This weekend's graduation will scatter Whetstone High School seniors to the winds of change.

College beckons many; others will turn to trade schools to help shape their future. The world of work awaits some. Two are headed to the U.S. Marines and at least one will join the Navy.

Each class carves out its own distinct identity as the students work their way through four years at Whetstone, and the 2017 graduates are no exception, said counselors Nancy Hirsch and Matthew Wood.

"Strong academically," Wood said of the 215 students who will graduate June 3 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. "I would say they're well-rounded. Overall, they've had positive support from parents.

"They keep us busy."

"They've been very engaged in their futures," Hirsch said.

"We absolutely will miss them, and the ones we held their hands through the process of graduation."

A sampling of seniors -- one headed to an Ivy League school, another seeking to become a welder, and a group all bound for Denison University thanks to a partnership with the I Know I Can program at Columbus City Schools -- recently sat down to talk about their hopes for the future.

Jack Staggs will study physics at the university in Granville thanks to the Denison-Columbus Alliance Scholars program.

"I think the scholarships really made Denison a reality," he said. "Without it, that probably wasn't an option for my family."

"Without that scholarship, I wouldn't be going there," said Stephanie Jackson, another participant in the partnership. "I love that it's a liberal-arts school so I can get a well-rounded education."

She plans to major in biology.

Isabel Johnson thought she was Ohio State University-bound after graduation, but an exceptional score of 34 on her ACT widened her horizons. She'll study global affairs at Yale University.

"They're a little daunted by the traveling," she said of her parents.

Justin Daniel will further his education at the Hobart Institute of Welding Technology in Troy.

"I really like doing hands-on stuff," he said, noting welders work on everything from buildings to cars to airplanes and even tanks.

"(My parents) like how I'm pursuing a trade," he said. "It's not like a normal college, but I'm getting a good education."

Deziray Segovia plans to study nursing at Otterbein University -- something that hardly seemed in the cards five years ago when she and her two sisters were living with their mom in Texas. Moving to Columbus where her grandmother could lend a hand proved to be the boost she needed to go on with her school, Segovia said.

"I want to be a neonatal nurse down the road," she added.

Patrick "Pak" McCollum hopes to follow in the footsteps of his father, John McCollum, after he completes his degree in international studies at Denison. Before learning of the opportunity to attend Denison through the partnership, he anticipated going to either OSU or Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

"It was just an opportunity I couldn't give up," he said, noting his father works for Asia's Hope, which provides new lives for orphans in India, Cambodia and Thailand.

"I just want to continue the work my dad does."

McCollum will speak during the ceremony, along with fellow senior Maggie Prosser and Columbus City Schools board member Shawna Gibbs.

Prosser, Johnson and Staggs are valedictorians, along with Colin Martinez-Watkins, Kelly Nguyen, Michael Ray, Elena Smith, Connor Vokac, Stephanie Huynh, Ian Larabee and Vianna Luu. Callie Umbarger is the salutatorian.

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1