Belhaven General Alumni Association to hold homecoming

Published 2:26 pm Friday, May 3, 2024

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The Belhaven General Alumni Association will host its sixty-second homecoming celebration on May 10 – 12, 2024. The theme for this year is Still Moving at 62. Festivities will officially begin with the arrival of alumni on Friday morning and the highlight of the day will be the annual banquet at 7:00 P.M. at the Boys & Girls Club located on Pantego Street. Attire is semi-formal and tickets purchased on-site are $45.

The keynote address will be delivered by Madam Machelle Baker-Sanders, Secretary of the NC Department of Commerce and the daughter of Bertha G. Baker, founding member of the Belhaven Alumni Club, and the late Albert Baker. Upon graduation from the former Bath High School, Secretary Sanders attended North Carolina State University where she received a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and a Master of Health Administration from Pfeiffer University. 

In February 2021, Governor Cooper appointed Secretary Sanders to lead the North Carolina Department of Commerce, enlisting her experience as former Administration Secretary (appointed by Gov. Cooper in 2017). She brings to state government more than 30 years of strong management and leadership experience as a seasoned pharmaceutical and biotechnology executive, previously serving as vice president of manufacturing and general manager of Biogen’s largest manufacturing facility in Research Triangle Park. She’s also held leadership positions overseeing manufacturing, global quality assurance and quality control functions at Biogen, Purdue Pharmaceuticals, and Diosynth-Akzo Nobel.

The mother of twin daughters, she is passionate about improving the status of women in our state. She is a member of the International Women’s Forum and OnBoard NC. Some of her work includes creating a Women’s Innovation Network at Biogen and the Lady Cardinals STEM Program for High School students while at North Carolina Department of Administration. 

Sanders is also a strong supporter of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). At the Department of Commerce, she established the first DEI office in the department’s history. Under Sanders’ leadership, the Department actively supports DEI-related business practices, advises on DEI programs for NC businesses, and sponsors DEI initiatives including re-entry programs and neurodiverse internships. She previously served as the Chair of the North Carolina Commission on Inclusion, the North Carolina Complete Count Commission, and the Andrea Harris Social, Economic, Environmental, and Health Equity Task Force. Additionally, she serves on the Interagency Council for Coordi-nating Homeless Programs (ICCHP), the Commission of Indian Affairs, and the North Carolina State University Board of Visitors. As North Carolina’s Commerce Secretary, Sanders serves on many boards, commissions, committees, and task forces, including the Economic Investment Committee, Rural Infrastructure Authority, the board of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, the NCWorks Commission, and the state’s Travel & Tourism Board. She served as co-chair of the Carolinas Pandemic Preparedness Task Force as well as the Caregiving Workforce Strategic Leadership Council. Sanders also serves on the board of one public life science company, BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, based in the Research Triangle Park. As a member of the Board of Directors, she serves on the Compensation Committee and Science Committee. 

Each year, the Belhaven Alumni Association honors selected alumni classes, patrons, former teachers and others for their services to the community, school(s) and/or Club. The honorees for this year are the surviving members of the noninstructional staffs at the former Belhaven High School. The honored classes for this year are BHS Classes of ’54 and ’64, J A Wilkinson Classes of ’74 and ’84 and Northside Class of ’94. The evening will culminate with the presentation of the Alumni Award to a member of the Northside High School current graduating class. The presentation will be followed by a Memorial Service for alumni and former teachers who have transitioned since Homecoming 2023. Saturday’s activities will begin with the mile-long parade featuring a number of local marching groups and community organizations. Parade formation is scheduled to begin at 9:00 A.M. on Railroad Street. Any individual or organization interested in participating should contact Clyde Windley, Charles Slade, Al Whitney or any member of the Belhaven Alumni Club. The Alumni Festival will be held throughout the day on the lawn of the former Belhaven High School and will be coordinated by Charles Slade, Valery Fonville and Veronica Ward. The festival will feature games, a variety of vendors and food trucks with special entertainment scheduled throughout the day. Class reunions will be held throughout the day and will be announced by individual class coordinators. The Alumni Worship Services will be held at the St. Reddick Missionary Baptist Church, Pamlico Street, at 10 A. M. on Sunday. The guest speaker will be Bishop Barbara Satterthwaite Sims, is the daughter of the late Travis and Christine Satterthwaite. After graduation from the former Belhaven High School, she continued her education and earned a degree in Secretarial Science from Durham Business College in Durham, NC. After relocating to New York City, she continued her pursuit of higher education by attending the Manhattan and Suffolk Community Colleges. Bishop Sims received her religious training from Regents University Divinity School in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She completed additional studies at the Refuge Bible College where she earned a certification in Biblical and Theological Studies. She and her husband, the late James E. Sims, pastored a congregation in Central Islip, NY where she now serves as the Senior Pastor. In 2021, she was elevated to the Office of Bishop and ministers at conventions, conferences and women’s retreats. The matriarch of four generations, she resides in New York and has held numerous positions in the Church on local, district and national levels. She has instituted numerous Counseling Services in her local church. A cordial invitation is extended to all to share in the festivities.