Story by Katie Krahulik
S.S. Seward Institute held a Baccalaureate service for the Class of 2017 on Thurs., Jun. 22 at the Florida Presbyterian Church. Students from the graduating class assembled in the church pews with family, friends, and loved ones to celebrate the completion of high school and to receive blessings and kudos from community religious leaders and academic administrators.
The Class of 2017 Senior Project was to help relocate and reconstruct the Florida Food Pantry, which now sits in a newly renovated building behind the Florida Presbyterian Church. Reverend Judy Anderson thanked the senior class on behalf of the church and Food Pantry.
“Fifty students were here for three hours,” said Rev. Anderson. “They scrubbed, they swept, they carried. They hauled big heavy stuff up lots of stairs. They painted, they carted, they did whatever we needed them to do. As a result, something that would have taken us weeks of volunteer time was accomplished in a morning,” Rev. Anderson commended the students saying, “Every time someone comes in because they need assistance and is helped, that building is your legacy. Your mark is on there now and it will be on there as time goes forward. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Devyn Warner, a member of the Class of 2017 commented, “It was a really good experience. We felt like we were doing a really good thing for the community and it’s just a good feeling.”
The Baccalaureate service began with a Prayer of Invocation by Rev. Anderson, followed by a warm welcome speech delivered by Florida School District Superintendent Jan Jehring, who said, “Although I have not known our students for a long time, I acknowledge that. I have to also admit that it does not take a long time to recognize strong character, and this group of students certainly have shown strong character throughout the year. I have enjoyed getting to know the seniors and I am very proud of their accomplishments.”
Dorothy Buchalski, of St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, read the scripture reading from Proverbs 3:1-8.
The meditation was delivered by Father George Kevorkian, of St. Ignatius Orthodox Church. The theme of his speech shared a message with the famous Beatles song, “All You Need is Love.”
After reading the lyrics, he said, “I will tell you that the only thing that you would ever regret in your life, ever, is that you spent a life without learning how to love another and without learning how to receive love from another. That is the ultimate expression of being a human being.”
A hymn of reflection was then sung, followed by the Charge to Family and Friends given by S.S. Seward Institute Principal, Michael S. Rheaume.
Rheaume wished to offer peace of mind to loved ones saying, “So, please, as we sit here tonight all together, as we look to the weekend in a time of celebration, reflection, and love, have peace of mind that the Class of 2017, as a whole and as individuals, are ready to take that next step. Congratulations to you all and may peace be with you.”
A select choir of students, including some graduating seniors, performed a beautiful rendition of the Tori Amos song, “Winter,” to prefix the Charge to the Graduates, delivered by Senior Class Advisor Stephanie Amorosana.
Amorosana said she knew this class would be a challenge. She talked about the perks of the impending disorganization and indecisiveness commenting saying, “Sometimes this leads you to the best lessons we can learn about ourselves. So now is the time when being indecisive is okay. You have many years ahead of you to figure out the path you wish to take. Now is the time to start thinking about your future, to make some initial plans. Just remember the plans can easily be changed.”
Rev. Anderson sent the seniors off with a final prayer for the graduating class and the benediction was offered by the Clergy. After the service, refreshments were served behind the church and the Food Pantry was on display for viewing.