330 graduate from Bainbridge High School Tuesday night

Photo by Al Kale for sowegalive.com


Approximately 330 senior students graduated from Bainbridge High School Tuesday night at the school’s gymnasium, surrounded by family and friends.

While some students and parents wanted to return to the old tradition of BHS graduations outside at Centennial Field, both the 2013 and 2014 graduations have been held indoors, without the threat of inclement weather, at the BHS gymnasium, with each senior being granted an allotment of graduation tickets.

It was a time for recognizing the accomplishments of all of the seniors, and a reflection on how far they had come. It was also time to show appreciation to the teachers, parents and mentors who helped the seniors throughout their academic career. Finally, a time to look ahead to the promising future.

The Bainbridge High School Class of 2014 also included a healthy number of 92 honor graduates.

Seniors who were active participants in the BHS Class of 2014 graduation were Morgan Phillips, who led the audience in a moment of quiet reflection; Jalyn Mills, who led the Pledge of Allegiance; Jill Overman, who welcomed those in attendance; and Yamantie Galnares and Amanda Wooten, who presented the Class of 2014 honor graduates.

The Senior Chorale Ensemble led the singing of the BHS Alma Mater, “The Purple and Gold,” the BHS Air Force JROTC Color Guard presented the colors of the flags; and the Bainbridge High School Band, under the direction of Paschal Ward, performed pre-recorded music for the ceremony.


Jakob Thorn, left, was the valedictorian of the BHS Class of 2014 and Kay Bush presented the Senior Speech at graduation. Both Thorn and Bush were finalists for the Governor's Honors  summer academic program.
Jakob Thorn, left, was the valedictorian of the BHS Class of 2014 and Kay Bush presented the Senior Speech at graduation. Both Thorn and Bush were finalists for the Governor’s Honors summer academic program.

Jakob Thorn was the Class of 2014 valedictorian; Brooke Parker was the salutatorian and Kay Bush, the seniorwith the third-highest cumulative grade point average, presented the senior speech. While all three were recognized at BHS Honors Night for outstanding academic and leadership achievements, each of them were known for their unique skills: Thorn, for his participation with both the Quiz Bowl team and the region champion swim team; Parker was a talented member of the BHS Dance Line, part of the award-winning BHS Marching Band; and Bush was a four-year cheerleader and athlete who also helped BHS start up its gymnastics team.


Jakob Thorn’s Valedictorian Speech

Brooke Parker’s Salutatorian Speech

Kay Bush’s Senior Speech


Valedictorian’s Speech – Jakob Thorn

Good evening parents, special guests, faculty and staff, students, and Class 2014. It is with great honor that I stand with you in such a significant time in which we celebrate our momentous achievement of graduation from Bainbridge High School. Will all the graduates before me please rise? It’s time for a selfie. You can be seated.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank my friends, teachers, and family that have been have been so incredibly supportive of all of my endeavors and put up with me throughout my life. I would especially like to thank my parents, Jim Thorn and Amy Thorn. They have and continue to face what seem like insurmountable odds, and yet, they have shown me what it truly means to have strength and persevere. Without their continued love and guidance, I would not be here tonight. And, for that, I will be ever thankful.

I, Jakob Thorn, stand before you tonight as your Valedictorian, because I have failed. And we are all here tonight, because we have had the distinct privilege of failing. Our teachers, our parents, and our loved ones have been gracious enough to allow us the opportunity to fail. I contend that failure is a privilege. I’m not here tonight to recant to you every graduation speech that you have ever heard. I’m not here tonight to tell you that our class will take the world by storm. I’m not here tonight to tell you that every time you participate in life you will get a trophy. And I’m also not here tonight to quote Dr. Seuss or read a Robert Frost Poem. Class of 2014, we are about to go into the world and we are going to fail. But, by being here tonight, we have all shown that we hold the real key to success. We have refused to be afraid of failure.

I am able to address you tonight because I have faced failure. I am not Preston Norris, quarterback of the football team. I failed at football. I am not Rae’quan Parris, all-state Chorus star. I failed at singing. I’m not Stephen Johnson, senior basketball star. I failed at basketball. I’m not Dexter Legace, Cadet Colonel in ROTC, I’m not Jill Overman, oboe-extraordinaire, and I’m not Darius Peterson, class President. But, I am Jakob Thorn, and through failure I have been able to find my strengths.

1 Corinthians 12:14-18 tells us:

4 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

The truth is, I am not here tonight to tell you that we can be anything we want to be, because, after all if we could be anything we wanted to be, most of us would either be Batman or Beyonce; I am here tonight to tell you that if we refuse to be afraid of failure, commit ourselves with determination to those areas in which we excel, we can be everything we are meant to be.

