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Maturing, overcoming obstacles and planning for the future

Grad with Grit: Aiden Bond

Comstock Park — Aiden Bond did not have an easy time during his four years of high school. 

The recent Comstock Park High School graduate persevered despite a mental health crisis his freshman year, family troubles and contracting COVID his senior year. 

He has also worked through a learning disability in math, for which he received some in-class tutoring and was allowed to take tests in a separate room for a quieter environment. 

He graduated with his class on May 17 and plans to take theater classes at Grand Rapids Community College next fall. GRCC will be his first step toward fulfilling his dream of becoming an actor and possibly living in New York City. He’s been enamored with New York since a trip there his freshman year.

Aiden Bond (far right) pictured with friends at prom 2022 with Reece Vanderveen, Owen Barnhardt and Josh McDonald (courtesy photo)

Mental Health Struggles

Despite the high point of visiting the Big Apple, however, ninth grade was a tough time for him. 

“Freshman year I wasn’t doing very well and not turning in homework. I struggled a lot with suicidal thoughts, which obviously didn’t give me a work ethic,” Aiden said. 

Thankfully he knew to ask for help and spent time at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services getting outpatient help for depression. While at Pine Rest he saw other kids who struggled from all walks of life. He learned anger management techniques and “ways I could get myself out of bad thoughts,” Aiden said.

Although somewhat embarrassed about his time away, Aiden was pleasantly surprised when upon returning to high school he was greeted by friends who said they missed him,

“It made me feel 10 times better,” Aiden said. 

He wants other students suffering from depression or other mental health conditions to know that they’re not alone.

“There’s always hope. You may think there’s no hope,” Aiden said, adding he learned many others like him have asked for and received help. He’s pleased with the progress he’s made.

Comstock Park High School graduate Aiden Bond has his sights set on college and an acting career (photo by Karen Gentry)

Pandemic Challenges 

After that freshman year experience, along came the pandemic, virtual learning and hybrid schedules. He was not allowed to see his grandmother whom he was very close to, but felt a lot better when things started opening up. He contracted COVID his senior year, requiring him to stay home for two weeks.

Aiden credits Anna Stornant, CPHS counselor, for being there in his time of need.

“She went out of her way and stopped what she was doing to talk with me,” Aiden said.

Stornant said Aiden utilized his resources, asked for help, and even retook a couple of classes.

“Aiden started out high school with less than stellar grades and a mountain of obstacles in his personal life,” Stornant said. Aiden matured and formed relationships at school and was willing to get a little uncomfortable in the name of progress, according to Stornant.

“I’m also proud to recognize that even though it took him years to decide that he is cut out for college, he’s all set to enroll at GRCC this fall,” Stornant said.

A Little Help from His Friends 

Aiden said his best friend, Reece Vanderveen, whom he has known since third grade, has helped him as well as his girlfriend, Zoe Jenks, and band director Luke Marlow. 

‘There’s always hope. You may think there’s no hope.’

– Aiden Bond, 2022 graduate

Aiden plays saxophone in the band, one of his favorite classes along with history. He’s a self-acknowledged history buff inspired by his grandfather, who was a tank driver in the Vietnam War. 

“I look at pictures of when he was in boot camp. It really piqued my interest,” Aiden said. 

Graduating from high school is somewhat bittersweet for Aiden, who said in some ways he was “not ready to go.”

“Just not being able to see everyone every day will be hard,” he said.

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Karen Gentry
Karen Gentry covers Comstock Park. She moved to the Grand Rapids area in the mid-1980s and has been a resident of Comstock Park since 2002. She understands the complexity, rewards and challenges of the teaching profession as she has five years of experience as a high school teacher at River Valley High School in Three Oaks, Mich. and St. Stephen High School in Saginaw. As a reporter for the Advance Newspapers and Mlive she covered Sparta, Kent City and Northview schools. She is happy to be a part of the great team of journalists at School News Network and writing about Comstock Park Public Schools. She is a graduate of Lake Michigan Catholic High School in St Joseph, Michigan and Central Michigan University. Read Karen's full bio

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