. Hamilton grads tend to choose GRCC, Davenport University, GVSU, Ferris State University and Baker College.
Saugatuck High School’s commencement will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 25, at Saugatuck High School, 401 Elizabeth St.
Saugatuck has the highest graduation rate of Holland-area schools, hitting 96 percent last year. Within six months after graduation, 49 percent of them were enrolled in college.
Saugatuck students tend to favor GVSU, GRCC, Northern Michigan University and CMU. Last year’s class had a few students venturing out of state to Colorado Mountain College, Trine University and Fort Lewis.
West Ottawa High School’s commencement will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 25, at West Ottawa High School’s north campus, 3685 Butternut Drive in Holland. The commencement for the district’s Dunes Alternative High School will follow at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 8, at West Ottawa’s south campus, 3600 152nd Ave.
West Ottawa graduating classes are the largest in the area, with an average of 500 and hitting a record 580 with the class of 2015. West Ottawa also boasts a high number of first-generation college students, with 180 in last year’s graduating class.
Last year, 57.9 percent of grads overall were enrolled in college within six months, with 61.1 percent from the high school and 6.5 percent from Dunes. West Ottawa students tend to choose GRCC, GVSU, Michigan State University, Hope College and WMU.
Holland High School’s commencement will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 30, at DeVos Fieldhouse, 222 Fairbanks Ave. Holland VR Tech will graduate the following week on Monday, June 5, at Ridgepoint Community Church, 340 104th Ave.
This year’s Holland High class consists of 229 graduates, and 71 of them are first-generation college students. The class has earned a combined $280,038 in scholarships and garnered about $3.8 million in financial aid.
The class also includes 36 graduates of Holland Early College. After graduation, 19 students in the senior class at Holland Early College will continue their journey into a 13th year, finishing their college coursework and graduating from Muskegon Community College next year with their associate’s degree.
“These 19 students have successfully completed 568 college credits (collectively) in just the past two years — with a cumulative 3.1 college GPA — in addition to completing their high school graduation requirements, all the while balancing part time jobs, sports, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and family obligations,” Early college director Andrea Mehall said. “Five of these 19 have cumulative college GPAs above a 3.6. We’re very proud.”
Last year, 48.3 percent of grads overall were enrolled in college within six months, with 54.1 percent from the high school and 3.3 percent from VR Tech. The most popular college choices for Holland Public students are GRCC, GVSU, Hope College, MSU and the University of Michigan.
Zeeland West High School’s commencement will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31, at Zeeland Stadium, 9990 Riley St. in Zeeland. In case of rain, the ceremony will be moved to the ZWHS gym at 3390 100th Ave.
This year’s class has 193 graduates, and 16 have a GPA of 4.0 or higher.
Last year, 61.4 percent of Zeeland West gradss were enrolled in college in six months. Zeeland West students favor GRCC, GVSU, Ferris State, Hope and WMU.
Calvary Schools of Holland
Calvary Schools of Holland’s commencement will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31, at Calvary Baptist Church, 517 32nd St. in Holland. Calvary Schools of Holland graduating classes tend to be between 20 to 30 students.
More than 90 percent of the graduates go on to college to places like GRCC, GVSU, Hope, Spring Arbor University, Indiana Wesleyan University and Cedarville University.
Zeeland East High School’s commenecement will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 1, at Zeeland Stadium. In case of rain, the ceremony will be moved to the ZEHS gym at 3333 96th Ave.
This year’s class has 216 graduates, and 25 have a GPA of 4.0 or higher.
Last year, 73.6 percent of Zeeland East were enrolled in college in six months. Zeeland East students gravitate towards GVSU, GRCC, Cornerstone University, Hope and Ferris State.
Black River Public School’s commencement will be at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 2, at Christ Memorial Church, 595 Graafschap Road in Holland.
In order to graduate, Black River students must be accepted by a four-year college or university. The class of 2017 will have plenty of help paying for that college education: Black River head of school Shannon Brunink said the class of 76 students has earned a combined $6.4 million in scholarships.
Last year, 82.2 percent of grads were enrolled in college within six months. Black River students tend to attend GVSU, Hope, GRCC, MSU, Ferris State and U-M.
ICademy Global will graduate its fourth class at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, June 5, at City on a Hill, 100 Pine St. in Zeeland. Of the 19 students graduating, six of them are graduating early.
Last year, 46.2 percent of graduates were enrolled in college in six months. Fitting with their independent nature, iCademy Global students tend to have a varied college track. Last year saw grads attend Spring Arbor University, GVSU, Indiana Wesleyan University at Marion, Alma College, Casper College and Grace College.
— Follow this reporeter on Twitter @SentinelErin.