Our 132nd Annual Commencement for the class of 2019 is one for B-U Buccaneers record books.
Certainly, having Chris Wallace from the class of 1976 deliver our keynote address let the graduates know that by age 60, they can have lived life just as excitingly. Chris is an American professional basketball executive and scout. He most recently served as general manager of the NBA Memphis Grizzlies. The B-UHS graduate began working in the NBA in 1986 and was the general manager of the Boston Celtics for ten seasons. Wow!
Among the great gems of wisdom Chris shared to the senior class was his lesson learned that on this spinning Earth, Buckhannon is one special place. He did not appreciate it back when he graduated, but now he recognizes the distinct qualities of his hometown. His voice broke with emotion when he shared from his heart. Feeling my spirit soaring, the lesson learned for me that evening was an exclamation point to Chris’s observation.
What followed was a rare experience of joy filling the Rockefeller Gymnasium on the beautiful campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College. During the rafter-lifting rendition of “He’s Never Failed Me Yet!” by the B-UHS Concert Choir under the direction of Jeremiah Smallridge, the entire stadium joined the choir, clapping in rhythm. The spirit of celebration, especially the solo sang to heavenly perfection by graduating senior Destiny Babbitt, gave me cold chills. Songwriter Robert Ray created a
masterful song with its driving beat and enormous appeal. What a powerful gospel work that reaches a grand finale! Never has the song been sung so well, nor could it be improved upon. Impressive!
The entire audience rose to our feet in celebratory acclaim, giving a spirit-filled standing ovation. Chris
Wallace proclaimed Buckhannon-Upshur special. We answered a resounding “YES” just minutes later.
The highlight of the evening for the 247 seniors came when B-U Principal Edward Vincent presented them to Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus, Upshur County Schools Superintendent, who declared all worthy of receiving their diplomas. A 14-year journey for our seniors came to a close, and a new one began. As I handed diplomas to these young cherub-looking students and grasped their hands, looking into their wide eyes, I found myself recalling the words of King David: “I have been young, and now amold; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” (Psalm 37:25 KJV)
After the recessional, I made my way from the stage into the joyous throng of new graduates surrounded by their families and friends. Just one more thank-you was in order to complete a rare and wonderful experience. At last I found Destiny Babbitt, the choir soloist. I took her hand in gratitude for pouring her heart out for all of us, leading us in a wonderful moment of this evening’s peak life experience of high school graduation. She graciously accepted my thanks and told me she is following
my healing profession into nursing, with her eyes on the goal of being a trauma nurse. Chris Wallace may say it was a three-point play!!!
Lesson learned: Out of everything we do as the Board of Education and as a community, investing in a young person’s life is the best shot we can take.