BHS seniors ‘ascend’ at Baccalaureate

The student-chosen theme of this year’s June 5 Interfaith Counsel-sponsored Baccalaureate Service for Bainbridge High School graduating seniors was “Ascend.”

The joy of an in-person event was reflected in the thoughtful words of student and faculty speeches June 5 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

LDS Bishop Mike Brooks welcomed students and families in the sanctuary. Rev. Erin Grayson, president of the sponsoring Bainbridge Island North Kitsap Interfaith Council, also welcomed everyone. Part of the service includes a litany, this year written by Rev. Zackrie Vinczen. The first statement in part, summed up the theme.

“The definition of the word ‘arise’ is ‘to emerge; to become apparent.’ And so, let us pause to mark the emergence – the revealing of apparency – that this time represents as these graduates arise to what awaits them.”

At the end, the graduates responded with, “Today we ascend and answer the call of the world. Setting out with the knowledge that no matter what we do, where we go, or who we become, we belong and are loved.”

Student reflections conveyed messages of joy, hope and gratitude to family, friends and teachers who have supported them.

Associated Student Body president Erin Weiss expressed her gratitude for the mentoring by teachers and her parents. She quoted Karl Barth, that “joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” She went on to say: “Simply, the joy I experience is the best way to show my gratitude. Joy is a choice we make. Thankfully, with such an incredible community around me, that choice was much easier.”

ASB vice president Addy Ledbetter’s theme was “excuses or results,” three words her mother reiterated to her growing up. “In the next minute, day, or year anything could happen. And as we as graduates make new memories after high school and learn to value every minute God gives us on this earth, think about the person you were, the person you are today, and the person you want to be in the future, and remember—Excuses or results.”

Addie Beerman shared how she overcame learning challenges by recognizing that she is more than capable of learning things. Theater has made a huge impact on her life because not only did it teach her more about herself, but she made new friends, learned new things and had fun. A favorite quote is, “The more you let go, the higher you rise.”

A brilliant saxophone solo by Elana Memke was a demonstration of dedication and talent. Piano offerings by Keon Deng, both for the processional for the seniors and a solo piece, were beautifully played and added depth of expression to the ceremony. A singing together song, “Rise Up,” was beautifully led by Abigail Hawkes, accompanied by Deng.

The Faculty Reflection came from BHS biology teacher Charles Dunn, who had been chosen by the planning committee of students.

The class of 2022 is surely the “COVID cohort,” he said. Through all the challenges these seniors have maneuvered, they need to make the most of each moment in the best way that they can so that when they look back their reflection is of a life well-lived. Made in the image of God, “you are full of ingenuity, creativity and innovation. My challenge for you is to work as diligently—maybe even a little bit harder—on how you go about making our world better.”

Dunn continued: “Early one morning I came into the 300 building, On the door of my classroom was a sticky note with a quotation, ‘You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.’ That quote had a profound effect on me. I left it there. The message is: anchor yourself in kindness, and then be kind liberally. Extend that gift to all others along the way. And start now.

“And in closing, I’ll add a few more sticky notes for your journey beyond graduation: Be the first to say hello and offer your hand; Be the one who notices; Be the one who stays behind to finish up; Be the one who listens – very carefully; Be the one who salutes someone else’s good idea; Be the one who gives credit to everyone else; Be the one who volunteers. Be the first to apologize and the first to forgive.”

The service was blessed with a 12th-century chant for peace given by three Buddhist monks: Senji Kanaeda, Gilberto Perez and Temm Bikle.

Every Baccalaureate has a participatory activity for the seniors. Each was invited to fold their programs into a paper airplane. They were asked to write on the top side of the wings what their aspirations are and on the underside, what challenges they have overcome. At a ring of the Buddhist bell, all planes were launched.

Thus ended a memorable, thoughtful celebration in preparation for graduation.