A northern Michigan kindergartner left his graduation tonight with more than just a diploma.   For the first time in months, he was able to leave his Mount Pleasant school, Renaissance Public School Academy, hand-in-hand with his dad, who just returned from Afghanistan. No matter how many times we see these types reunions, you can’t help but get emotional.   There wasn’t a dry eye in that gymnasium tonight, and you’re about to see why.

Northern Michigan’s News Leader 9& 10 News




Spencer Marshall has dreamed of attending the University of Michigan since he was in elementary school. This fall, that dream will become a reality when he begins studying mechanical engineering at the Ann Arbor school.  “I’ve had the dream of going to the University of Michigan since the sixth grade, so I’ve always been working hard with that as my end goal,” he said.

Marshall’s hard work earned him a 4.0 grade-point average and valedictorian honors at Charyl Stockwell Preparatory Academy this year. It also netted him a spot on the Daily Press & Argus’ All-County Academic Team.  After college, Marshall would like to go to work as an engineer for a major company such as one of the Detroit Three automakers. But mechanical engineering didn’t become his field of choice until his junior year in high school.  “I used to want to be a finance or business major,” he said.

He gives a lot of credit to Heather Vingsness, his Advanced Placement physics teacher and a coach on the high school’s robotics team, for fueling his interest in mechanical engineering.   “The main class I took with her was AP physics my junior year, when I still knew for sure that I wanted to be a finance major and there was nothing in this world that could change my mind about that,” Marshall said. “She really incorporated the real world into it and showed me how science affects everything around us. She just made me curious about how the world really works.”

Marshall credits his friends, teachers and coaches for always keeping him motivated to do well in school.  “They really made me who I am. Coming into high school, I was pretty small, I wasn’t very assertive, and I couldn’t lead at all. I’ll remember all of them and everything they’ve done for me,” he said.  Basketball was his favorite sport at Charyl Stockwell. He also participated in baseball, soccer and cross country. He said his parents, Ryan and Dawn Marshall of Brighton Township, encouraged him to try different things.  “We live on a lake, and I’ve been water skiing since I was 5, wakeboarding since age 6. … But once I got into high school, playing basketball and going out there and fighting with four great friends of yours is a great experience,” he said.

Link to the actual story in the Livingston Daily