It's Happening: A Parade of 2017 BHS Graduates

By Julie Perine on May 28, 2017 from It’s Happening via

I shouldn’t have hit the snooze. By the time my feet hit the floor, it was after 8 a.m. and graduation was going to start at 9. As I awaited the last drops of my morning dark brew, thoughts swirled in my head. I still needed to pick up some camera equipment and I wasn’t sure if ceremonies were going to be at Wayne Jamison Field – as was planned and as is tradition - or because of a threatening forecast, inside Bridgeport High School. That made a difference. As if on cue, a text came across my cell. It was from BHS Principal Mark DeFazio and it simply read, “Outside.”
I stuck my head out the front door and saw plenty of rain clouds and the temperature wasn’t ideal for what I had planned to wear. I quickly showered and chose another outfit, ran my errands and made my way to the same spot I have stood for the past handful of years: Just on the other side of the tunnel where I like to video the procession. I ran by the line of graduates, hugged a few necks, and took my place just as I heard either Alice Rowe or Mary Francis Smith – I’m not sure which – say there was three minutes until show time.
I made it.
Flipping the camera into video mode, it all felt right. The band began to play “Pomp and Circumstance” and after their junior class escorts came the graduates of the BHS class of 2017 – two by two. As she always does, Smith straightened the guys’ neckties, sashes and such. Each girl was handed a rose and off the couple went onto the field. I smiled as each walked by and just when I wasn’t expecting it, I was flooded with emotion. Yes, these were 17- and 18-year-old men and women who were about to start college, join the workforce and do other adult things.
But as they walked by, I remembered how and why many of them walked into my life. I’ve known some since they were little tots and played at my house with our son, Jacob, or had been babysat by one of my daughters.
My mind went back to when Jake accidently hit Jared Massie in the head with a baseball bat and instead of going on family vacation that night, he went to the hospital. That kid called us the next day to tell us he was ok and would get to go to the beach after all. He and Jacob went with me to lots of county fairs one summer. I remember him singing to the radio in the backseat.
I remembered when Taylor Abraham was in a speech contest I judged years ago at Simpson Elementary. I realized I never told her that although she didn’t win, I scored her above all the other contestants.
Trey Conner can’t be graduating. He was just a tiny tike when I used to ride to and from work with his mom Eva. Heck, maybe he wasn’t even born yet.
Seth Friel and Jake used to play Jerry West basketball together. His dad Travis was the coach. I remember those kids running up and down the gym floor of Bridgeport United Methodist Church like it was yesterday.
A couple years later, Timmy Kinney was on the team. He broke his nose one year, but he kept on playing.
I could go on and on. 
In addition to doing some reminiscing, I was feeling very proud of these kids. I got to know some of them two years ago when I traveled to Europe with my daughter Madame (Deanna Perine) Garrett and her BHS French students. They were mature and responsible then - and even more so now. 
To the class of 2017, I offer my very best wishes for a happy, exciting future. I pray you follow God's lead in your life and listen as he places you where you will, no doubt, make a difference in this world. 
The words of Mr. and Miss BHS, Titus Smith and Hannah Dunn, were spot on, as were Senior Class President Quinn Stalnaker, Vice President James LaRosa and vocalists Rebekah James and Brianna Oldaker. There were plenty of tears throughout the nearly two-hour commencement. 
Lucky for me, my hasty dressing that morning provided some timely comic relief. After it was all over, I discovered a black sport sock inside my pant leg.
I shouldn't have hit the snooze. 

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