Ralph Ansami/Daily Globe
DARIAN LEE RICHARDSON receives a gift from Gogebic County Community School teacher Lisa Tervonen Friday evening at graduation ceremonies at the St. Sebastian School gymnasium in Bessemer. Also shown, from left, are Crystal Lampart, Victoria Lautenschlager and Veronica Pulaski.
BESSEMER - Emotions ran high at Friday's Gogebic County Community School alternative education graduation ceremony at the St. Sebastian School gymnasium in Bessemer.
Not only were students choked up about graduating, but GCCS coordinator Lori Struwe broke up when she announced that Denise Schmitz-Enking, an educator for 34 years, including the past 22 with the Gogebic County program, is retiring.
"This is a tough one for me," Struwe said.
The 11 graduates presented a tearful Schmitz-Enking with yellow roses in appreciation of what she has done for them and other students throughout the years.
Class members thanked their parents and loved ones, as is customary at the small ceremony, good-naturedly ribbed their teachers, and singled out and hugged family members during the ceremony.
The 11 graduates are Josh Carlson, Paul Cote, Emily Erickson, Courtney Hartwell, Crystal Lampart, Victoria Lautenschlager, Veronica Pulaski, Travis Reder, Darian Richardson, Cord Saari and Haley Seablom.
Receiving General Educational Development certificates were Paige Avery, Austin Newland, Christopher Cox, Brittney Stella, Darrian Hull and Heather McGeshick.
Teacher Lisa Tervonen handed out class awards and Schmitz-Enking and Edwin Martinson presented diplomas.