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VIDEO: Gilmore, Powell make history at Bradwell graduation
BI grad 1
The tassels get turned as the Bradwell Institute class of 2023 completes commencement exercises.

Salutatorian Ma’chiah Powell and valedictorian Bailey Gilmore addressed their fellow Bradwell Institute graduates, 335 strong, in front of a jam-packed Olvey Field at Hokey Jackson Stadium on Saturday evening, and they did it as firsts.

Gilmore and Powell are the first Black girls to finish 1-2 in a BI graduating senior class.

“I am extremely proud of our achievements,” said Gilmore, who was also the senior class president, “not only as young women but young Black women. We have proven to all the little girls who look like us that nothing can dim the light from within. A star does not need permission to shine; we just do.”

Powell pointed out that their high school careers were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which struck during the end of their freshmen year.

“The long wait to receive our diplomas in our hands is finally over,” she told her classmates. “We all have conquered and triumphed. Look at you - you should be very proud of yourselves for being on this field today. We have not made this journey by ourselves. Take the time to give a round of applause for those who have helped us in this journey.”

Powell, who thanked her parents, coaches and some of her classmates, also expressed her optimism for her classmates’ futures.

“We are beginning a new chapter and have stepped into adulthood,” she said. “Today, class of 2023, we soar. This is where we start our new beginnings. We are the future and we are the Tigers and we will roar.”

Gilmore cited the late British leader Winston Churchill in her address, referring to his quote “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

“What really matters,” Gilmore said, ‘is having the courage and determination to keep going despite challenges and obstacles. Ultimately, it is the ability to persist and persevere that makes the difference between success and failure.”

Gilmore called addressing her fellow classmates a great honor and said she was grateful to “this amazing moment in time with each of you.”

Like Powell, Gilmore said she could not have made it to the podium to address her fellow graduates on her own, specifically thanking her family and her brother Blake.

“Our family motto is ‘be more, be great,’ and I will stand by that as long as I live,” she said. “I am grateful to say I have left my legacy at Bradwell Institute, but most importantly I have represented our family name.”

Gilmore, who will be attending Vanderbilt University on a basketball scholarship, recalled what those first few days roaming Bradwell’s vast halls were like for the class of 2023 as freshmen.

“Who knew the next four years would approach us so quickly?” she asked. “From our early days as nervous freshmen, we have grown and matured into wise, confident young adults, ready to take on the world.

“Our high school journeys may be coming to an end,” Gilmore continued, “but the memories we made will last a lifetime.”

The final days as high schoolers were filled with excitement, fear, gratitude and nostalgia, Gilmore added, and while the moment may be a drop in a bucket, “My prayer for each of you is that your bucket overflows with purpose, prosperity, accomplishment, love and success,” she said.


VIDEO: 2023 Bradwell Institute graduation

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