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Academic Decision Day ‘Sends the Right Message’

Seniors Recognized for Making College Commitments


Anyone who knows high school knows about college decision day, when senior athletes make a show of signing with a college sports team.

Alyssa Rector, Donovan Crandall and Bobby Carpenter know what it’s like to see the logo of their future alma mater flash on a big screen, to walk amongst their classmates and take the stage as the fight song plays.

Thing is, all three chose their intended institutions based not on their athletic prowess and promises of first-string starting positions, but because of their academic goals. And their district honored them for it, as well as 69 others, with an Academic Decision Day.

“It was encouraging to be up there,” Bobby said. “I remember looking out at my classmates and thinking, ‘This is the chapter of the book I will be closing, and pretty soon I’ll be starting the next one.'”

Bobby will start the next chapter just a few days after his graduation open house. That’s when the Kent Career Tech Center mechatronics program student starts a paid summer internship at Lacks Industries, where he will be working in the field that he intends to be his academic focus at Lake Superior State University.

Academic Decision Day, in its third year at the high school, was implemented in Comstock Park by counselor Carolyn Bolthouse, who got wind of other U.S. high schools that were doing it.

“One of the most rewarding portions of our jobs as school counselors is to help launch students into their post-secondary paths,” Bolthouse said. “This has been a great way to celebrate their four years here and their future plans.”

‘Proud to Go Up There’

This year’s Decision Day honored the 72 students who had already committed to a college or university, as well as to a post-secondary training or military service. Last year there were 65 honored, and 69 in 2015.

“It sends the right message,” said high school Principal Steve Gough. “I’ve coached a lot of athletes over the years, and the vast majority of them are making money now not in their sport but with their academic degrees.”

Gough said banners of group shots of all past Academic Decision Day honorees will be hung throughout the school, so future seniors know it’s an event they all can take part in.

“We should be recognizing these students for their planning, and for the hard work and commitment to learning that got them to make the decision on what comes after high school,” he said.

Alyssa Rector, who will be enrolled at Aquinas College this fall as a nursing program major, said of the event, “You’re just proud to go up there.”

It was a proud day as well for Donovan Crandall, whom Bolthouse encouraged to accept a hefty financial aid package to attend Grand Rapids Community College.

“My family can’t afford college at all,” Donovan said, “so just being up there, with all those people I’ve been with for so many years, I was smiling the whole time.”

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills and Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.

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