"A time for laughs, tearsA full stadium honors the hard work of the BHS Class of 2001."

"Inflatable beach balls burst from the crowd at intervals, punched into the sky to float down and bounce around on outstretched hands.Individuals, one and all, Dave Ellick deadpanned, as students enjoyed one last breach of discipline at the principal's expense during his commencement address Saturday.Soon those hands reached out for another prize: diplomas.And Bainbridge High School graduated 278 enthusiastic seniors Saturday evening, in a crowded commencement ceremony at the football stadium.First graduation speaker was senior Andy Reese who likened the goal-setting of life to his experiences running.Give yourself something to shoot for, Reese told classmates. Raise a family. Save the rainforest. Find a cure for AIDS. Aim high.By our failures, we grow. By our successes, we are encouraged to try again, he said. Bainbridge High School has given us too good of a head start not to finish this race.Classmate Eden Nordby lauded the class for having formed close and lasting relationships during their prep years, saying that she would rather have several close friends than 278 acquaintances.While savoring the commencement moment, Nordby also acknowledged the evening as one of transition.Within an hour, she said, I'll be dreaming of a future dorm room and the sheets and towels that I'll have to buy and wash.The class produced four valedictorians - Jacqueline Gomes, Amber Hallet, Emily Johnson and Catherine Kilbane - all of whom maintained perfect 4.0 grade-point averages through their four years of high school.Scholars were in abundance, with seven national merit semi-finalists, and 13 national commended students.Administrators also acknowledged the contributions of teachers and staff.Students named humanities instructor Jonathan Miller-Lane Teacher of the Year, and also gave a special nod to librarian Elena Baker for help with research projects.The evening was also poignant for School Board Chair Ken Breiland, whose daughter Anna-Lisa Breiland was among the graduating class.That gave the elder Breiland an opportunity to reflect on commencement from the perspective of the many parents assembled.We're happy. We're sad. We're worried. We're confident, Breiland said. We're ready for the next chapter in our life, just as we think you're ready for your next chapter.Rather than the usual handshake, the younger Breiland got a paternal hug as she was handed her diploma.Breiland closed his remarks by quoting children's author Dr. Seuss:* * * * *CongratulationsToday is your dayYou're off to great placesYou're off and away!You have brains in your headYou have feet in your shoesYou can steer yourselfAny way you choose.You're on your own.And you know what you knowAnd YOU are the ones who'll decide where to go.YOU are the ones who'll decide where to go. "

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