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Determination over Depression: Future Trooper Found New Home and Career Calling

Editor’s note: This is the last of our “Grads with Grit” series about students who have overcome unusual challenges and hardships to graduate this spring. Molly Sheehan-Visser was being treated for suicidal depression at a psychiatric hospital when a nurse...

From Genocide to College, Rwandan Refugee Student Keeps Faith Strong

Editor's note: This is the seventh of a series about students who have had to overcome unusual challenges and hardships to graduate this spring. Moses Kabandana was born in Rwanda in January 1994, just before the killing started. By that June,...

Through Homelessness and Hardship, Northview Graduate Did What He Had to Do

Editor's note: This is the sixth of a series about students who have had to overcome unusual challenges and hardships to graduate this spring. Randy McCant had spent a fun July 4 weekend at a friend's cottage when he came home...

Sarah Waller: The Tech Center’s Iron Chef

Let it be said here and now – OK, so written here and now – that the raspberry patch in my back yard cannot grow fast enough, and I have a diminutive warrior of a teaching chef to blame. Her...
Wyoming student Jose Sanchez Bueso

Student Graduates after Riding Train of Death through Mexico

Editor's note: This is the fifth of a series about students who have had to overcome unusual challenges and hardships to graduate this spring. During the last day of his senior year at Wyoming High School, Jose Sanchez-Bueso completed his...

Cerebral Palsy and Learning Disability Haven’t Stopped EGR Grad

Editor's note: This is the fourth of a series about students who have had to overcome unusual challenges and hardships to graduate this spring. East Grand Rapids High School senior Rosie Accola has an easy smile and super-smart vocabulary. She...

The Supes

When there's time – and usually there's not – Dan Takens will pilot his car the 10 or 11 miles from his office at Byron Center Public Schools to one of his favorite lunchtime eateries in Eastown. It's there, often...

From the Congo to Comstock Park: Refugee to Graduate with Near-Perfect GPA in Two...

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series about students who have had to overcome unusual challenges and hardships to graduate this spring When Gloire Rubambiza arrived in Comstock Park two years ago as a refugee from Africa, high...

Graduating Senior Battles Disease with Unconventional Approach

Editor's Note: This is the second of a series about students who have had to overcome unusual challenges and hardships to graduate this spring. Alexis Hickman tells her story candidly and openly, her personality displaying a combination of youthful sparkle...

Car Crash Couldn’t Stop Him from Walking – or Marching

Editor's Note: This is the first of a series about students who have had to overcome unusual challenges and hardships to graduate this spring. Kaleb Robinson loves to play drums in the Cedar Springs High School marching band. But after...

“Typical Kid” with Movie Credits, Agents and a Screen Actors Guild Card

By most accounts, Derek Brandon is a typical kid of 15. He's a freshman at Thornapple Kellogg High School. He's growing out of his clothes, sports just a hint of acne, and likes to swim and play basketball. His mother Shannon...

Jamie Hosford: A Gentle Giant is Mourned

In the end, it was his loyalty for which he was remembered – to his faith, his family, his beloved alma maters, and to a community whose collective heart both broke and soared in celebrating the life of beloved...

Placing Students with Special Needs in Real-World Jobs

You can learn only so much inside a classroom, especially if you're a young adult with special challenges. At some point, savvy educators say, you need to bust out and immerse yourself in the real workaday world. Joe Carlon and Michael...

Giving ‘Til It Helps: Tough Upbringing Inspires a Life Devoted to Serving Children, Families

John Matias was late for our interview, but something told me to hang in there. I'm glad I did. "I'm sorry, I apologize," he said, after breaking through the door of Wealthy Street Bakery, where I sat with a cold...

Universal Forest Products Engineer John Kozal Mentors GRPS Students

When people who know John Kozal consider the touchstones of his life so far, these are the elements that rise to the surface: Driven by faith, loving father, dedicated dad, conscientious worker, long-time relationship with the Boy Scouts of...

Mr. Bill: From Student to Superintendent, and Everywhere In Between

Godwin Heights Superintendent Bill Fetterhoff gets it.  He knows what it’s like to be a principal, for instance, because he was one. He understands the challenges faced by teachers, because he was one of them, too. And he knows what it’s like...
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