The 2015 senior class at Bradwell Institute walked onto Olvey Field on Saturday evening for the last time as high-school students.
Family, friends and teachers gathered in the stands and cheered for the students during the processional. After the 372 graduates marched in, senior Cole Coston led the Pledge of Allegiance and opened the ceremony with words of inspiration.
Coston said, “I challenge each and every one of you, myself included, to strive to be the best we can be in whatever our diverse choices may be. Steve Jobs said, ‘Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown out your inner voice. And, most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.’”
The BI chorus, directed by Monina Morris, sang the national anthem, which drew a round of applause from the audience.
Principal Scott Carrier welcomed everyone to the ceremony and addressed the seniors.
“Thanks for making this a memorable year at Bradwell. Some of you, I’ve known since kindergarten, and others for a short while,” he said. “You’re proud of all that you’ve accomplished, but apprehensive about what might lie ahead. Let me say this to each of you. Your feelings of joy and sadness, excitement and worry, pride and apprehension are all normal and to be expected when reaching one of life’s major milestones. Enjoy these feelings because they will help you to remember this event in a vivid and nostalgic manor.”
Liberty County School System Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee greeted the seniors and advised that they make good choices and make certain that they finish their course.
“Be determined to finish what you start, and be the best you can be,” she said.
Salutatorian Tanya Pierre said that while preparing for her speech, she searched YouTube for ideas. She mentioned that there were many metaphors people used but that she couldn’t relate to them. Pierre decided to let the words flow and spoke from her heart.
“One thing I can never forget being told before going to high school is that people change. I remember being so afraid of that happening. I thought it would be a bad thing, and I was determined to prevent any change from happening. However, I couldn’t stop it, and changes did occur. I changed, and we all did,” she said. “You all are going to change, but trust me, it’s for the better. You all are going to take with you, wherever you may go, all that you were taught from little ol’ Bradwell and transform these ideas into something great. Now is the time for all of us to become people we’ve dreamed of being. This is our world. We’re here. We matter. The world is waiting. Congratulations, Class of 2015!”
Valedictorian Joslyn Lopes first thanked the seniors for accepting her, as she has only been at Bradwell for a year and a half. She talked about getting advice on what to say from various people and, in particular, her mom. Lopes’ mom encouraged her to be herself, and she explored that idea. Lopes described herself as a “certified nerd” and said that her yearbook quote was from a cartoon. She chose a cartoon quote because it reminded her of the words she chose to live by: “Perfection isn’t real.”
“Perfection isn’t real. So don’t conform to any standard — break them. Being yourself means realizing your flaws and accepting them. It is realizing there will be those who will try to bring you down and realizing that success is really a standard worth breaking. You have to know that there is no perfect person, as much as society portrays there is,” Lopes said. “Isn’t life a bit more perfect when you enjoy being you? We’re young, we’re going to make mistakes, but let’s not make the mistake of not being true to ourselves.
“As we gather this one last time, let’s prompt each other to accept ourselves and others for who we are and to leave here tonight challenging ourselves to do the best we can as we move forward into the future,” she said. “Congratulations and best wishes to the Class of 2015!”
Miriam Madison, the senior-class president, presented Carrier with the 2015 senior-class gift, a painting of a tiger.
The main moment of the night had finally come. One by one, seniors received their diplomas and took photos with Carrier, to the cheers of family in the stands.
After the last senior, Carrier said, “It is time. Please move your tassels from the right to the left.” Everyone in the stadium cheered as blue caps were thrown into the air.