REED CITY \u2013 After losing two teachers during the course of their high school career, the Reed City High School class of 2012 graduated with encouragement to live every day to the fullest. Beginning with a moment of silence in honor of Angelin Pontz, a teacher who passed away in September, 109 graduates received their diplomas at the school's graduation ceremony Friday. Rachel Burke, one of the school's six senior scholars addressed her class by reading a poem "The Dash," encouraging her classmates to make the dash between the dates on their tombstones matter. "Think about this long and hard. Are there things you'd like to change? Because you never know how much time is left that could still be rearranged," Burke said in her speech. Daniel Boyer, president of the Reed City School Board, said he saw something in the class of 2012 that he rarely saw elsewhere - passion. Boyer complimented athletes in the class who were victorious over opponents when the odds weren't in their favor. "You guys beat them because of the size of your heart and the fire in your belly," Boyer said. He encouraged the class to keep that fire alive as they leave high school. Todd Battle, a 1994 graduate of Reed City High School, was honored with the 2012 Distinguished Alumni award. In his address to graduates, he encouraged them to take the road less travelled, not be afraid to take credit for their actions and embrace change in a complex world. Battle, the president of a business alliance in Wisconsin and uncle of graduate Jordyn Mason, said he first learned the importance of living life with no excuses from his freshman football coach at Reed City High School. The Distinguished Alumni shared words of advice and encouragement, many of which he learned through experience. \u201cIt is not the critic who counts. It is not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better,\u201d Battle said, quoting Theodore Roosevelt. \u201cThe credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marked by dust and sweat and blood.\u201d For graduate Courtney Bennett, those words hit home. After having a son, Caden, during her junior year of high school, Bennett gave up playing her favorite sport among other things, to take responsibility of caring for her son while finishing her high school career. \u201cI thought (Battle\u2019s speech) was great. It shows that it takes dedication to get where you want to in life,\u201d Bennett said. She plans to move to Cadillac and pursue a nursing degree at Baker College while raising her now 14-month-old son. Before directing graduates to move their tassle to the other side of their cap, Principal Tom Antioho gave his final words to the class of 2012. He told them to learn to laugh and to cry and never waste a time to tell someone they love them. "It's been a humbling experience to be the principal of this graduating class." Students left the gymnasium to the tune of "If Today Were Your Last Day."