LEROY – In a sea of green and white graduation gowns and many pairs of cowboy boots, 91 students in the Pine River High School class of 2012 graduated on Sunday.

The outgoing Bucks were reminded of the importance of building a strong foundation from keynote speaker, Gerald Dontje.

Retired three years ago after teaching for 30 years at Pine River High School, Dontje encouraged graduates to continue to maintain relationships with family members who will serve as the “cornerstone” of their life after high school.

“Without a strong foundation and strong cornerstone, a building will fall,” Dontje said. “Seniors, you have built that strong foundation.”

He compared life to archery, noting there are no shortcuts to take in each, and a fear of failure must be let go in order to succeed.

Valedictorian Kaitlyn Ware was one of two students to address the class.

Having been told by many that her high school years would be the “climax” of her life, Ware said she refused to believe that.

“This is not the climax of our lives,” Ware said, noting that the five percent of her life she spent in high school would not be the best part, but the beginning of the rest of her life.

The possibilities after graduation are endless, Ware said. Anything could lie in the future for the individuals in the class, including skydiving, ministering to the broken hearted, writing the next big novel or becoming the president of the United States.

“Every single one of us sitting here, not just the graduates, has passion and potential,” Ware said.

The graduating class left a gift for their school by painting encouraging words for underclassmen on a set of benches to go in the hallway of the high school. The class also donated remaining funds to two classes in the high school.

Of the 91 students who graduated, 63 will pursue higher education at a college or trade school with 17 attending Baker College in Cadillac, 14 enrolling in classes at Ferris State University in Big Rapids and the rest attending colleges and universities across Michigan.

Five seniors have enrolled in military services and 23 will enter the workforce or are undecided as to their future plans.