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Class of 2009, We did it!

Valedictorian Reuben Arthur “Ben” Reynolds II, who was also awarded the Earl Carr Gragg Award Friday night, said the evening marks an end of an era, which is ironic that the graduation ceremonies were moved to Memorial Coliseum.

The Mary Davis Pilot Club Award winner is Lauren Rochelle Thomas, who gave the Senior speech Friday night.

Reynolds noted the Class of 2009 will be the last class to graduate from the College Street facility.

“This class determines how this high school will be remembered. So let us go out and build upon the tradition of all the classes that have graduated from this school before us, a tradition of excellence,” Reynolds said. “Let us show that here, at Bainbridge High School, the best really has been saved for last.”

Reynolds speech, which was relatively short compared to the Salutatorian Brittany Sandlin’s and Lauren Thomas’ Senior speeches, cited a poem from “The Lord of the Rings.”

“The Road goes ever on and on

“Down from the door where it began,

“Now far ahead the Road has gone,

“And I must follow if I can,

“Pursuing it with eager feet,

“Until it joins some larger way

“Where many path and errands meet,

And whither then? I cannot say.”

Reynolds said the quote seemed an apt description of events here.

“For four years, we have all been on the same road, joined as Bainbridge Bearcats on our journey to graduation,” the son of Dr. John and Jean Reynolds said. “Many have given upon this voyage of ours, but I am proud to say that 340 students have persevered, and are finally ready to receive their diplomas.”

Salutatorian, Senior speeches

Brittany Sandlin, the salutatorian and the daughter of Sue and Kenny Sandlin of Brinson, urged her fellow graduates “to never take the easy way out, but to continue to strive for success as you journey through life.”

She recounted the journey most of the BHS graduates took from one of Decatur County’s elementary schools, through Hutto or West Bainbridge middle schools and then as freshmen at BHS.

“Our academic journey has proven that life is full of difficulties; however, we are strengthened as individuals when we choose not to back down in the face of adversity,” Sandlin said.

She said the graduates “Have transformed from frightened kindergarten children who were nervous about getting our pin moved to red to honorable graduates who are on the brink of entering the real world.”

She told her fellow students, “Let’s not follow in the footsteps of others, but create a path for ourselves.”

Thomas, the daughter of Lawrence and Rochelle Thomas, gave the Senior speech. She said this graduating class is not only a milestone for those receiving their diplomas, but is making history.

The Class of 2009 is the 43rd class to graduate from Bainbridge High and the last class to graduate from the original structure.

“I am proud that tonight, my father, Lawrence Thomas, can see his alma mater that he graduated from in 1969 come together 40 years later with my own class,” Thomas said. “We have a class, unlike his, that is not separated by our differences but rather our different races, different origins and different religions reinforce the bond we have made that we are more than just a class of seniors, but we are a family that will stick together and prove to the world that we are a force to be reckoned with.”

The program

Claire Whitehead gave the moment of quiet reflection prior to the Junior ROTC presentation of colors and the Pledge of Allegiance, which was led by Christopher Franklin.

The National Anthem was sung by Leigh Mullis.

Megan Ford gave the welcome message, and ShaQuanda Carter had remarks as the class president.

Haley Rathel and Valerie Burke presented the honor graduates, which there were 75.

The senior poem was read by Kayla Godwin.

Senior choral members sang “Because You Loved Me,” which the members were in the middle of on Thursday evening when the program was stopped.

These first portions of the program were redone again Friday evening.

Top awards

Prior to the speeches and presentation of the diplomas, Reynolds was awarded the Earl Carr Gragg Award and Thomas the Mary Davis Pilot Club Award.

Selections are determined on the basis of that young man and young lady in the senior class who come nearest to showing the right spirit and good attitude; who lead clean lives; who apply themselves and try to do the best they can; and who stand for the fine and high things in life.

The awards are named after two victims of the 1946 Winecoff Hotel fire. Gragg was a BHS student and Davis was a BHS teacher.

Ceremony moved

In the middle of the Bainbridge High School’s senior choral members singing “Because You Loved Me,” the graduation ceremony Thursday night was postponed as rain drenched Centennial Field.

The Board of Education had set the ceremony to be postponed, but still keep it at Centennial Field, and then if necessary postpone it again Saturday morning.

However, Principal Tommie Howell said Friday morning that “because of the extreme uncertainties of our weather,” the graduation ceremony was moved to the coliseum.

Each senior received six tickets for their guests.