After persevering through three “unique” years of high school during COVID-19, 375 graduates from Bainbridge and 28 from Eagle Harbor high schools crossed the stage Saturday to receive their diplomas.
Families and friends who filled BHS Memorial Stadium cheered and applauded the Class of 2022.
Superintendent Peter Bang-Knudsen encouraged the graduates to be hopeful and to find constructive ways to move forward when injustice occurs. He shared the story of BI resident Felix Narte, who helped the Japanese-American community when it was unjustly imprisoned during World War II. “Remember that small acts of kindness can make a significant difference in bending the moral arc toward justice. This optimistic worldview, rooted in action, will help guide you into the future. Keep seeking joy, continue to lead with kindness and most importantly, go forth and be like Felix.”
BHS principal Kristina Rodgers said the graduates were thoughtful and high academic achievers. “I’ve seen students taking the initiative to start a new club, organize classmates to stand up for a social issue, offer a friendly smile, a helping hand or a word of encouragement to a classmate. Or, to say ‘thank you’ to a teacher at the end of the lesson…It’s unbelievable.”
Rodgers noted many accomplishments. In this class there are 111 National Honor Society members, 68 Washington State Honors Award recipients, 18 Washington State Principal Scholar awardees, 26 graduates who earned the Washington State Seal of biliteracy, and 18 students who also earned an Associate of Arts degree through Running Start.
Many of the graduate speakers remembered rising above challenges, being humble, seeking opportunities for growth and being grateful for their mentors.
“None of us knew what we had in store for us. We didn’t have the typical high school experience,” co-valedictorian Madeline Brown said.
Co-valedictorian Benjamin Reeb said, “The difficulty of the past three years has been a lesson in humility. But, as humble as all of us have been to tolerate and accept the rules and guidelines, that have drastically altered our high school career, none have been as humble as the teachers, parents, coaches, mentors and adult leaders that have toiled silently to bring us through to the end. We enter the wider world with a leg up having seen exactly what it takes to form a successful community. Our achievements cannot be separated from those that helped us to achieve.”
Another co-valedictorian, Eileen Miller, added, “These moments in our lives have shaped us. They’ve made us the thoughtful, curious and brave people we are today.”
Class speaker Ryan Alsberge took a selfie with the audience before sharing his advice: “Open the doors of new opportunities and choose how you proceed in life wisely. Embrace uncomfortable situations and practice healthy habits. There is only one you.”