103 graduate from Bell High School
By Carrie A. Mizell
From glitzy spiked heels to scarred cowboy boots, the 103 graduates of Bell High School represented a unique mix of students, all with at least one thing in common together; they formed the school’s graduating Class of 2010.
Guests stood as cameras flashed and air horns sounded, marking the graduates’ entry onto the field, with the Purple Powerhouse Band playing “Pomp and Circumstance.” As the Class of 2010 took their places beneath the lights of Boneyard field for the last time, emotions welled.
Bell seniors Sarah Nesmith, Courtney Akins, Kyle Barker, Richard Bell, Jr. and Kelly Brannan
walk across the football field on Friday night.
Jessica Jones, senior class president, prayed and welcomed guests to graduation, shortly after the Bell High School JROTC stood presenting the colors as the “Star Spangled Banner” was played.
Jones offered sage advice to her fellow classmates, “Don’t be afraid of what life hands you, remember the ultimate gift of life is God.”
Joined by the six senior band members for one last performance, the Purple Powerhouse Band played a stirring rendition of “Don’t Stop Believing.”
Senior Class Sponsor Brad Surrency, who is also the Bell High School teacher of the year, then recognized the 25 graduating seniors who attended Bell schools from kindergarten through graduation.
Salutatorian Kailyn Waldron, who graduated Summa Cum Laude from Lake City Community College on May 7 with an Associate of Arts degree, was one of the students who attended Bell schools K-12. Waldron spoke of several fond memories the seniors would forever share, including Grad Night, senior skip days, prom, and working hard in the back room of the dual enrollment classroom.
After asking the graduates if they feel ready for what comes after graduation, Waldron fondly quoted her little sister and rapper Snoop Dog when she said, “I stay ready so I ain’t gotta get ready!”
Waldron ended her address saying, “Stay ready for the world, but never forget the memories we’ve made here.”
Valedictorian Kristin Burke recognized the Purple Powerhouse Band shortly after taking the graduation stage. A longtime band member, Burke said she spent the first 11 years of her life living in New Jersey.
“The horse population there was the same as the cow population here, it just smelled better,” Burke said. “In New Jersey I just lived in a town. Here, the people are as sweet as the tea at Akins.”
Burke urged her classmates to realize that graduation is not the end, it’s just the beginning.
Prior to presenting each graduate with their diploma, Principal Rick Reed, clad in a purple suit, told the audience that he had been with the graduating seniors since they were third graders in elementary school. Reed reminded the students that what they do in the future should not revolve around how much money they want to make.
“Live life as if it were your last day and give God the glory,” Reed said.
Like Reed, Superintendent Don Thomas told the seniors to consider the economic and environmental condition the United States is currently in, and work on leaving it in a better position than it is currently.
Once the diplomas were presented and the school’s Alma Mater sung, Andrea Jones, senior class vice president, walked to the microphone.
“We have made our plans, but been taught to dream,” Jones said of her experience at Bell High School.
After a hurried recessional down the field, the graduates gathered together for the last time in a circle to toss their graduation caps into the night sky.