Candlelight: Seniors Pass the Torch to Juniors

Bill Bowser

Seniors wait in line to receive their awards on paper. These will be awards that they can remember their high school career. Photo Credit / Bill BowserIn rows of blue and white, the eager seniors of Loy Norrix High School’s class of 2017 waited outside of the auditorium for the opening Candlelight.
Candlelight is more than a gathering of over anxious seniors into an auditorium, but as the name might symbolize, it is the literal passing of the torch, from one group of seniors, to the next.
One by one the intermittent pattern of of a boy in blue and a girl in white, enters the dimly lit auditorium. Their names are announced over the speakers, each punctuated with a rounds of applause. Every student proudly marches after the call of their name.
“I’m thinking of how time has flown by,” said senior Travis Grube “Yesterday I was in fifth grade, tomorrow I might be dead. Tomorrow is promised to no one. That’s all I can say. It feels real.”
For many the thought of graduating or leaving and taking the step into their next chapter of life was a distant fantasy, a glimmer on the horizon. Now, after four long years of struggle, that glimmer is finally a reality.  As the students enter the auditorium a projector puts the school’s Loy Norrix logo and an array of stars on the ceiling, creating a bizarre midnight sky.
Proud students and families are filled with pleasure as their family member is called upon in this distinguished moment.
School principal, Mr. Rodney Prewitt and Kalamazoo Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Michael Rice, both made a speech explaining their sense of pride in the accomplishments to the class of 2017. The conclusion of Candlelight was the awards. [see bottom of article for full list of awards].
As the last of the awarded students shuffled off the stage, a silence befell the audience, the senior class president, Madeline Skiles and the junior class representative, Alina Offerman, rose to conduct the namesake ceremony, the lighting of the candles.
This tradition that has been upheld for many years over the course of Loy Norrix history. Both Skiles and Offerman delivered a speech, and the junior class pledged to take on the responsibility and role of being a senior. And with that, the flame from the tall, white candle belonging to the senior class, was touched to the blue candle representing the junior class, igniting it.
The literal passing of the torch. As the flames were extinguished, the crowd erupted into joyous cheering as a man in a knightly suit of armor strode onto the stage waving a Loy Norrix flag. As the crowd settled seniors dispersed to their luncheon behind the school, and juniors returned to their classes. Now the air of serious tradition had been changed with sense of festivity as the seniors ate and conversed.
“It’s like, like setting ducklings free in Milham Park!” exclaimed Dean of Students Chris Aguinaga, “I’m proud of the class of 2017. Third senior class I’ve seen here, it’s a very solid, organized group of kids.”
It was more than the seniors who had a sense of accomplishment, the teachers and faculty who had seen the seniors and their growth were as beaming with pride as they were.
“It feels good. It’s been a lot of work. Its fulfilling to move onto the next chapter of my life,” stated senior Ryan Ross.
With their last day at Norrix coming to a close, the seniors whom had walked in those doors wide eyed, nervous freshman back in 2013, walked out the same doors, as students for the last time.
Valedictorian: Lachlan Woods
Salutatorian: Hamza Mohammed Turkistani
Principal’s Knight Of Honor: Emminah Bercia Fields and Alex Neal
Outstanding Leader: Nora Hilgart-Griff
Top Student Athletes: Noel Herman-Cavey and Ashantai Jayde Hale-Sandifer
School Service Award: Christian David Baker
Peace Jam  Award: Sidney Logan Richardson
Community Service Award: Taylor Ashley Denise Brown
National Latin Awards: Maria Louise Egloff, Lauren Elizabeth Hybels, Evan James Wheat, Ian Robert Hawthorne, Maxwell Seth Neeley
Education for Employment/Arts:Lacey Rose Burke, Madeline Elizabeth Jones , Elizabeth Perez-Vazquez, Victoria Marie Zehner, Anthony Joseph Dougherty, Destiny Andre’a Mabon
Heyl Scholarship: Reace Leeann Hammel, Hannah Rose Pittman, Julia Lisette Townley
Excellence in Education:  Lacey Rose Burke, Vaughn Rae Taylor, Ava Chen-Hua Wood, Samuel Avery Ratliff, Hamza Mohammad Turkistani, Lachlan Drew Woods
Kalamazoo Area Math and Science Center
Maileen Leoni Bugnaski, Makaila Lyn Furderer, Addison Jeffrey Krueger, Kevin Lukas Mitchell, Samuel Avery Ratliff, Vaughn Rae Taylor, Evan James Wheat, Ashley Ann Bynum, Ian Robert Hawthorne, Jackson Avery Kujacznski, Jesse Gabriel Pollens-Voigt, Ryan Christopher Ross, Duncan Gregory Wallis Ava Chen-Hua Wood, Lachlan Drew Woods
National Honor Society Members
Jasmine Adams, Grace Augustine, Ebony Bishop, Sophia Boismier, Taylor Brown, Maileen Bugnaski, Lacey Burke, Lauren Cole, Griffin Conley, Brittany Day, Tony Dougherty, Maria Egloff, Reace Hammel, Bailey Handley, Jonah Haw, Nora Hilgart-Griff, Elizabeth Ko, Addison Krueger, Hana Lee, Jillian Lynk, Kevin Mitchell, Alexander Neal, Maxwell Neeley, Sophie Nielsen, Elizabeth Perez-Vazquez, Hannah Pittman, Jesse Pollens-Voigt, Samuel Ratliff, Sophie Snow, Samantha Soria Ramirez, Nicholas Stamper, Vaughn Taylor, Alexis Terrian, Julia Towney, Hamza Turkistani, Erika Wagoner, Alexandria Wallace, Duncan Wallis, Evan Wheat, Carolyn Wilson, Ava Wood, Lena Wood, William Wright, Victoria Zehner
AP Scholar Award Recipients:  Grace Augustine, Sophia Derango, Elizabeth Gbogi, Ian Hawthorne, Addison Krueger, Hana Lee, Hannah Pittman, Duncan Wallis, Lena Wood, Brittany Day, Maria Egloff, Jonah Haw, Joseph Hruska, Edward Landon, Marcel Noble, Samuel Ratliff, Evan Wheat, Victoria Zehner
AP Scholar with Honor Award recipients:  Lacey Rose Burke, Emma Louise Greschak, Makaila Lyn Furderer , Ava Chen-Hua Wood
AP Scholar with Distinction Award recipients:  Maileen Leoni Bugnaski, Nora Kate Hilgart-Griff, Hamza Mohammed Turkistani, Ashley Ann Bynum, Vaughn Rae Taylor, Lachlan Drew Wood