BHS and GCA Graduation: Congratulations to the Class of 2023!

Published 9:19 am Wednesday, May 24, 2023

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Family and friends gathered at both Bainbridge High School and Grace Christian Academy over the weekend, to celebrate this year’s graduating class, the Class of 2023, taking the next step in their lives.

Grace held their graduation ceremony first on Friday night, honoring the school’s 16 graduating seniors.

This year’s Valedictorian was Ben York, with the Salutatorian being Anisa Patel.

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“As students and friends, we have made many memories together, many good and some bad, most of which we can now look back upon and laugh,” York said in his Valedictorian address. “We went through a lot during our time at Grace. We often clashed over what some might call trivial situations… But despite this, our class has always been quick to offer a helping hand to anyone in need.” York concluded his speech with three rules for life: “1. If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. 2. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. 3. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”

Patel expressed gratitude in her Salutatorian address, saying, “I would like to show my appreciation for the ones who have made this possible for all of us. To all our teachers, thank you for inspiring our creativity and empowering us with tools that helped influence who we are today. Thank you for always being there for us when we needed it… I also want to say a heartfelt thank you to my classmates who have become my family.”

Additionally, Danimer’s Michael Smith was the ceremony’s guest speaker, while Lt. Colonel Peter Dominicis made a special presentation during the ceremony, presenting York with his appointment to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado.

As for the BHS graduation the following day, Valedictorian Thomas Spooner addressed the crowd. “It has been a long journey, but very well worth it, and I’m pleased to see this immense amount of support for the class of 2023,” he stated. In his speech, Spooner encouraged his classmates to not fear failure. “At some point, probably in Kyle Kelley’s AP Chemistry class, I discovered this concept,” he said, “the concept that you can do everything you tell yourself you can do, and nothing you tell yourself you cannot do. The principle that you can be your biggest motivator, supporter, or your biggest obstacle. I learned that every time I doubted myself and told myself I would fail, surprise surprise, I failed. But when I believed in myself and gave whatever the task was everything I had to offer, though failure cannot be completely eliminated, it was substantially decreased.”

Salutatorian Brennyn Timmons summarized the theme of her speech in four words: “Encouragement, resilience, kindness, and gratitude.” Timmons went on to share an emotional memory about the late principal Roy Matthews. “He was encouraging me to keep reaching for my goal of being valedictorian. He encouraged me to keep working hard and if I did, I could achieve my goal,” she said. “He also told me to make sure that I thanked my principal when I gave my speech! Well Mr. Roy, I ranked number two but I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your words of encouragement…..for believing in me and for having such a positive impact on every person in this room. You are missed.”

Whether Bearcat or Cougar, congratulations and good luck to the Class of 2023!