BHS Baccalaureate: ‘Holding Hands 6 Feet Apart’

“Holding Hands Six Feet Apart” – that was the student-chosen theme for the recent 2021 Baccalaureate for Bainbridge High School graduating seniors.

Makes sense, considering social distancing rules caused by COVID-19 restrictions.

Like last year, it was a drive-through event due to continued concerns of the coronavirus. It was held in the Bethany Lutheran Church parking lot.

The theme was reflected in the student speeches.

Audrey Nelson examined falling in love: She tried not falling at all, but learned from others during COVID. “They clapped for healthcare workers, made music on their balconies, cried and paid attention to the way it felt – the bigness of the emotion in their chest. They did not condemn or overthink or bite back that bigness; they just tumbled into it.” Now she said she has no reservations about telling everyone that she feels love for them.

John Muir spoke of the necessity of humor. “When we share a laugh, we are all suddenly harmonizing our emotions. We feel different shades of the same joy. That warmth will linger longer than you can know.”

The keynote speaker, Kyle Meidel, a BHS history teacher, talked about the importance of community, all the people with whom one comes in contact. They build a web of support that “strengthens our community’s resources.” Observing the students working to organize the event the day before, he saw “social capital being developed”. They were building new connections that “might in the future help meet a need or solve a problem.” His closing advice was to encourage the students to build connections face to face by joining a group- something they couldn’t do during COVID – and to always remember to call their mother.

As always, special music was performed.

David Curcie played and sang the original song “Soft Animal.” Lyrics include: “Two yards is too far, we’re still together but apart. Spent a year turned upside down…I’m going to move on but it’ll always be part of my past, Now that’s forever because a moment turns to memory so fast.”

Declan Mclennan sang with Carmen Shelton-Jenck his song “Moonlight.” The chorus was, “Stars shine, while we live our lives away, and sometimes we’re led astray, but we’ll find home, we’ll find home.”

Mitchell Milander playing guitar and sang with his mother, Vicki, the Carol King song, “You’ve God a Friend.” She also shared the poem “Footprints in the Sand.”

The Bill Withers song “Lean of Me” was played over speakers for everyone in their cars to sing along.

The blessing at the end, given by Cindy Zwick, C.S., from First Church of Christ, Scientist, celebrated the message of the song – “yearning for a world where people really do care for each other,” where it’s OK to let friends catch and support you. She said, “It’s even a spiritual message that you can depend on something more than self.

“So bless each and every one of you for the moral, caring and loving support that you’ve shared in this message…indicating your commitment to be there for each other… for your community… and for your world.”

There is always a ritual offering and this year each car was given a bag with a colored paper cut-out hand, a clothespin and a pen. Each senior was asked to write what community meant to them, and how they connected to community this year.

Comments included:

*“On my right there is someone who knows more than me – I can learn. On my left there is someone who knows less than me – I can teach. I need both so I can be!”

*“I’ve had to be more intentional about who and how I connect with my community. Community isn’t about proximity or shared interests; it’s the people that give you the space and care and support needed to find out who you are, and then embrace that person.”

Bainbridge Island/North Kitsap Interfaith Council put on the event. It is an association of different faith groups in the area, sharing, respecting and celebrating the differentreligious traditions, seeking faith-based common ground by working together for good in the community and beyond.

David Curcie, Elliot Mateson and Nick Lofgren played music at the event.