380 graduate – largest in BHS

Published 5:41 pm Friday, May 20, 2011

NOW THEY ARE BHS GRADUATES! Members of the record-breaking Class of 2011 throw their caps in the air after they were presented by Bainbridge High School Principal Tommie Howell.

The largest graduating class of Bainbridge High School’s history had an estimated 380 graduates walking across Centennial Field on Thursday night, forcing the audience to spill over onto the visitor’s side of the stadium.

Tanner Harrell gave the moment of quiet reflection that included a mention of Jessica Alexander, who died in an automobile accident on April 6. A chair was left empty, and it was draped with her robe and a cluster of plastic yellow roses were placed in the neck of the robe. Her name was also read along with the other graduates, and all the graduates wore a small angel emblem on their purple and gold gowns in her honor.

Senior choral member Aleshia Samuel sang the National Anthem, while all the senior choral members sang “I’ll Be There.”

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Valedictorian Sam Slaughter told his classmates that school has been the constant in their lives, and now that will all change for most graduates—for those going to college, joining the military or entering the work force.

“For the past 12 years, we have always had a constant in our lives, school. For good or bad, if we wanted it or not, it was always there,” Slaughter said.

“Wherever life takes us beyond this field tonight, of one thing I am certain. We will succeed. Many difficult challenges lie ahead of us. We must face them all in stride and learn to ignore the stresses of everyday life,” he said. He then recounted how he almost lost his life because he fell on an arrow.

“This arrow nearly claimed my life a few years ago, but now I have a greater appreciation for life and how to take advantage of the time that God has granted me. When compared to the endangerment of your life, every-day challenges such as typing that essay just right, getting to work on time, or being unable to buy that new outfit, don’t seem quite so important. So ignore the small stuff, fix the big stuff and get on with enjoying your life.”

Ellie Thomas, the salutatorian, fondly recalled the cartoon character Mrs. Frizzle, who led her class on extreme field trips.

“In these times of uncertainty, Mrs. Frizzle would always act on her motto: ‘Take chances, make mistakes and get messy.’”

Recounting memories of the transitioning from middle school to the old high school on College Street and then to the new high school on U.S. 84 East, Whitney Poppell’s senior speech talked about those tales.

“Not only did we encounter memorable teachers, most of us made friends that we hope will last a lifetime. These friends were the ones who were there in good times, and helped us through the bad times,” Poppell said. “As we continue on with our lives, we will drift away from most of the friends we spent our high school years with. But we should always remember the times that we shared and those times we will never forget.”

Berenis Magana Lopez was the winner of the Mary Davis Award for the top all-around female graduate. She was selected by BHS faculty.

Class President Tyrone Jacobs won the Earl Carr Gragg Award as the top all-around male graduate.

The awards are named in memory of a teacher and student who died in 1946 in the Winecoff Hotel fire in Atlanta while on a school trip to Y Club Youth Assembly.

TOP GRADUATES ARE, from the left, Earl Gragg Award winner and Class President Tyrone Jacobs, Mary Davis Award winner Berenis Magana Lopez, valedictorian Sam Slaughter and salutatorian Ellie Thomas. Behind is BHS Principal Tommie Howell.

STANDING BEFORE AN OVERFLOWING crowd at Centennial Field are, from the left, Chelsea Wooden, Aesha Worthy and James Zackery.

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