Passing the torch

BCS holds annual Candlelight and Senior Awards Ceremony

BALDWIN – As the Baldwin Community Schools Class of 2014 approached the day of their graduation, they gathered with students, faculty and staff, family members and the community to pass the torch on to the next graduating class.

On Thursday, BCS celebrated its graduating seniors during the annual Candlelight and Senior Awards Ceremony. The ceremony features a symbolic candlelight gesture, but also celebrates and gives public recognition to the awards and scholarships the Class of 2014 earned.

As the ceremony began, BCS Superintendent Stiles Simmons welcomed the parents and BCS staff in the audience and thanked them for coming to acknowledge and celebrate the Class of 2014.

"Parents and family members, I know for many of you the past 13 years has been a tremendous journey," Simmons said. 

"As parents in your child’s education, you have experienced many ups and downs, highs and lows, challenges and triumphs along the way. That’s why I know you are sitting here today filled with pride, joy, and let’s be honest, a sense of relief."

Simmons then commended the students on what they accomplished. Ninety-five percent of this year's graduates were accepted to either a two-year college, four-year university or the armed forces, which drew applause as Simmons announced it.

"Combined, (graduates) have received a total of $89,600 in scholarships," Simmons said. "That also deserves round of applause.

Simmons ended his remarks by saying the district is proud of the graduates' accomplishments and are excited for their futures.

"We know the sky is the limit for this group of graduates," Simmons said. "We expect that they will apply the academic and life lessons learned from their teachers, principals and parents to make the right choices as men and women of distinction."

Following the opening remarks, the candlelight ceremony began. As a graduating senior entered the Baldwin High School gym, their name was read along with the name of a junior, in some cases two juniors. 

The senior, with a lit candle in their hand, walked to the center of the gym where they met the underclassmen who had unlit candles. The senior passed the flame on to the underclassmen and each took their seats.

Once the candlelight ceremony was complete, Baldwin Senior High School Principal Calvin Patillo recognized the valedictorians Brittney Grant and Tyler Shepler and Salutatorian Daekwon Fisher. Patillo also presented them with their honor cords.

"This year it is an honor because we do not only have one but we have two valedictorians," Patillo said. "These two young people will forever in history be recognized for their academic achievements for this particular class."

Following the recognition of the valedictorians and salutatorian, Ayana Richardson, College Access Center director and Promise Zone coordinator, began the process of announces the recipients of various scholarships with the Baldwin Promise Scholarships. This year's class is able to receive up to $76,250 for their education through the Baldwin Promise, Richardson said.

Other scholarships were announced by the Lake County Community Foundation, Baldwin Rotary, Reed Family, Red Cross and M.L. King Lake/Newaygo Committee. Following the scholarships, four teachers took the podium to announce various less serious, but just as heartfelt, awards to the graduating seniors.

The following students received scholarships during the Candlelight Ceremony:

  • Brittney Grant – St. Francis Dean Scholarship-Madonna University, Roomwaiver Scholarship-Madonna University, Gerl Scholarship, M.L. King Lake/Newaygo Scholarship, Red Cross Scholarship
  • Tyler Shepler – Gerl Scholarship, M.L. King Lake/Newaygo Scholarship, Coykendall Scholarship
  • Daekwon Fisher – Emil Wenger Scholarship
  • Adam Roberts – Strive Scholarship
  • Alice Howard – Strive Scholarship
  • Brandon Baker – Strive Scholarship