Grace Christian commencement seen as 'starting line,' not ending

Jun. 07, 2013 @ 04:59 AM

Grace Christian's Class of 2013 has been on a path together to get to its graduation. For some of the seniors, Thursday evening's commencement exercises in Grace Chapel were 14 years in the making.

While many diverse paths and all types of challenges are now ahead for the graduates, as all 21 seniors in the class are going on to college or to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, Headmaster W.E. Carver Jr. was among multiple speakers who, as one last lesson to the class, let the seniors know they always had a home and prayers from the school.

Valedictorian Matthew Strickland let his fellow classmates know the end of their time at Grace Christian signals much more of a start than a conclusion.

"We're at a starting line here," Strickland said, "and I know this group will go out and accomplish great things."

Strickland spoke about the academic mentorship he and his class has received. He also addressed the spiritual growth teachers and pastors have imparted.

Salutatorian Kori Godwin, citing a bit of stage fright, turned to poetry with her address.

"In two short years, you welcomed me in, even though I was a stranger, you welcomed me as a friend," Godwin said.

"This class means more than anything to me," she said, while also going on to speak about a new journey, new challenges and having been given confidence to believe in God and herself.

The class accepted $363,000 in scholarships and was offered more than $1 million.

The Rev. Mike Sanders, visiting from The Open Door Church in Chambersburg, Pa., spoke called upon the graduating seniors to "stand up in a sit-down world."

"God calls you to be counter-cultural and go out and make a difference in the world around you," Sanders said.

Potential is one of God's finest gifts, he said, but with the gift comes the responsibility to use that potential to the greatest ability.

As rain poured on the chapel's roof, and Sanders was concluding his address, the power went out — leaving the sanctuary mostly dark.

"What a great conclusion," Sanders said as he left the podium.

Lauren Gunter, Kaycee Murr, McKayla Wilkie and Strickland were the four students in the class to attend Grace Christian from kindergarten through 12th grade.

"Our compass is the Bible, guys," Strickland said.

"In the forest of life, look at your compass and know what God's plan is for you," he said. "The world can be a dark forest at times. Take faith and encouragement in that if we fall seven times, we will rise eight times."