Jonah: Good evening students, staff, families, friends, and honoured guests. Thank you for welcoming our graduating class of 2014 to tonight’s ceremony.
Jonah: “Sam was described by several of his early years teachers as being shy and withdrawn. But they also described him as a ‘fighter.’ Sam would consistently try his best and never gave up easily.” This was said by Ms. Applebaum of Sam Baker five years ago when he was awarded the Reach High award at our Leo Baeck graduation. The shocking news of Sam’s passing this past October came with deep sadness, as he was an amazing classmate and friend to all.
Dana: This evening, the Leo Baeck Graduating Class of 2014—if you could please rise, [they rise] thank you [they sit]— will be honouring Sam by awarding the first ever Sam Baker Memorial Award for Achievement in the Arts to a graduating student for outstanding contribution to the arts, which Sam was deeply passionate about.
Dana: Sam’s kindness and jolly personality could light up a room. He had a quirky sense of humour that he was never afraid to share with those around him. Sam was proudly unique and uniquely proud. He really found himself and outgrew his early shyness on the stage, delivering dazzling performances in High School Musical, Joseph, and the choir, and who could forget his impeccable impersonation of Rabbi Katz in one of our graduation projects. Thanks to our amazing community, our class has raised funds in honour of Sam which will go towards enhancing Leo Baeck’s performing arts program.
Jonah: Sam’s shining moments on stage were always accompanied by his strong morals and unwavering modesty. The humility Sam showed after winning the Reach High Award at our graduation—a reaction of utter surprise—was a true testament to his character; he never was one to boast about his accomplishments. It was beautiful to see how honoured Sam felt, especially by winning alongside the valedictorian award named after his grandfather, Dr. Gerald Ian Baker.
Jonah: Sam’s devotion for the arts rang throughout the halls of the school that he poured his soul into. His sweet singing voice and his natural stage presence brought joy to those who watched him, and to himself as well. This award is dedicated to Sam’s love for performing and his confidence to let his true colours shine.
Dana: Sam touched all our lives with his huge smile and his huge heart. Throughout our years at Leo Baeck and beyond, we all shared moments with Sam—moments that we will cherish forever and moments that we will not forget. We know that this award will carry his legacy and his memory for many years to come.
Dana: We are thrilled to announce this year’s recipient of the Sam Baker Memorial Award for Achievement in the Arts, and we are told that she is a student who profoundly understands that the arts uniquely represent a subject area that nourishes the soul as well as the mind. In addition to making beautiful art work and commitment to risk-taking performances, she is able to reflect deeply on the greater personal and global implications that the arts provides. She possesses not only the skills needed, but also the perseverance and dedication to the artistic process, producing consistently outstanding work in both the Visual and Performing Arts.
Jonah: We are honoured to present the first ever Sam Baker Memorial Award for Achievement in the Arts to Mia Krajden.