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‘Original Bulldogs’ say goodbye; Graduations hosted at Harbourside

By Staff | Jun 2, 2008

Harbourside Event Center was filled with cheers as the first full graduating class of Ida S. Baker High School received their diplomas in front of a packed house on Sunday.

As each of the “Original Baker Bulldogs” had their name called on stage, family and friends cheered as if they were rooting on their favorite sports teams.

Principal Joe Vetter honored the 443 seniors who opened the school back in 2004, when they used portable classrooms.

“Tonight the original bulldogs graduate,” Vetter said to much applause. “We have students who will venture forth, out into our nation. And most importantly, we have young men and women who don’t give up.”

Salutatorian Emily Weeks was introduced by her mother Karen, who called her daughter a steadfast friend and strong mentor to her younger brothers.

Though Weeks was attending a school in Duluth, Ga., her freshman year, she was proud to be a part of Ida S. Baker’s Class of 2008.

“Even though I did not have the chance to share in the experience, I have heard more than my fair share of stories about portables because when it rained, we didn’t have to change classes,” Weeks said.

School Treasurer Vanessa Spinozzi presented the senior class gift, a bronze bulldog statue they will always be remembered by. Spinozzi told her classmates they were “making history,” and they “will always have Ida Baker as a home.”

Like Weeks, Valedictorian Kathryn Acord was not at the school during its formidable, portable classroom days. She entered as a freshman in 2005 and graduated in three years with the highest grade point average of any student, past or present.

“We look to the future with a mix of anxiety and excitement,” Acord said. “Starting now we are being given the opportunity to follow our own dreams and begin our own lives.”

She also spoke of the endless possibilities of the graduating class’s futures, how they will always be looking back on who they were during high school.

She added that graduation was the “ceremonial ending” to their childhoods, and they will be remembered for their attitude and character, not their academics.

Lee County Schools Superintendent Dr. James W. Browder happily announced that the seniors had effectively completed “all requirements set forth by Lee County Schools.” Over half of the Ida S. Baker’s honorary class graduated with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.