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Todd Starr holds his award plaque

Honors Night recognizes this year's outstanding alum who gave an inspiring speech to our honor students.

Honors Night not only recognized students for their academic achievements but honored someone who was once in their shoes. Todd Starr, a 1989 Otsego graduate, was named the 2024 Outstanding Alumnus and spoke to our honorees and families during the ceremony. “I’ll admit I was a bit surprised when I received a call to inform me that I was nominated to receive this year's outstanding alumnus award,” he said to the crowd. “You see I was the shy quiet kid in school who wore his hat backwards and preferred to tinker with mechanical things,” he added. 

After high school, he enrolled in Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Machining Tool program where he says he found his calling. His first job was at a Tier 1 automotive supplier working as a tool room helper. That led to a tool and die maker apprenticeship and eventually he received his Journeyman card. He was promoted to shift leader, then supervisor and ended his 30-year career as a senior tooling engineer “responsible for the design and construction of millions of dollars’ worth of metal stamping dies from all over the world,” he explains. 

“I encourage you, if you’re mechanically minded and gifted with your hands, to consider a career in the trades,” he told students. “There are a great number of employers looking for hardworking young people to train and are willing to pay for your education as well. So put your head down and push through, take it from this ‘simple tool and die maker’ great things will happen.”

After he retired, he started his own machine shop creating and designing metal work. You can even see some of his designs at Otsego Public Schools. He created the letters on the Otsego High School entrance sign and created a beautiful metal piece for our new Aquatic Center of the OAC logo. 

“I hope my words had an impact on the students and audience,” he said. “It’s important to me to share my experiences and get young people interested and excited about the possibilities that a career in the trades has to offer.” 

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