A cluster of thunderstorms passed over Baker County the afternoon of May 31 but cleared out in plenty of time to avoid wrecking the Class of 1987’s second graduation ceremony as they did some two-and-half decades before.
About 7 pm several dozen ‘87 graduates or family members of deceased graduates gathered at Memorial Stadium before the same stage that the Class of 2012 would cross the following night.
They heard from former Baker High principal Danny Boutwell, classmates, former schools superintendent Tim Starling and others before their names were called to accept diplomas as a few hundred friends and family cheered them on.
“Aren’t you glad we won’t be called that class anymore,” said ‘87 grad and Macclenny dentist Dr. Margaret Cannon, who welcomed everyone to the event.
She and other speakers reminisced about what high school was like in the late 1980s. There were no cell phones and no computers, but you still had to pay your past due library fees to receive a diploma, as Mr. Starling reminded them.
“I can still remember standing here 25 years ago on that Friday afternoon, or Wednesday afternoon, whatever day it was, but it was extremely wet and I remember begging people not to bring beach towels ... Those were the good ol’ times,” said Mr. Boutwell. “For you, the Class of 1987, I sincerely hope this event brings some sort of closure, some type of fulfillment to an event that was cut short that was very important to you. I hope this means a lot to you.”
The event was particularly heartfelt for Mary Crawford, whose son Lance Crawford, died in a scuba diving accident five years after a torrential storm halted his and other senior’s graduation.
“It was good in a way, but sad in a way,” Ms. Crawford said after the ceremony. “... Good because I was representing him, but sad because he couldn’t be here.”
Lance was third in his graduating class and aspired to enter the oral surgery field at University of Florida at the time of his death.
“He was supersmart, outgoing and loved by everyone,” said Ms. Crawford.
Former Superintendent Tim Starling got his second chance at offering words of wisdom to the graduating class of 1987 last week.
He said, “I tell you what I would’ve said 25 years ago. Be the best you can be. Do what’s right and treat other people the way you’d want to be treated — live the Golden Rule.”
After the ceremony, organized by BCHS English teacher Kelley Norman, district facilities director Denny Wells and others, the graduates held a reunion at Calendar’s in downtown Macclenny.