Baccalaureate Ceremony gives students a chance to express how they feel about their impending graduation


Soon to be graduate Payton Field stands on stage at St. Roberts, hands shaking. As she looks out into the crowd she sees the class of 2019, the people who have taken the journey of high school with her. And they are all together again — one last time before graduation — to share what the past four years have meant to them.

For Payton, the chance to stand and speak in front of her class has always been on her bucket list. So when Tess Bond, one of the student coordinators, asked her to speak at FHC’s Baccalaureate, she knew it was her chance to say some final goodbyes.

“Mr. George gave me a book and I found a really cool quote in the book that I mentioned in my speech,” Payton said. “It basically talked about how life is precious and we should live each day as if it is our last. The whole time [I was reading my speech] I was shaking. I’m surprised that I made it through without crying or stuttering.”

Other students who were given the chance to speak weren’t able to hold back their emotions.

“I decided to speak at Baccalaureate because I needed to tell my classmates that they changed me for the better,” soon to be graduate Jayla Williams said. “They helped me grow up and held my hand when I needed it the most. So, I felt like I couldn’t leave without sharing that with them. The things I said were really personal to me but it felt like I was talking to family while I was up there. I got really soft while I was up there and cried.”

While some students, like Jayla and Payton, expressed their goodbyes and thank yous through speeches, other students took to poetry and music to say farewell.

“I knew I wanted to say something, but I didn’t know what; it was something I had been trying to process,” soon to be graduate Elena Nasser said. “I’ve always processed best through poetry but I’ve never really shared it with an audience before, so it was kind of nerve-wracking. But once I got the idea for “Slowly,” the poem I wrote, about how change creeps up on you, I realized how I could verbalize all the emotion and craziness that is senior year and graduating.”

Baccalaureate gave students a chance to express their fears and joys about their upcoming graduation while also presenting them with a chance to look back and say thank you to all of the people who helped them on their journey to that graduation stage on Tuesday.

“For me, it was a chance to put my feelings about graduating and growing up and moving away into words,” Elena said. “And to connect with everyone else who I think feels the same way. This class welcomed me with open arms when I moved here and has seen me through all my ups and downs and many incarnations as I, and others, figure out who we are. This, for me, was putting that into words and sharing it.”