• To Xavier Hack, a senior at Traverse City West Senior High School who is set to graduate Sunday — and is an advocate for himself and others living with autism.

Hack said his brain “just thinks of things differently” — sometimes good, sometimes not so good.

“I can carry myself to a whole other place,” Hack said. “I have to admit that I’ve faced some challenges in the past, but my goal is to stand up for whatever I believe in and not be afraid to put myself out there and say how I really feel.”

“Xavier is an eternal optimist. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a mean word come out of his mouth — about anyone,” Hack’s mother Holly said. “He’s the kindest, nicest soul I’ve ever met.”

  • To Tyler Prichard, the former Traverse City St. Francis left-hander who made the baseball team at Army, which opened up the 2021 NCAA Division 1 Tournament Friday against No. 8 Texas Tech.

Prichard tried out for the Black Knights as a freshman in 2020, but didn’t make the cut in a season that barely got off the ground because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He approached Army head coach Jim Foster about what he needed to do in order to make the team in his second tryout the following fall.

“Prichard has come a long way,” Foster said. “He showed up this year and as a coach you’re always looking for someone who can get righties out and lefties out, who can get both out. So we dropped Prich down and he bought in from the first time we told him to drop his arm slot and do different things. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do and as the season’s gone along, he’s got more and more opportunity to to get lefties out and he’s done a heck of a job.”

  • To Marguerite Cotto, who is set to retire after 40 years at Northwestern Michigan College.

Cotto began her career at NMC quite by accident. She had just moved to Michigan from her native Puerto Rico armed with an undergraduate degree in soils. She envisioned working in soil conservation or agriculture, but a friend said the college had an unexpected vacancy and needed someone to teach an evening Spanish class. So she did.

Since then she’s moved up the ranks and at the end of December will retire as the vice president for lifelong and professional learning. Her work includes non-traditional offerings at the college, such as extended educational services, workforce training, the aviation program and the marine technology center.

“Marguerite has probably done as much as anyone to advance innovation at the college over the last 40 years,” NMC President Nick Nissley said.

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