Decision Day: Baldwin senior class announces future plans

BALDWIN — As the 12 seniors at Baldwin High School get ready for graduation and move on to the next chapter of life, classmates, school staff, family, Rep. Scott VanSingel (R-Grant) and Sen. Curt Vanderwall (R-Ludington), along with community members, came to hear their announcements of future plans during the annual Decision Day. 

The occasion showcases how far students have come, and is a time for others to congratulate and support them going forward. 

“Whether they plan to continue their educational journey, launch their careers, or begin a life of service to their community and country, we are proud of all our Baldwin seniors for working hard and overcoming obstacles and challenges to reach this important point in their lives,” Baldwin Community Schools superintendent David Forrester said.

"The last few years have been difficult for us," Forrester added. "We couldn't be more proud. Those students sitting here are a testament of dedication and hard work.”

Deborah Smith-Olson, chair for the Baldwin Promise, which supports Baldwin graduates with financial scholarships toward higher education, spoke to the seniors.  

"I look around and see familiar faces — some new. I see family resemblances, the lineage and history. You are all Baldwinites, and will be through your life. I hope you're proud of that,” she said. “These 12 seniors been through a lot — it has not been an easy time. All of your hard work got you here. All of us stand ready to support you — the staff and community at large — as you are nearing your decisions and dreams. Today's a day of celebration." 

Graduates are eligible to receive scholarships through the Baldwin Promise, a program that provides up to $5,000 per year for up to five years to all eligible Baldwin graduates to be used at trade schools, public universities, community colleges or private colleges in Michigan.

“In addition to our Baldwin High School Class of 2022, we are excited to celebrate Rose Lemuiex and Dixie Herinton, two Baldwin Promise Scholars who are receiving their bachelor’s degrees from Michigan State University this weekend,” Baldwin Promise coordinator Reese Drilling said. “We are excited to continue encouraging our students to follow their passions and pursue their dreams.”

The keynote speaker, Angela Johnson, a Baldwin graduate of 2015 and current owner of Jones' Ice Cream, shared her journey and emphasized how sometimes plans can change. 

Working at Jones' through her teen years and while in college at Ferris State University, she first wanted to be a film director, but then later changed her focus to Criminal Justice. By her junior year, she felt a business degree would provide more options. After being offered to buy Jones' from the owners who were retiring, at first it didn't take off right away. But by August 2020, her dream to own the beloved and well-known ice cream shop became a reality. 

"I own Jones' as of August 2020. I employ a lot of you younger people. I want to let you know decisions can change. Things don't always happen the way you think it will," she said.

She gave them some tips for success, such as making connections, having a good handshake, networking, getting over personal insecurities, preparing ahead for everything and having perseverance.

"I wish you all luck and hope something I said resonated," Johnson said. 

The seniors came up one by one and announced plans, such as folklore, technician, landscaping, electrical technician and other post-secondary interests. The seniors were then each presented a gift bag. 

Following the Decision Day ceremony, the traditional candlelight ceremony took place in the gym, where seniors light the candles of juniors to pass on the torch of becoming Baldwin High School seniors. 

— Melissa Anders, of Byrum & Fisk Advocacy Communications, for Baldwin Community Schools, contributed to this report.