BCS holds second annual Decision Day to celebrate graduating students

BALDWIN – Standing in front of their peers, teachers, school administrators and members of the community, the graduating seniors at Baldwin Community Schools proudly declared their post-graduation plans at the second-annual Decision Day on May 1.

“Today, for our seniors, it was the day they were able to tell their Baldwin High School teachers and other classmates and people from the community that they have decided to either go to college or to enlist in the services,” said Ayana Richardson, College Access Center director and Promise Zone coordinator.

This year, 95 percent of the senior class have made plans to attend college or enlist in the armed services after graduating later this month. That accomplishment wasn’t lost on Baldwin High School Principal Calvin Patillo.

“Our seniors have worked hard for the last four years,” Patillo said. “Many of them have overcome a number of challenges and obstacles. However, they persevered which has brought them to this moment.”

Following remarks from Patillo and Richardson, the members of the senior class with post-graduation plans stepped up to the podium to announce those plans before the crowd. Many applied to multiple institutions and were accepted to more than one of those institutions.

Brittney Grant applied to three colleges and was accepted to all three. She plans to attend Madonna University to study sign language and child development. Although standing in front of the crowd brought her some anxiety, making her announcement also filled her with pride.

“At first it’s nervous, you get really nervous, and then it gets exciting to be able to say you are actually going on after high school to do more,” Grant said.

Holding a Decision Day event is as much about celebrating the students’ accomplishments as it is to motivate their fellow students in the crowd, Richardson said.

“It’s important for the students here to communicate to the community that they made this decision because I think too many times you often see that students or youth are involved in things that aren’t always positive, and this is something positive that they can be celebrated for,” Richardson said. “It’s also great for the students here to see so they can see that, ‘Hey, I can be motivated to be a part of this day and be a part of this celebration,’ and hopefully it can inspire them to push forward and move forward and aspire them to have a big dream.”

Following the students’ announcements, Deborah Smith-Olson, Baldwin Promise Authority Board chair, congratulated the students and said she hoped they would come back to Baldwin and be a part of the community following their post-secondary plans. However, if they decided not to, she reminded the students they would make “tens of thousands” of dollars more in their lifetime than those who do not have a higher education degree.

Smith-Olson and Richardson proceeded to give each of the graduating seniors a gift, and three names of seniors were drawn to win additional prizes that included a Galaxy Tab 3, a graphing calculator and an Amazon gift card.

BCS Board of Education President Joseph Brooks, Jr. also spoke to the students. He told the students he contemplated leaving college after his first year in attendance, but ultimately decided to stick it out and see it through. He also gave the students his business card and told them they could call him if they ever needed someone to talk to.

Daekwon Fisher plans to attend Saginaw Valley University and study criminal justice. Like Grant, he said he was nervous to make his announcement in front of the crowd, but knew everyone in attendance was there to offer their support.

“It’s a good feeling; I know the community is proud of us and they have our backs in case we need them,” Fisher said.

In closing the event, BCS Superintendent Stiles Simmons thanked the graduating seniors for their hard work and dedication throughout the years. He also challenged the future graduating classes in attendance to reach the same 95 percent mark that this year’s class did when it is their Decision Day.

“Today, look at you now, sitting in front of your classmates, parents and friends as an example of what is possible,” Simmons said speaking to the seniors. “You are all shinning examples of hope and living testaments of perseverance, and to you we all say job well done.”

The event is sponsored by a University of Michigan-School of Education grant the Baldwin Promise Zone received last year.

WHERE THEY’RE GOING

Baldwin High School held its second-annual Decision Day on May 1 to celebrate the commitments its graduating seniors plan to make after high school. The following is a list of the seniors and the schools or armed forces they were accepted to.

  • Brandon Baker — Oakland Community College.
  • Shlonda Bowman — Lansing Community College and Grand Rapids Community College.
  • James Cannon — West Shore Community College and Muskegon Community College.
  • Daekwon Fisher — Northern Michigan University, Saginaw Valley State University and Oakland University.
  • Shantell Forest — Grand Rapids Community College and Macomb Community College.
  • Lawrence Galbraith — West Shore Community College.
  • Brittany Graham — Grand Rapids Community College.
  • Brittney Grant — Madonna University, Oakland Community College and Lansing Community College.
  • Joseph Hamilton — Muskegon Community College, West Shore Community College and Grand Rapids Community College.
  • Wayne Hawkins, Jr. — Michigan Career and Technical Institute and Grand Rapids Community College.
  • Ashleigh Hinkley — Northwestern Michigan College.
  • Alice Howard — Lansing Community College and Baker College.
  • Christopher Jacobs — Lansing Community College, Oakland Community College, Muskegon Community College and Grand Rapids Community College.
  • Alan Johnson — Saginaw Valley State University, U.S. Navy and West Shore Community College.
  • John Johnson, Jr. — Lansing Community College.
  • Erin Lewis — Lansing Community College, Grand Rapids Community College and Muskegon Community College.
  • Adam Roberts — Baker College, Macomb Community College and Grand Rapids Community College.
  • Tyler Shepler — Ferris State University and Grand Valley State University.
  • Kaitlyn Smith — West Shore Community College and Muskegon Community College.
  • Nicholas Sumpter — Ferris State University and Western Michigan University.
  • Kamaria Taylor — Northwestern Michigan College and U.S. Air Force.