It was a day of celebration, happiness then sadness, fear, and tears as 202 Bellbrook seniors said farewell to their days of being together as one. It was the last day they would sit shoulder to shoulder or hand in hand as one distinguished class. Saturday, May 24, Bellbrook seniors stood proud at the James S. Trent Arena in Kettering gearing up to enter the next phase of their life. Some will be entering the work force while others will be enrolling in colleges, including Stanford, Alabama, Cornell, Duke, Wright State, Ohio State and more. They are tomorrow’s future.
“Life will change as you follow the yellow brick road out of Bellbrook and Sugarcreek,” Keith St. Pierre, Ed.D., Superintendent said. “It is a great community we live in, but it is a very protected environment and in some ways not the real world. But we believe that you will all be prepared to face the real world.”
Bellbrook officials brought the arena to tears as parents, students, staff and loved ones stood applauding as a special diploma was given to the parents of Sklyar Kooken, a fellow senior classmate that passed away after a tragic auto accident on November 4, 2012, along with Julianna Hawk and Sophie Kerrigan.
This class has accomplished so much. In athletics, the seniors have broken records, scholarships and grants have been awarded and achievements have been obtained. As a class they have cheered each other on, they have faced fears and celebrated achievements. They have lost and they have loved. They will always share a bond that will forever hold them together.
“To bring this day to reality for this class of 2014, it involved the efforts of a diversity group of people, teachers, advisors, coaches and friends but the most important influential persons for our graduates today were their parents,” Christopher Baker, Bellbrook High School Principal said before announcing the teachers that would not be returning to Bellbrook in the fall.
The community says goodbye to some great, dedicated teachers. Lyn Velte, the French teacher, will be furthering her studies and love of education in North Carolina. She had been a teacher at Bellbrook High School for fifteen years. Pam McDonald, a math teacher, will be retiring after her fifteen year reign teaching in Bellbrook High School. Christina Long, a language arts and Drama teacher, is retiring after thirty-seven years of service to the Bellbrook schools.
Principal, Christopher Baker announced the top ten 2014 academic graduates of the class as follows:
1. Nolan Kitchin
2. Marissa Werts
3. Kevin Conley
4. Benjamin Schneider
5. Adam Rettig
6. Joseph Zoller
7. Vincent Tong
8. Leah Simon
9. Dru Hunsaker
10. Misao Ford
“The young women and men in the class of 2014, will now be taking that last step on their primary and secondary educational road and are on the entrance ramp to adulthood and the beginning of the rest of their life. Today is the day to accept the rewards of these many years of school, which is your High School diploma,” said Baker. “I feel very confident that the students of the class of 2014 have developed a well-rounded type of educational experience and will continue their lives journey by going to college, enrolling in technical schools, entering military service, and some will move directly to the world of work. But, whatever path our graduates take, education will be a center piece.”
Graduation is a time where dreams, aspirations and confidence begin. It is a time for our young adults to go off into the world and make their own place in society. Whether they become the owner of the newest restaurant chain, the next president, the scientist that cures cancer or the next Edgar Allen Poe, Bellbrook High School has prepared them to strive for the best.
“Most of the time, we are expected to put in a lot of effort without receiving much reward,” said Salutatorian, Marissa Werts. “We have all experienced and usually brief gratification; but not today. Today we wait no longer to receive our gratification. Today we celebrate the moments when we pushed our limits and succeeded, when we thought we couldn’t.”
Throughout these graduates’ lives they will find this statement to be true in no matter what they do in life. Werts’ delivery of life’s small celebrations and hard work brought that reality to life in her speech about take every moment to celebrate even the smallest life events.
Valedictorian, Nolan Kitchin remembered his Centerville school days, when he felt alone and secluded. But, since he became a member of the small community of Bellbrook he now feels accepted and a part of something bigger.
“I am grateful that our paths have crossed here at Bellbrook High School. Today, we accept our diplomas, tomorrow our paths will go in 220 different directions,” said Kitchin. “Undoubtedly, each of our journeys will be both exciting and rewarding but will also be littered with life’s messy challenges. I believe we are ready to tackle the hard work ahead of us, after completing the hard work that we’ve already done. So, go forth my fellow Golden Eagles, put your stamp on the world and may our paths cross again.”
For Class President, Michael Kerr, who has provided advice to his classmates for the past three years, gave one last suggestion as these young men and women embark down a road of the unknown. “For my graduates here today, I want you to be taking note on how we can truly show gratitude for all that the people here have done for us.” Kerr said. “Ultimately, we are forced to depend on others at one point or another. There is no getting around it. I encourage you all to be using influences and help make a better life for those around you. Just like everything else, more is not guaranteed. Make the most of what you’ve been given. As you walk away today, give thank to all that have helped get you here.”
For the class of 2014 Bellbrook graduates, their time starts now.