High school senior graduates in three years as salutatorian

CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. -- At 17 years old, Mackenna Darling has already earned a lot of titles. Finishing high school in three years, she's preparing for graduation next and learned one more role that she will be writing about.

"I'm the biggest sports fan you'll ever meet in your life," said Darling.

She is a Cedar Springs High School senior, varsity cheerleader, full-time marketing director with Northern Mortgage Services and senior class student council vice president to name a few accomplishments.

"My cumulative GPA is 4.203," she said.

Then Thursday afternoon, she learned it was official: Darling is Cedar Springs High School Class of 2017's Salutatorian. And she has a message:

"My message is a lot about including other people because I myself have [not known] where I’ve belonged," said Darling. "It’s like trying to find a spot where you belong but still accepting other people."

Until Thursday, Darling says she was unsure if she earned this top class rank, despite her second highest GPA in her class, due to her school administration's miscommunication.

However Cedar Springs Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn told FOX 17 she is honoring policy determined during a school board meeting last spring.

Administrators decided though Darling will graduate one year early she would not be eligible for the title of her class valedictorian; however, she would still be awarded salutatorian if earned, based on her GPA. Dr. VanDuyn tells FOX 17 Darling is a "spectacular student who is truly something special," and congratulated her on her achievement.

"I want to give a speech," said Darling. "I want to be able to impact the people that I’ve been growing up with."

Until her next endeavors, Darling let us in on her key to success: "time management."

Darling is ready to tackle her goals, and hopes to be on the sidelines as a professional NFL agent.

"I love cheerleading, but I like to be on the sidelines so I can sit and watch a football game up-close," said Darling smiling. "Football is everything to me."

Darling kicks off her studies and full-ride scholarship to Davenport University in the fall.

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1 Comment

  • Jake Tapper

    Thanks FOX 17 for airing Mackennas story. Cedar Springs should be ashamed of themselves. There was no misunderstanding, Cedar Springs was not going to let Mackenna be valedictorian or salutatorian until her mother and the media got involved.