Hugs. Laughter. Hoots and hollers. Smiles. Tears.
On Monday, the Bradwell Institute cafeteria was filled with a range of emotions from parents, students and faculty members during the high school’s annual awards night to honor 50 juniors and 104 senior students who excelled in academics, sports, clubs and organizations throughout the past year. A grand total of $234,000 in scholarship money was awarded to the students.
“It is my honor to welcome everybody,” BI Principal Scott Carrier said. “It’s one of our favorite days of the year. These are ladies and gentlemen who have truly put the effort forward to achieve a quality education.”
High-heels click-clacked across the terrazzo floor; nervous hands reached up to straighten crooked ties. Students were not made aware in advance of the honors, scholarships and accolades that were bestowed upon them during the ceremony by various agencies that observed their efforts all year long.
The first half of the ceremony was dedicated to awards, including the introduction of honor graduates, academic letters and academic department awards.
The valedictorian and salutatorian for the 2010-11 school year, Mimi Perry and Rebekah Smith, respectively, also were announced.
Perry’s mother, Georgia Perry, sat in the audience proudly watching her daughter, who she had raised on her own. She knew in advance about her daughter’s No. 1 spot in the class of 2011.
“I had to keep it under wraps,” Perry said with a smile. “I’m beyond proud of her. Just seeing her, because I’m a single parent — raised her all by myself — and it can be done with the help of the Lord.”
Perry will join the Air Force after she graduates high school.
BI’s Col. Ken Koetz presented Perry with a superior cadet award and acknowledged the student’s hard work again after Carrier had announced her as the class valedictorian.
“She’s an excellent leader and she has done a great job this year,” Koetz said.
Cheers and laughter erupted after every name was called. Top students made their parents prouder with every step they took toward the stage to receive Martin scholarships, JROTC awards, CNA certificates, Tulsa Welding School scholarships and more. BI students commemorated their four years of hard work by shaking hands with their instructors and award presenters, accepting certificates and wearing medals, pins and stoles.
Awards and scholarships were given for everything from singing to athletic talent, from drawing to mathematics.
Wayne Barnes, an executive committee member of the Savannah Scottish Rite who presenting several seniors with scholarships, asked audience members whether they were interested in a renewable $1,000 scholarship. When every senior’s hand shot up in the air, he told the students to apply online on the group’s website. Last year, the group had enough funding to give out 1,000 scholarships, but only 56 students applied. The same amount is available this year for graduating seniors, he said.
Senior class guidance counselor Torri Jackson said more than 300 students and parents came out for the ceremony, which made her proud.
“I am very proud of these students for their exceptional talents and intelligence; however, I am most proud of them for being great citizens and student leaders,” Jackson said. “This class will always be remembered for those qualities. My advice to them is to always be diligent because diligence will always be rewarded.”