Graduation was different for pandemic-era Bakersfield seniors
The 2020 senior class graduated from Bakersfield High School Friday, May 22, in the Jerry Taylor Gymnasium. Loosely abiding by COVID-19 pandemic social-distancing guidelines, a limited number of family members gathered to celebrate a challenging finish of high school careers cut short by the pandemic. “We wanted to do something special for them, since they had so much taken away,” Bakersfield R-IV superintendent Amy Britt said.
In spite of missing the last quarter of their senior year, the seniors’ celebration was a special one and included speeches, scholarship award announcements, a slide show, presentation of flowers and a parade through town.
Stephanie Guffey, BHS graduate and current business teacher, was the keynote speaker. Andrea Yount was valedictorian, and Heavan Tiller was salutatorian.
Tiller spoke of the resiliency of her classmates and her hope for the future. “We were born during the upheaval of 9/11, faced changes throughout our time in school, and graduated in the midst of a pandemic,” she said. “It seems that storms will always happen throughout major events of our lives, but I like to think this is because we can meet life’s challenges and pave the way for those who come after us, just as our forefathers did in times past.”
Yount, a talented artist, spoke of memories throughout the school years while painting a beautiful landscape, which she presented to the class after her speech, along with a blank canvas symbolizing the years to come and memories not yet made.
Brady Ingalsbe and Andrea Yount were each presented with the Outstanding Citizenship Award. The two were chosen to receive the award by Bakersfield faculty and staff due to their character, their high level of involvement in school activities, and their strong leadership. Ingalsbe, whose brother Robbie received the same award when he graduated, spoke about his friend, Jake Lashley, who died during their first grade year at Bakersfield.
Counselor Trudy Summers presented more than $320,500 in scholarships to the graduates during the ceremony before diplomas were presented to each graduate. (See next week’s Times for a list of graduate scholarships.)
After this year’s graduation ceremony, the seniors paraded in their cars through town, where they ended the event. The seniors gathered together for one last time, turned their tassels and tossed their blue-and-white caps into the air.
A video of the BHS graduation ceremony can be viewed on the Ozark County Times Facebook page.