This year's Distinguished Speaker Dinner honored the legacy of SBS in its 75th year while celebrating the faculty and staff who make an impact in the lives of SBS families every day.
Distinguished Speaker Dinner
This year’s Distinguished Speaker Dinner celebrated 16 years of the event and 75 years
of Second Baptist School. Uniquely, this year's Distinguished Speaker event was hosted as a dinner instead of a luncheon so that students and faculty members had the opportunity to attend and hear guest speaker, Paralympic Gold Medalist, Jessica Long. Jessica's challenge to those in attendance at the dinner was to live courageously. By telling her life story and the challenges she faced with her disability as a child and continues to face, she had to make the daily decision to persevere and avoid giving up in difficult times. She encouraged the SBS community to do the same.
Director of Advancement Dyanne Kimmel said, “I love the sense of community that comes with attending this event to celebrate our greatest asset, our teachers. I think about the current families who attend and the alumni parents that return each year to give generously in support of our faculty and staff. In the 15 years leading up to 2021, the Distinguished Speaker event has raised more than $5.3 million given to our faculty in Christmas bonuses and salary increases.”
Jessica Long’s Impact
The Cunningham family was particularly impacted by this year’s event. SBS mom Lacy Cunningham shares, “When we found out Jessica Long was going to be this year's speaker, I cried! Not necessarily because it was Jessica, but because it was someone with a disability being represented as the Distinguished Speaker for the school. We have known about Jessica Long for quite awhile and we have cheered for her while watching the Paralympics, we purchased her book and I follow her on Instagram. She is an incredible athlete and role model, and we were delighted to get to spend an evening in the same room as her.” Lacy’s husband and son Oliver ‘30 also attended the dinner.
Oliver, being an aspiring Paralympian himself, was starstruck.“Oliver got a chance to meet her before the dinner. She was incredibly humble and kind, chatting with us and even signed his copy of her book, Unsinkable. Oliver got to hold one of her gold medals and they talked about what adaptive sports he played. She asked if he wanted to be a Paralympian one day. He smiled and nonchalantly said, ‘maybe.”
Lacy went on to say, “Without a doubt our teachers are a big reason why Second Baptist School is so special. These teachers have become family to us. They devote so much of their time, not just in the classroom but throughout the week, to encourage and equip them to be the very best version of themselves. My kids have always felt so loved. We don’t take it for granted that we are at a school where the teachers not only prepare them for the future with a solid education, but more importantly they prepare them to go out into the world and be a light for Jesus.”
Distinguished Alumni and Alumni Parents
Each year, an alum is selected who is accomplished within their field, and exemplifies our portrait of a graduate–someone who is Christ-centered and thinks critically, lives biblically and leads courageously. This year's Distinguished Alumnus, Dr. James Nolen, is a mathematics professor at Duke University and is not only a leader in his field/research, but is also someone who clearly lives out his faith. He is a dedicated member at his home church and continues to serve his family and community with a servant's heart. Unique, brilliant, charming, respectful, humble, compassionate, wise beyond his years, committed to Jesus were all words used to describe him by teachers and peers.
The Distinguished Alumni Parents are parents who have supported Second Baptist School over the years through their time, talents and treasure. Sandra and Harry Craig were active supporters of our teachers, coaches and administrators while their two boys, Kirk '96 and Ryan '97, attended SBS. They served with the athletics department and Sandra volunteered as room mom, class party helper and hostess, field trip chaperone and much more. The Craigs continue to be active members of our community as their six grandchildren have either graduated from SBS or are currently enrolled.
Celebrating 75 Years
At this year's event, we were pleased to recognize all of our past Distinguished Speaker chairs through visual timelines in the lobby. While this event has only been in existence for 16 years, the night is a true celebration for all SBS faculty, staff and coaches over the last 75 years. SBS is where it is today because of every former and current employee of SBS, and this event highlights the time and effort our teachers pour into every student. At this year's Distinguished Speaker event, alumni, alumni parents, former faculty, current faculty/staff and current students were all in one room together, which is really the goal of celebrating 75 years this year: To gather together through community, to reconnect with peers and friends and to celebrate our school and those who have walked these halls in one way or another.
Congratulations to the Office of Advancement and Chairmen Erica and Jamie Walsh and Kristie and Clint Wetmore and the Underwriting Committee on a successful and impactful event!