COOR Education Center faculty and staff hold impromptu graduation ceremonies
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Crawford, Oscoda, Ogemaw, and Roscommon (COOR) Education Center students could not have a graduation due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures, so the graduation was brought to them last week.
Faculty and staff along with Troopers from the Houghton Lake Post of the Michigan State Police, Frederic Fire Department firefighters, and Sgt. Shon Chmielewski from the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office hosted a graduation celebration for Travis Hunter on Wednesday, June 17.
The graduation for Hunter was held in the parking lot of the Hilltop Restaurant in Waters.
Hunter was a Graying resident before he moved to a rural area in Frederic.
“It’s pretty peaceful there,” he said.
A procession of busses and over a dozen cars were part of the ceremony. Emergency vehicles sounded their sirens and honked their horns.
Mary Kleinert, a teacher at the COOR Educational Center, served as the master of ceremonies.
“Travis, I’m so proud to see the man you have become,” she said. “You’re kind, you have good manners, you’re a hard worker, you’re dependable and responsible, and you have a great sense of humor.”
Kleinert said Hunter will continue cross country skiing for Special Olympics, enjoys outdoor activities, loves playing video games with his friends, and is an avid Star Wars fan.
Hunter has attended the COOR Educational Center since 2002. He is an employee at the Sunny Spot Marathon Roscommon, which is owned and operated by the Grayling based Fick and Sons, Inc.
Hunter completed his studies through the COOR Educational Center’s Adult Transition Program this year.
He was recognized by faculty and staff, first responders, and fellow students on hand. He was also given his certificate of completion.
“Travis is a great young man,” said Brent Cryderman, the principal and executive director for the COOR Educational Center. “One of things we’re most proud about is getting our students employed and Travis has a job working for Fick and Sons. We love to see our students in the workforce.”
Travis was surprised by the impromptu graduation ceremony.
“This is so unexpected, but it’s awesome to be able to celebrate a graduation in the middle of this,” he said. “It’s pretty fun, and it’s pretty much a great time in my lifetime to graduate. I’m ready to move on, better my life, and hope I make it through the future.”
Hunter was given gifts, presents, and cards, and a can of Silly String to spray.
His father, Robert Hunter, was elated by the turnout and show of support for Travis.
“It’s amazing what they do for these kids,” he said.
The procession of busses and vehicles traveled to Mio and West Branch to recognize other graduates.
“We just wanted to give them time to celebrate with their family, give them gifts, and try to make it as normal as possible,” Cryderman said.
The ceremonies also marked the end of an era for Kleinert, who taught at the COOR Educational Center for over 30 years.
“She’s just a magnificent human being and she’s poured her life into these young people,” Cryderman said.
Shawn Petri, the superintendent for the COOR ISD, said the graduation ceremonies were a good break from the conference calls and e-mails from state leaders who are developing procedures for educators for the future due to the pandemic.
“It’s great to have events like this so we can reacclimate to what we’re here for,” Petri said.