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Marking a milestone

Photos by Dianne Carroll Burdick

Thornapple Kellogg — Teachers and their second- and third-grade students recently lined the main hallways of Lee Elementary school, eagerly awaiting a visit from the Thornapple Kellogg High School graduating seniors.

Some students had made hand-drawn signs for older siblings, while others could barely stand still in all the excitement. 

A line of those in black caps and gowns soon filled the open space, and applause erupted for the class of 2022. 

From left, seniors Lily Foy, Lane Kaminski and Alison Purdum walk the halls of their elementary school days before their graduation
After walking the halls of their former elementary school, the senior class of 2022 revisited their youth on the playground
Lee Elementary third-graders Annaisa Montano, left, and Gracelynn Gould celebrate the graduating seniors during their senior walk

The annual senior walk began at Thornapple Kellogg Middle School, then stopped at McFall, Lee and Page elementaries to walk the halls, greet former teachers and celebrate their achievement.   

The parade ended at the high school, where seniors gathered for a sendoff lunch and to open time capsules they made in sixth grade. 

The sealed envelopes contained letters from parents, goals written to their future selves, and class projects and assignments.

Senior Abby Marcukaitis opened her time capsule to find a sixth-grade class photo and “getting to know you” sheet she wrote about herself, her hobbies and her friends. 

Thornapple Kellogg High School seniors walk the halls at Lee Elementary, cheered on by second- and third-graders

Abby’s mom, Kris Marcukaitis, also attended the walk to cheer on her daughter and watch her practice walking across the stage in front of her class. Abby’s twin brother will graduate from West Michigan Aviation Academy the same day and time, so Marcukaitis wanted to see both her kids walk. 

“I’m really proud of these seniors,” Marcukaitis said. “They’ve endured a lot through the pandemic; they sacrificed things and toughed it out to get where they are now.”

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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