IMLAY CITY — It’s time for Imlay City High School to celebrate the academic success of their 2023 graduates. Imlay City seniors will gather one last time to celebrate their achievements and receive their high school diplomas on Sunday, June 4 at 2:30 p.m. in a ceremony at the Imlay City High School gymnasium.

Imlay City’s Top Ten students for the Class of 2023 are as follows:

The valedictorian of Imlay City High School Class of 2023 is William Keesler. William carries a 3.99046 grade point average. He is the son of Kimberly and Michael Keesler of Imlay City. William participated in varsity basketball and was team captain this year. After graduation William plans to attend Grand Valley State University to pursue a degree in sports management. He will also be a student manager for their men’s basketball team. William credits his parents as the most influential people in his life.

The salutatorian of Imlay City High School Class of 2023 is Cassandra Verellen. Cassandra carries a 4.0 grade point average. She is the daughter of Kimberly Verellen and Keith Verellen. Cassandra has played on the varsity volleyball and soccer teams for three years. She was vice president of the Imlay City International Thespian Society. She was inducted into the National Honor Society and served as secretary for one year. She has been a member of Student Council and has served on the executive board for multiple years. Cassandra played the role of Charlie Brown in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown and the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. Additionally, she served as the captain of the dance team. Cassandra has received numerous BWAC awards for her academic and athletic achievements. Cassandra plans to attend Central Michigan University to study actuarial sciences or statistics. She also hopes to stay involved in performing arts and athletics. The most influential person in Cassandra’s life is her mom. She has sacrificed so much to provide amazing opportunities for her and encourage her success.

Alexis Lenz has attained a 4.0 grade point average over her four years of high school. She is the daughter of Tiffany Lenz. Alexis has focused on her academic performance so her extracurricular activities were limited. Before heading off to college Alexis plans on taking a gap year to focus on gaining more experience regarding the real world. Eventually her plans are to study abroad in Scotland and pursue a career revolving around psychology. The most influential person in her life is her grandmother. She has raised her since day one and is the most selfless person she has ever met.

Kennedy Mitchell has earned a 4.0 grade point average. Her parents are Michelle and Chad McNaughton of Imlay City. She has played volleyball her whole life and played on the varsity team later in high school. She also volunteers as a tutor for both high school and middle school students with a variety of subjects. Kennedy’s future plans after graduation are to take a year off and explore her options. During this time though, she plans on interning in several different career fields. The most influential person in her life is her stepdad, Chad. He’s been there since day one, even though they are not blood related. and has taught her perseverance.

Rachel Smith has earned a 4.0 grade point average. Her parents are Eileen and Jeffrey Smith of Attica. Rachel recently won Best of Show for the State of Michigan in the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Contest for her acrylic painting of a mallard, while having other art projects displayed at the gallery many times; she also received Honorable Mention for the Blue Water Conference this year. Rachel’s plans are to attend Michigan State University to major in psychology. The most influential person in Rachel’s life is her old manager, Cindy. She has taught her a significant amount of useful skills with kindness and patience.

Elizabeth Lauwers has earned a 3.99072 grade point average. Her parents are Jennifer and Matthew Lauwers of Almont. During high school, she has participated in bowling, track and field, and tennis. She is a member of National Honor Society. She has been on Student Council for four years and has been vice president for two. She is a drum major for the marching band. She also attended Upbeat Drum Major Academy, the HOBY Leadership Conference, and sang in her church choir. She also made BWAC All-Academic team for tennis, track and bowling as well as BWAC All-League Honorable Mention and Team Academic All-State Honors for bowling. Elizabeth plans to attend Oakland University to study business administration and accounting. Elizabeth’s parents are the most influential people in her life. They have guided her to be successful and continue to support her.

Hannah Smith has earned a 3.91658 grade point average. She is the daughter of Eileen and Jeff Smith of Attica. Hannah has been dancing recreationally since she was three, and dancing competitively since 11. She has been awarded numerous scholarships for dance, as well as academics. She was also recognized for her dedication, passion and commitment to her studio. She also is a first year Thespian honors student. Hannah plans to attend Siena Heights University to major in psychology and one day become a therapist, counselor, or psychologist. She also plans to be on the dance team while attending college. Her dance teacher is the most influential person in Hannah’s life. She has shaped her character and is an amazing role model.

Briana Rodriguez-Kelley has earned a 3.90731 grade point average. Her parents are Alison Rodriguez-Kelley and Bayro Rodriguez-Palacios of Imlay City. During her four years here Briana has participated in Spartan Marching Band, Ski Club and Rock Club. Her plans are to attend Wayne State University to study environmental science and chemistry. Her sister, Angellica is the most influential person in her life. She looks up to her because she is intelligent, kind and always there for her.

Grace Belisle has earned a 3.88872 grade point average. Grace is the daughter of Heidi Jones of Attica. Throughout her high school career, Grace has placed 2nd at BPA Video Productions Regionals; 7th place at BPA Video Productions States; 2nd place at BPA News Broadcast Regionals; 3rd place at BPA News Broadcast States and attended BPA News Broadcast Nationals. Grace plans to attend George Mason University to get a degree in forensic sciences and then go on to attend Virginia Commonwealth University to become a forensic pathologist. The most influential people in her life are her Ed Tech teachers, Mrs. Holladay and Mr. McNulty. They have been so supportive in Grace’s decisions for the future and have truly impacted her life positively, while pushing her towards all of her goals.

Aubrey Sommer has earned a 3.87025 grade point average. She is the daughter of Diane and Robert Sommer of Imlay City. Aubrey has participated in Student Council all four years of high school and currently serves as treasurer. She is also treasurer of the National Honor Society. Aubrey is also vice president of class council. Aubrey has played varsity tennis and is an active volunteer at her church and throughout the local community. After school Aubrey plans to attend Cornerstone University and pursue a degree in education. Aubrey’s dad is the most influential person in her life as he is her number one supporter and encourages her to work hard and to do the right thing.

Editor’s note: Many thanks to Dr. Dina Tallis, Imlay City Schools Executive Director-Curriculum and Instruction, for compiling this year’s Top Ten.

A large number of schools no longer use the traditional classification of Valedictorian and Salutatorian; many other schools are moving in that same direction. At ICHS, we believe the distinction to be an important one, and one worthy of recognition. In 2007, the guidelines for qualification and selection for these distinctions were reviewed to emphasize performance on the ACT or SAT examination and to reward students for attempting the most rigorous course schedule possible. The guidelines were designed to more closely align them with those used for special distinction at the university level through the Phi Beta Kappa system. This system was also adopted by the Detroit News Scholar program and is currently used by the Blue Water Area Conference to determine its highest academic honors.