Grace graduates challenged to be individuals
The overwhelming message to Grace Christian School seniors from speakers Tuesday night was simple: don't conform.
In her commencement address, Lisa M. Chapman, the executive vice president for instruction at Central Carolina Community College, encouraged the 19 graduates to stick to their faith and their beliefs as they transition from what might have been a “comfortable” environment for them.
“Don't conform, be transformed,” Chapman said. “You need to know what you believe and why. It's no longer enough to simply believe something that someone you know and admire believes.”
She read from Romans 12:1-6 and told seniors they should remember how much they are appreciated.
“Be humble, but don't let that lead you to misunderstanding how important you are,” she said. “God wants to use all of us to do extraordinary things. He wants to use you, but you have to be willing.”
Valedictorian Samuel Holt listed things graduation could be compared to, such as an expectant mother's labor.
“We've come to term, and it's time to have some babies; and when I say babies, I mean the fruits of our academic labors,” he said to laughs from the audience.
On a more serious note, he spoke of the transition from high school to college or work or wherever his classmates end up as “the beginning of our lives.”
“Don't get lost in the celebration,” he said, also encouraging the seniors to not be changed by what other people think or say about them. “Never lose yourselves, and never give up on God because he never gives up on you.”
Salutatorian Anna Haddock said it had been a year to remember and that God had put each of the seniors where they are. She also encouraged her classmates to remember this moment.
“Make a plan, set a goal, work towards it,” she said, “but never forget to drink in this moment, because you'll never get it back.”
Joel Murr, interim pastor of Grace Chapel Church and the chaplain at Grace Christian School, reminded the graduates of Jeremiah 29:11 – “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
“God has a plan for your life,” Murr said. “We celebrate the past, but we look forward to the future. I challenge you to attempt something big for God.”
Grace Christian graduates will be attending 11 different colleges in the fall, including Campbell University, Guilford College, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Bill Carver, the headmaster of Grace Christian School, said the senior class had earned over $2 million in scholarship offers.
“It's significant that we were able to attain that much recognition,” he said. “It says that they've worked hard and they were able to [earn that].”
Carver closed the night speaking directly to the class of 2014.
“We don't emphasize it enough that we love you,” he said. “It’s been a privilege to see you grow up and develop.”
Several students earned awards. Isaac Kruger won the Kiwanis Club of Sanford Award. Julia Husk earned The Jon McGinnis Scholarship and a $2,000 scholarshp from the Sanford ABC Board. Joe Urrutia also won a scholarship from the ABC Board. Evan Kannarr, Anna Murr, Micah Welborn, Holt and Kruger were recognized as members of the 14 Year Club, a group of students that spent all 14 years of their education at Grace Christian School. Emily Ames won the Graham Roberts Gould Memorial Scholarship, and Aaron Ayers received the Timothy Award, both awards for Christian testimony and character.
Graduates include Emily Thresa Ames, Aaron Trent Ayers, Joel Antonio Benitez, Cameron Thomas Carlyle, Elisabeth Rebecca Carver, Jonathan Robert Druther, Karinda Vera Farrant, Robert Daniel Fulton, Anna Kaitlyn Haddock, Samuel Ellis Holt, Julia Raye Husk, Evan Vladimir Kannarr, Isaac Eugene Kruger, Hugo Lemus, Salvador Leonidez, Anna Elizabeth Murr, Flor Elizabeth Ortega, Joe David Urrutia and Micah Lee Welborn.