PHOTO STORY: Dowagiac Union graduates Class of 2024

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 3, 2024

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DOWAGIAC —  The Dowagiac community packed the Chris Taylor Alumni Field stands to see the Dowagiac High School Class of 2024 together for one last time.

102 Dowagiac Union High School seniors — decked out in caps and gowns — entered the stadium for the last time as high school students as the DUHS Class of 2024 Commencement Ceremony began.

Dowagiac Union High School principal Kelly Millin opened the ceremony with an introductory speech and Board of Education president Robert Ickes and DUS superintendent Jonathan Whan each congratulated the graduates on their special day.

“Every one of you has a talent, a gift,” Ickes said. “You may not know what that is today and I hope you find it sooner than later. But don’t give up on yourself. Life isn’t always fair, days can be long but life is short. Don’t let the hard days win.”

Following the performance of Andra Day’s “Rise Up” by the Union High School Choir, Dowagiac ‘s Salutatorian and Valedictorian — Hazel Kelly and Abbey Dobberstein  — delivered on what were their final assignments as high school students and looked back on their time as Chieftains.

Kelly was the first to speak and opened with a quote from hip-hop artist J. Cole.

“‘Nothing lasts forever but at least we got these memories.’ This was said by one of the greatest poets of all time, J. Cole. Just recently, I’ve realized how much truth those words hold in high school. I’m excited to see what all of you are able to accomplish in the near future.”

Kelly closed her speech by congratulating her classmates on a job well done.

“My advice to all of you is to appreciate the moment. It is easy to get caught up in the rush of what’s next. So remember to take time to enjoy the little things and with that I would like to say congratulations, class of 2024 and peace out, Girl Scouts.”

Dobberstein was next, wishing her classmates luck with their future plans.

“Now, it is time for us to walk the stage and get our diplomas. Well, some of you might feel happy, sad or bittersweet about that. It’s now time to start this new chapter in life. I encourage you all to take risks. Chase your dreams and find what makes you happy. So good luck and go Chieftains.”

The Union High School Band’s performance of The Lion King’s “Circle of Life” was followed by the presentation of diplomas and the movement of tassels.