Almost all of us have been together since Pre-K, and we have grown up in culture that has an aversion to failure. We have grown up in a culture that gives everyone on the team a trophy. I can remember playing on a soccer team with Macy Black where she would rather pick flowers on the sidelines than kick the ball, and I would rather write my name in the dirt than guard the goal, and somehow, we still got trophies. If at some point we had not been allowed to fail at soccer, Macy might still be picking flowers, and I might still be drawing in the dirt instead of standing here today.

It isn’t fun to fail at soccer, just like it isn’t fun to get a paper back from Dr. Beers or Dr. Chambers covered in purple ink with all too familiar comments like “really?” and “awkward.”. What about those pop quizzes for Mrs. Williams, or better yet those two question quizzes for Mrs. Nour that look something like: Question 1- parts a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h,i,j – Question 2- parts q,r,s,t,u,v and x ? While it isn’t fun to face failure in these situations, if an A is inevitable at the end of the semester, how would we grow as students?

It is only this growth, fueled by the prospect of failure, that prepares us for success in the real world.

Outside of high school, participation does not guarantee a trophy or 60 percent of a paycheck. Statistics tell us, the class of 2014, that outside of high school, more than eight percent of us will be unemployed. 15 percent of us will be underemployed, 49 percent of us will not be self-sufficient, and 50 percent of us attending college will not graduate.

But, statistics also told us that our swim couldn’t win region and bring back a trophy for the first time in seven years. They also told us that our Quiz Bowl team couldn’t compete with Atlanta area schools and bring home two state trophies And, they told us that we couldn’t have 92 honor graduates, more than any class before us. Class of 2014, we do not have to be statistics.

The swim team didn’t win the region trophy just for showing up, it took took hours of rigorous training, countless laps in the pool, and occasional failures. The quizbowl team didn’t bring home two state trophies without hours of studying, intense practice, and occasional losses. And, 325 of us are not graduating tonight just because someone feels like handing us a piece of paper. It took 12 years of attendance, homework, and occasional poor grades to get us here.

So, Tonight, I don’t want to leave you with a speech that only makes you feel good for 5 minutes after we, as a class, walk out of Bainbridge High School for the very last time. Instead, I want to leave us with a formula that will equip us to beat the odds, defy the statistics, and find who we are meant to be. If we walk out of here tonight, understanding that failure is a natural part of life that can direct us and develop our strengths, then, with hard work, Class of 2014, we will succeed.


Salutatorian’s Speech – Brooke Parker

Brooke Parker, right, was the salutatorian of the BHS Class of 2014. Here she is pictured on BHS Honors Night with fellow graduates Lynsey Waddell, left, and Madison Hutchins, center.
Brooke Parker, right, was the salutatorian of the BHS Class of 2014. Here she is pictured on BHS Honors Night with fellow graduates Lynsey Waddell, left, and Madison Hutchins, center.

Good evening. I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to speak with you in some of our last few moments together as a class of Bainbridge High School students.

I would like to share a story with you that not many people have heard.
Earlier this year Mr. Howell and two students were walking to the cafeteria for lunch when they stumbled upon a golden genie lamp. The genie immediately popped out and said “I will grant each of you one wish.”

Excitedly, the first student said:
“I want a massive yacht to sail around the Caribbean!” His wish was granted and Poof! He disappeared.

The second student then jumped in and said “I want an unlimited bank account and a private jet so I can fly all over the world!” And just like that, she was gone.

Turning to MR. HOWELL, The genie said: “Okay… your turn.”
He paused and looked around for the missing students, and without blinking an eye demanded:

“RIGHT AFTER LUNCH, (pause for split second)

Now, Some of you may think the lesson in this story is to always let Mr. Howell make his wish first…

But no, the lesson is much bigger than that.

We are all here tonight because of the investment our parents, community leaders, teachers, and administrators have made on our behalf. By doing whatever is possible to ensure we succeed in life they have; essentially, used their wishes on us!

And now, before any of us receive another congratulatory hug, or graduation gift, let us stop and take a moment to thank these people that have worked to get us to this point with a round of applause.

This is the message I would like to leave each one of you with tonight….

All of us have the potential to do remarkable things in life. However, you will not get there without help. Someone… a teacher, mentor, coach, or even a stranger, will go the extra mile for you. They will write you a recommendation letter, or make a call on your behalf. They will offer you an opportunity to gain experience or training when no one else would. Someone may even offer you a second chance after you’ve made a mistake. Whatever they do, be sure to remember them.

And years from now when you have finally accomplished whatever life goals you’ve been pursuing, take a moment to think of them. Send them a message, give them a call, or if possible, maybe even pay them a visit. I want you to say, “I’ve come a long way in life, and I just wanted to let you know you had something to do with that. You believed in me, you gave me your time, you gave me a chance.” THANK THEM for their effort.

