As the young adults exited Baldwin High School and walked onto the football field dressed in blue caps and gowns, they did so for the last time as high school students. Their family members, friends and teachers looked on as, one by one, the seniors took their seats while “Pomp and Circumstance” filled the evening air on June 27.
Hundreds of spectators packed into the bleachers on either side of the field, as hundreds more hugged the fence line and stood in shady spots under trees.
Richard Henry, the class of 2014’s salutatorian, asked his classmates to think back to September 2010, when they entered BHS as freshmen. “Remember how big this school seemed,” he said. “There were so many classes, so many upperclassmen and so many assignments. High school has demanded that we put forth the proper effort in order to progress.” Henry, who had told the Herald 11 days earlier that he hoped his speech would resonate with his classmates, said this group of graduates should be proud of their accomplishments.
Valedictorian Bryan Saggese touched on several themes in his address, but closed with the importance of staying true to oneself. “Don’t change so people like you,” he said. “Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.”
Ashley Johnson, president of the class of 2014, served as the emcee for the ceremony. She likened BHS to a home, although not one in the traditional sense. Johnson said that a home is a place where people mature, develop relationships and experience support, discipline and care. “As we continue our explorations and adventures in the various colleges throughout the country,” she said, “we will never forget where it all started. A place that many of us call home.”
As the 400-plus graduates were called in alphabetical order to receive their diplomas, cheers, whoops and the occasional air horn could be heard far and wide. Superintendent James Scannell told the departing seniors to be proud of their accomplishments, but not to lose focus.
“You have worked long and hard over countless hours to reach this point today,” Scannell said. “And although today does not offer a promise to the end of that hard work, it certainly represents an important transition along the path to independence.”