Experiencing Northern Michigan: Behind the Scenes at Crystal Mountain with the Best of the Class of 2019

Each year during graduation season, 9&10 News honors Northern Michigan’s top graduating high school seniors for a celebratory day of their accomplishments, an event called the Best of the Class. Students and their families gather together for a relaxing afternoon that includes lunch, a promotional video shoot, and an awards ceremony where guest speakers give advice, offer words of encouragement, and honor each individual student, recognizing their hard work and dedication to both their studies and their communities.

Nominated by the principals of high schools around Northern Michigan, students selected for the Best of the Class take part in this special ceremony held annually at Crystal Mountain in the heart of Benzie County. Located about 45 minutes west of Cadillac in Thompsonville, Crystal Mountain is an awesome venue, with a nice indoor space and lots of beautiful outdoor space, too. This year’s event took place on May 15, and we lucked out with incredible weather—clear blue skies (perfect for a drone shoot)!

For the second year in a row, I got to work this fun event as part of the Mane Content video production team. From a behind-the-scenes perspective, the Best of the Class is one of my favorite shoot days of the year. I love getting to be outside almost all day, especially when the weather’s as beautiful as it was this year. With lunch provided by the catering team at Crystal Mountain, the #boc2019 event was organized perfectly, and the day went so well. If you’re interested, check out 9&10 News’ recap of the 2019 Best of the Class ceremony. 

The drone shoot was definitely the highlight of the day—and sunshine sure helped! It’s been tradition to get an iconic shot of all the students, in their caps and gowns, lined up together to form the two-digit year of their graduating class. This year, the students formed the number 19 for the Class of 2019, and videographer Michael Dicken recorded a birds-eye view drone shot as the students tossed their caps in the air. He later edits this shot into the final commercial that airs on TV!

A true feel-good event that celebrates driven young people from all across Northern Michigan, the Best of the Class ceremony recognizes top performers from all around the area for their impressive achievements, honoring students with a day just for them and their families. This uniquely local event also gives students an opportunity to celebrate their great accomplishments alongside their talented peers from other regional schools. Plus, each student gets to go home with a commemorative medal and special certificate to honor their accomplishments.

One of the coolest perks is definitely getting to be in a TV commercial, especially one with a drone! Students and their families also heard encouraging remarks from event sponsor Mercantile Bank of Michigan as well as a heartfelt, poignant message from 9&10 News anchor David Lyden, who served as the emcee. David shared his own personal story about growing up in a small Northern Michigan town, graduating from Fairview High School, and the journey from there that eventually led him to where he is today—behind the anchor desk covering the news on live TV for Northern Michigan’s News Leader.

Speaking of leaders, Future Leaders is another annual event 9&10 News sponsors to support area high school students who are community leaders and role models for young people in Northern Michigan. Both Future Leaders and the Best of the Class—in addition to countless other community events Up North—are made possible by each event’s proud sponsors and by 9&10’s stellar Marketing and Promotions team. Thank you to them and to the generous sponsors, and congrats to this year’s Best of the Class and to all the Class of 2019 graduates out there! Your future is just commencing, and the change to come will be as awesome as your imagination dreams it up to be.

Cheers to Northern Michigan’s Best of the Class of 2019! They are: Jakob Abraham, Jenny Appledorn, Bruce Banks, Trinity Bauer, Emily Bluck, Hallie Brink, Kamryn Cushway, Katharine Daniels, Kevin Dickinson, Eleanora Dyer, Brandon Falkenberg, Kylah Fischer, Maddie Fishel, Caroline Freel, Jesus Galvez, Logan Gerow, Eleri Giem, Megan Gould, Kiley Graham, Sandra Graham, Madison Grover, Lingxiao Guan, Evelyn Hedberg, Amanda Humphrey, Kasidee Hunt, Kenzie Keith, Parker Kirwin, Samuel Lowery, Decter Lynch, Wyatt Minor, Alex Netzley, Tyler Neuman, Alussa Nichols, Jack Owens, Madelyn Pcardat, Spener Pnacek, Katie Reman, Connor Riley, Bailey Ross, Charlee Schaeger, Kaitlyn Schaub, Cheyenne Scott, Kylea Shankleton, Samantha Somers, Tim Stoldt, Joseph Stout, Alexa Strand, Jeremy Styma, Samuel Tuscher, Lily VanBrocklin, Wilson Vrieze, Mary Wendlowsky, Samantha Wicker, and Hunter Wojciechowski.

If it’s been a minute since you’ve graduated, think back to your own commencement. Remember how you felt, how nervous, uncertain, and excited you were for the future. Remember how you had everything ahead of you—you still do! What advice might you give the Best of the Class of 2019 as they begin their journeys into young adulthood? What advice would you tell your younger self if your present self could impart some wisdom?

Congratulations, graduates, and happy (almost) summer!

Categories: Experiencing Northern Michigan, the four