The Spartans have left the building

Sound the great ferry horn of tomorrow, Bainbridge’s graduation seniors are setting sail on their own adventure: final destinations unknown but promising.

Spirits were high during the Class of 2017’s Commencement Ceremony for Bainbridge and Eagle Harbor highs, and even though some rather ominous-looking weather threatened to soak their gowns Saturday, it was clear that no amount of rain could possibly capsize these Spartan spirits on their special day.

Mercifully, the rain did not come, and the threatening clouds even gave way to sunshine as Bainbridge High’s valedictorians took the stage.

One of the BHS’ 10 valedictorians, Clio Batali, took a moment to remind the students of their accomplishments.

“We made it, we actually made it. After years of watching the cycling of our peers through milestones we’ve all grown to look forward to, we’ve made it to the greatest so far: graduation,” Batali said.

“It’s our turn now. It’s been a relentless four years, but here we are all together to celebrate the achievements of the Class of 2017 and wish each other well as we are about to diverge,” Batali said.

Co-valedictorian Maxwell Brown made sure to encourage the graduates to thank those partially responsible for their accomplishment.

“Issac Newton once said, ‘If I’ve seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.’ Today, graduates owe our success in part to ourselves, but also to a number of giants who have supported us throughout our education,” Brown said, “our families, our teachers, our peers, our community and our country.”

“Be sure to thank the giants in your lives when you get the chance to over these next few weeks,” he said.

Kristen Haizlip, Bainbridge High’s incoming principal, thanked all of the teachers, coaches, custodians and support staff for being instrumental in the lives of the graduates.

Haizlip noted the particular challenges associated with island living, chiefly the complications which arise with ferry schedules when planning any trip to Seattle.

“Kids growing up here become skilled in patience and planning when trying to get off the Rock,” Haizlip said before introducing Julia Lapin, who also echoed Haizlip’s nautical theme.

“Your attention please, we are now arriving at our destination. Please make sure to have all your personal belongings before disembarking the vessel,” Began Lapin, reciting the arrival recording played by Washington State Ferries on each sailing.

“How many times have we heard that one phrase? We’ve heard it hundreds of times, and at a certain point we started to tune it out. Even so, we still probably have it in the back of our heads,” Lapin continued.

“When that announcement came on, we were either about to embark on an adventure — even if it was a small one, like getting flowers from Pike Place or going to a Mariners game, or coming home from one. We don’t really think about what it means, but deep down there’s more to it.

“So, Class of 2017, we have arrived at our destination,” Lapin said, prompting a round of enthusiastic cheers from her classmates.

Duane Fish, the soon-to-be former principal of Bainbridge High, took a moment to laud the achievements of the graduating class, as well.

“The Class of 2017 had a world semi-finalist robotics team; one of the best jazz, concert and marching bands in the state; eight of our athletic teams throughout the entire year finished in the state’s top 10. Our girls lacrosse team finished second and we had a first — a first in school history — boys state swim and dive champion,” Fish said.

“Based on all I’ve shared with you today about these graduates, one thing is crystal clear to me: There’s little these young people cannot accomplish,” Fish said.

“I hope each of you leaves Bainbridge with the pride and confidence that comes with being a Spartan. There’s something special in each of you and it’s been an honor to learn and grow with you. I wish you the best always, thank you and congratulations,” Fish said.

District Superintendent Peter Bang-Knudsen offered some simple advice to the class, “Always remember what you learned in kindergarten.”

“It is truly amazing, if you get a chance go back and visit your kindergarten teachers, and remember what it was like to be a 5-year-old, just new to the school. And look at yourselves now. It’s truly awe-inspiring how much you guys have grown,” Bang-Knudsen said.

“Seniors, remember those lessons you learned from your kindergarten teachers: Make new friends, say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ laugh and sing, be aware of wonder. With this advice, you are now ready to launch into adulthood,” the superintendent said.

“Congratulations seniors, now let’s get on with the show. As superintendent of the Bainbridge Island School District, I enthusiastically accept the graduating Class of 2017,” Bang-Knudsen said.

With the culmination of the superintendent’s speech, raucous applause erupted from the families in attendance as the 328 seniors made their way across the stage to collect their diplomas.

Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review - Seniors line up to accept diplomas.

Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review – Seniors line up to accept diplomas.