302 students graduate at BHS

Published 12:10 pm Friday, May 24, 2013


Three hundred and two students graduated from Bainbridge High School on Thursday night, as the Class of 2013’s graduation took place at the BHS gym.

Compared to last year, when the Class of 2012 unexpectedly had to finish their ceremony in the gym after rain poured down at Centennial Field, this year’s graduation was a smooth one by most accounts. After at least two rain-postponed graduations in recent years, school system officials decided to permanently move the event’s location to the modern, air-conditioned gym.

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The gym, built along with the new high school in 2009, was filled to its capacity of more than 2,000 people on Thursday night. In addition, more than 100 people watched the ceremony on a big-screen, closed-circuit TV set up in the BHS cafeteria nearby. Other friends and family of the graduates had the chance to watch the ceremony streamed live over the Internet at the BHS website.

“I thought everything went very smoothly,” said Dr. Fred Rayfield, superintendent of the Decatur County Schools. “The ceremony was enjoyable, and we didn’t have any issues that I’m aware of. All of the school’s parking lots were full, but I think traffic was handled very well.”

Elizabeth Lewis received the Mary Davis Pilot Award, given to the top all-around female graduate.

Clint Edmunds received the Earl Carr Gragg Award, given to 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.

Rayfield said he appreciated the partnership of the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office, Bainbridge Public Safety, school resource officers and the Georgia State Patrol in providing security and traffic control, both before and after the ceremony. In addition to directing traffic along U.S. Highway 84 in front of BHS, officers also helped allievate a potential traffic bottleneck at the intersection of Shotwell Street and College Road after graduation.


Senior speeches

Please see related article containing the transcripts of the senior speeches.

The BHS Class of 2013 was the first class to have attended the new BHS campus off U.S. Highway 84 East, from the time they were freshmen through their senior year.

Cassandra Henry, the salutatorian, made reference to that fact by quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.”

“Four years ago, we entered this wonderful facility not knowing what our future would hold or even if we would make it to this day,” Henry said. “We have emerged as true, proud graduates, and here stands the class of 2013 strong and ready to face anything that life throws at us.”

In her speech, valedictorian Madison Helms said everything that she and her classmates learned at BHS set the foundation for their future hopes and dreams. She urged her classmates to rely on their common sense to succeed in the real world.

“Sometimes, your common sense tells you the right thing to do, but we tend to over think things,” Helms said. “Not everything is a trick question. You know what the right choice is: you just have to choose it.”

Helms said every graduate should set their own definition of what it means to be successful in their lives.

“Success is what makes you happy, not what makes somebody else happy,” she said. And sometimes you can find success in an unlikely place … be open-minded and willing to change.”

Shelby Gordon, the student with the third-highest cumulative grade point average, also gave a speech, as did Caroline New, who welcomed both students and guests to the ceremony.

Taylor Strickland, who chose to read the lyrics of a popular song instead of a traditional poem, gave an artful reading of “Be Still,” an inspirational ballad by The Killers.

Others taking part were Ashley Waddell, who led a moment of quiet reflection; Larry Comerford, who led the pledge of alleigance; and Elizabeth Lewis, who sang the national anthem. Clint Edmunds and Noah Thorn presented the honor graduates.

The BHS senior choral ensemble performed “Lean on Me” during the ceremony and after all of the graduates had received their diplomas, the ensemble led the singing of the BHS alma mater, “The Purple and the Gold.”