2017-05-18 / Community


This Friday, May 19, nine students from the Jack Reque Alternative High School will graduate. The students and their families will begin the celebration at 12:30 p.m. with a luncheon followed by a commencement ceremony at 2 p.m., complete with Pomp and Circumstance.

Student speakers will include Samantha DiPiazza and Britney Schuetter. The commencement address will be delivered by Mr. Aaron Payment. A high school dropout at the age of 15, Payment went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Sociology, two Master’s degrees (both Public Administration and Education Administration) and is finalizing his dissertation toward his doctorate in Educational Leadership. He plans to complete a third Master’s degree in Education Specialist by summer 2018.

In 1996, Aaron was first elected to serve his people as a member of the Tribal Board of Directors. He was re-elected in 2000. In 2004, he was elected as Tribal Chairperson, but was not re-elected in 2008 so he went back to school to complete his doctorate degree. In 2012, he was re-elected Chairperson and completed his doctoral course work. In 2016, he was successfully re-elected and plans to complete his doctorate in Educational Leadership by July of this year.

Chairperson Payment also serves as the President of the United Tribes of Michigan, Vice President of the Mid-West Alliance of Sovereign Tribes, and an Executive Officer for the National Congress of American Indians where he is co-chair of the Education Subcommittee. He is a past member of the National Advisory Council on Indian Education (a U.S. Presidential Appointment) and serves on the National Tribal Interior Budget Committee Education Subcommittee. In 2016, he served on the Negotiated Rule Making Team for the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015. Chairperson Payment has testified in Congress over 15 times. Each time he has reminded Congress of their treaty and trust responsibility toward Indian Education and the need to find solutions to the high dropout rate of American Indians.

Despite being a high school dropout, Payment has gone on to earn honors at the MAEOPP Regional TRiO Achiever (1995) and was selected as a 2015 National Trio Achiever. He credits his success to the Upward Bound Program and those guardian Angels who helped him along the way and believes in giving back. He touts TRiO sayings like, “if it’s got to be, it’s up to me” and “you have to believe to achieve!” His personal message is sure to inspire this year’s graduates.

The Jack Reque Alternative High School is under the guidance of the Manistique Area Schools Board of Education and the Jack Reque Alternative Advisory Board consisting of: Harvard Cain, Steve Latterman, Crystal Martin, Diane Stimac, Trina Nedeau, Kathy Seaman, John Shiner and Maryann Boddy. The staff, students, administration and boards would like to extend a big thank you to the Zellar family for their dedication to education. Because of them the students are able to enjoy and take pride in their new school setting.

This year’s graduates include: Samantha Jean DiPiazza, Ezekiel Jeremiah Lee, Jacob Bradley Lockhart, WIlliam Duncan MacDonald, Adam William Nortley, Joshua Robert Popour, Brent Max Schuetter, Britney Louise Schuetter, Carolyn Jo Yeip.

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