BALDWIN — With pride, excitement and nervous anticipation, Baldwin seniors stepped up to the podium to announce their future plans to a room full of cheering support from community members, family, school staff and underclassmen during 2018 Decision Day.

The first note played by Baldwin High School band during the ceremony signaled the 34 graduating seniors' entrance to the high school gym, where school officials and speakers lavished words of support and congratulations for their future endeavors.

"Welcome to the annual Decision Day. We are excited for seniors as they enter the next phase of their life, and we support them all the way," said Baldwin Junior and Senior High Principal Calvin Patillo.

Family members of the graduating seniors were asked to stand for recognition.

"We celebrate these seniors as they take the next step," Promise Zone Coordinator Duane Roberts said as he addressed the audience. "In October, they were filling out college applications and applying for FASFA  (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The Baldwin Promise Authority is looking to make sure the promise is in place for a better Baldwin not just for yesterday and today, but for future generations that come along. If you work hard enough, you can go to college and succeed, and we are going to help take down financial barriers."

One by one, students stepped up to the podium to announce their future plans. Schools such as Ferris State University, Michigan State University, West Shore Community College, Michigan Career and Technical Institute were named among educational institutions Baldwin seniors plan to attend to begin the next phase of their life. Some students shared plans to enter trades such as construction and continue family businesses. A couple students announced plans to join the armed forces.

Following the seniors' announcements, Deborah Smith-Olson, chairperson of the Baldwin Promise Zone Authority, introduced guest speaker Dr. David Eisler, president of Ferris State University.

"I want to encourage these seniors to dare to dream and go beyond the impossible," he said. "Make a difference. Education encompasses much more than personal success. Well-rounded education helps create empathy for others. Let your life be an example of where you make a difference. Finally, never give up."

Superintendent Stiles Simmons offered closing remarks.

"Thank you to everyone who made this day possible," he said. "Most importantly, I want to thank our graduating seniors for getting to this point. I wish you the best and love you all."