And then, after you’ve done that, I want you to find your own, younger version of yourself that also needs a helping hand extended to them. Support them, guide them, and invest in them so they too can grow. That’s truly what living is all about…paying it forward from one person to the next.

We are going to accomplish great things — I have total confidence in that.
We are going to get knocked down and beaten up along the way — I have total confidence in that as well.

But remember, we will only become successful if those we encounter along the way offer a helping hand. By passing that help on to someone else, we make our world a little better for the next generation.

I wish each and every one of you the very best that life can offer, and may God bless the class of 2014.


Kay Bush – Senior Speech

Good Evening! My name is Kay Bush, and I am so excited to have to opportunity to be the first congratulate my fellow classmates on their great accomplishments. Class of 2014, congratulations on being here tonight. As all of you know, graduation is a major milestone in each of our lives and a time to look forward to what the future may hold. However, graduation is also a time to reflect on the experiences that have brought us to where we are today.

A time for nostalgia. A time to thumb through old year books and read the messages that friends have left behind. That’s exactly what I’ve done and I’d like to share with you what I found.

In my 5th grade yearbook, I found scribbled signatures and funny phrases like “I’m the clown that comes around to sign your yearbook upside down.” And written in the fold of two pages, “Haha, I signed your crack!” Others wrote, “You rule!” “Have an awesome summer” and “Never change!”

In my middle school yearbooks, my friends began to get a little more creative with sweet sayings like “Moo moo quack quack, I’m the first to sign your crack!” ” “Tucker is awesome, remember it your whole life.” and “Stay just the way you are!”

As I thumbed through my high school yearbooks, it was apparent that our handwriting was neater, our thoughts were deeper, and our friendships had grown stronger. “You are beautiful inside and out!” “I’m so glad we met!” “I signed your crack!” Okay so maybe not ALL of our thoughts were deeper. One of my very favorite messages read “You are one of my best friends and I can’t wait for next year! You give the best advice and are always there for me. Never change.”

Never change.

I imagine the autograph pages of each of your yearbooks look similar to mine. For some reason, we are trained to believe that the sweetest messages are the ones that say never change, stay just the way you are. While we will forever cherish these sweet messages from childhood friends, tonight, I have a different message;

Thank God for change.

I thank God that I am not the same little girl on the playground running from the boys with cooties. I thank God for the times of adversity, the times of disappointment, and the times of hardships because these are the times that have shaped my character the most. I thank God for the teachers that challenged me in AP classes and forced me to learn something new. I thank God for the obstacles that He has placed in my life that have made me realize that change is not always easy, but it is necessary to move forward. I thank God for growth, and I thank God for change.

Bainbridge High School, Class of 2014, we may be finished writing research papers, dining in the fabulous Bearcat Cafe, and avoiding Mrs. Pugh for dress code violations. However, we are not finished growing, we are not finished learning, and we are not finished changing.
As we leave the halls of BHS, may we leave behind the stereotypes that say never to break the status quo. May we leave behind the expectations that hinder us from trying new things or branching out into the world. May we leave behind the fear of failure. May we transition into brighter and kinder people. Because while we have all achieved greatness by making it this far, the road to our full potential is just beginning.

As we begin this new phase of life, I’d like to stress to you four important concepts to remember. As Bill Nye would say, “Please, consider the following.”

    1. Number one: Remember the facts. Our teachers have spent twelve long and stressful years of cramming information into our heads. And although at the time, the anatomy of a frog or the Global implications of the ASEAN may not seem relevant to your life, the foundation of your education is critical to your future success. So number one: remember the facts.
    2. Number two: remember who you are. Being a bearcat does not mean that we all have the same ideas, the same interests, or the same goals. But it does mean that we are a family. We represent the people who have invested in our futures, and we will soon go into the world to return this investment. Remember what being a bearcat stands for and hold strong to the morals and values that have gotten you this far.
    3. Number three: remember your heroes. No, I’m not talking about Superman. Hopefully, each of you have a certain mentor you look up to. A person you look to for inspiration and guidance. For me, mine is my mother. The unconditional love and support she has shown me throughout my life is unparalleled. She is my Superman. Remember how your heroes have treated you and impacted your life.

And number four: become your hero. I hope to one day be the type of mother that my mom is for me. I hope to always put my family first, speak with kindness, and love those who can do nothing for me. Constantly assess yourself, and ask, “Am I doing all that I can to become the type of person that I idolize most?”

So, Bainbridge High School, Graduating Class of 2014. Tonight, I am writing a new message in your yearbook that will challenge you for as long as you live. I dare you to change. I dare you to grow. I dare you to break stereotypes. Step out of your comfort zone. Try something new, become your hero, and most of all, I dare you NOT to stay just the way you are.

Thank you and God Bless.

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