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HATS OFF TO THE SPARTANS | Class of 2013 says farewell to Bainbridge High

Paimon Jaberi high fives Spencer Hogger after receiving their diplomas on Saturday, June 8. - Richard D. Oxley / Bainbridge Island Review
Paimon Jaberi high fives Spencer Hogger after receiving their diplomas on Saturday, June 8.
— image credit: Richard D. Oxley / Bainbridge Island Review

Bainbridge High School senior Nate Greason looked over an audience of fellow graduates, family members and a sea of other friendly faces and began a history lesson.

“In 1533 Catherine de’ Medici traveled to France to marry King Henry II,” he began. “In her youthful ignorance she had no idea she was stepping into a life of cut-throat political intrigue and brutal betrayal.”

The crowd draped in blue gowns slightly giggled, yet wore a variety of perplexed expressions as Greason continued to note other past misfortunes; Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s political blunder of declaring peace with Germany before World War II, Elvis Presley dying on a toilet, the 1999 riot in Seattle at the World Trade Organization’s millennial meeting.

“Finally, on June 8, 2013, over 350 high school seniors along with family and community members gather at Bainbridge High School,” Greason said with a grin.

“They gathered to celebrate graduation and the beginning of their lives after high school.”

The audience erupted into laughter at the association.

But Greason’s message wasn’t one of a bleak, dismal outlook. Rather, he turned the spirit around stating that even in the worst times in history, “relentless, burning passion” makes an impact.

“This community, and particularly this high school, is driven by passion,” Greason concluded. “I’ve seen it myself. Our time here has been significant because of the passionate actions of athletes scholars, class clowns, actors, musicians, artists, introverts, extroverts and leaders among us.”

Greason doesn’t know what will become of his fellow classmates in the years ahead. But he promised that as long as they carry with them the fervor of Bainbridge Island, they will be OK and make an impact.

“I urge you to go forth with relentless, fiery passion,” he said.

Bainbridge principal Brent Peterson agreed with his graduating student. A total of 333 seniors graduated from Bainbridge High this year, and Peterson had difficulty covering the extensive list of class accomplishments at the graduation ceremony Saturday afternoon.

“This class has achieved outstanding success academically, in athletics and the arts,” he said. “They have made Bainbridge Island a more vibrant and engaging place for all of us.”

The class of 2013 produced a total of 13 valedictorians, each earning a perfect 4.0 grade point average for their four years at BHS.

Twenty Spartans are National Merit Scholarship students and three achieved National Merit Scholar final status, Peterson said.

But he was just getting started.

Eighteen seniors were recognized with Washington state principal scholar awards and one student earned a Washington scholar honoree recognition.

A total of 120 students in the class of 2013 have been recognized as Washington honors awards recipients.

“This number represents 36 percent of this graduating class achieving in the top 10 percent of all graduates in the state of Washington,” Peterson noted.

A total of 109 students earned the honor of wearing gold cords at graduation, showcasing their membership in the National Honor Society.

And finally, seven seniors will leave Bainbridge High, not only with a diploma, but also with an associate of arts degree. The students took advantage of a state program that allows students to complete high school and community college at the same time.

Peterson looked over the crowd of students with a smile as he noted their achievements, taking the time to pause and observe their faces. It was the last graduation as principal for Peterson. The class of 2013 is the last class he will see off before retiring.

Before leaving the stage, he took the time to impart a few last words of advice. He told them to take the time to reflect and learn from hard times, and also to “show up and be present today.”

And finally, there was this:

“Live bravely,” he said, quoting the two words from his favorite outdoor magazine.

“For me they say a lot. For you, I hope they might encourage you to be brave enough to do the right thing. To do the hard thing.”

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