The first class graduated from what was known as Thornapple Kellogg Schools in 1931. Members from all classes from 1931 to 2018 were invited to attend the event. Harold Kermeen was the oldest member attending, representing the Class of 1939. The youngest members were Tony Reed and Amy Cutlip from the Class of 2015. Representatives from every decade filled the tables and enjoyed being able to connect with old friends and share a meal and memories. The TK Food Service prepared the meal.
According to information from the alumni association, the first 12th-grade graduating class in Middleville was in 1881 from what was called the Union School.
In the 1930's, the Thornapple Township country schools with the help of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation consolidated into one school district. In 1931 a building was built at 509 West Main and was called the Thornapple W.K. Kellogg Rural Agricultural School - and the first graduating class from Thornapple Kellogg Schools was in 1931.
The Alumni Association formed about two years ago. President Don Williamson told the audience one of the goals of the organization is to establish a scholarship to be awarded annually to a graduating senior. Williamson said the organization is getting close to meeting their $10,000 goal to get the fund started and he said hopes are to present a scholarship possibly by next year.
The Alumni Association has also started to recognize and honor alumni for their outstanding achievements since high school. The first awards were presented at the 2017 Homecoming football game to Robert Wenger, Class of 1950; Robert Bender, Class of 1954; Sharon Myers Schondelmayer, Class of 1955; Donald Williamson, Class of 1957; and William (Bill) Rich, Class of 1969.
At the alumni banquet, two more alumni, Don and Janet Geukes, were honored. Don is from the Class of 1958 and was honored in the areas of business and community service. He attended Michigan State University and then owned and operated Geukes Market, taking it over from his father, Chet, in the mid-1970s. He and Janet ran the business for more than 35 years. He has been honored with the 1995 Michigan Meat Association Outstanding Service Award, the 2001 Outstanding 4-H Leader Award at the Barry County Fair, the 2014 Senior Citizen of the Year from the Commission on Aging, and in 2016 the Liberty Bell Award from the Barry County Bar Association.
Janet Solomon Geukes is a graduate of the class of 1961. She was honored for her work in education and community service. She attended Western Michigan University and then taught kindergarten and first grade at TK for more than 30 years. She served on numerous educational committees. Some of her honors include the 2001 Outstanding 4-H Leader Award at Barry County Fair, 2014 Senior Citizen of the Year Award from the Barry County Commission on Aging, and 2015 Club Lamb Producer Award from the Michigan Sheep Breeders Association.
She also helped form the TK Alumni Association and was elected to serve as a trustee of the organization.
Other TKAA Board members and officers are Don Williamson, president; Randy Eggers, vice president; Cindy Riva Middlebush, secretary and historian; and Wanita Craven Huizenga, treasurer. Trustees or Janet Geukes, Kim Anders Bender, Brenda Kimmey Seifert, Jeana VanderMeulen, Amy Pelli Porter, Archie H. Gragg, Kathy Uzarski, and Denise Enyart Chamberlin.
The TKHS jazz band and Honors Choir entertained the guests prior to the meal.
Upcoming Alumni events include a June 9 TK Alumni Golf Scramble at Mullenhurst Golf Club. The event starts at 8:30 a.m. Cost is $60 per person or $240 per team. Sign up form are available at the Alumni Association Facebook Page or by calling Mullenhurst Golf Club at 269-623-8383 or Randy Eggers at 616-893-1470.
The alumni group is also planning activities for the Sept. 14, 2018 homecoming game.