05/24/09 — Private schools hold graduation ceremonies Friday and Satuday

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Private schools hold graduation ceremonies Friday and Satuday

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on May 24, 2009 2:00 AM

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Wayne Country Day School graduates toss their hats into the air after Friday morning's ceremonies.

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Faith Christian Academy valedictorian Lindsey Godwin gives her speech to the graduating Class of 2009 Friday evening.

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Wayne Christian School graduate Adam Combs hugs his 13-year-old sister Victoria Combs after receiving his diploma Saturday morning.


News-Argus Staff Writer

High school graduation season has officially begun, with three area schools holding ceremonies this weekend and 59 diplomas handed out.

Wayne Country Day School began the trend, moving its graduation to a morning event this year. It took place at 11 a.m. Friday in the school gymnasium.

It was the 38th commencement for the school, noted Headmaster Todd Anderson.

"I'm pleased and proud of the 17 almost-graduates," he said at the outset, flanked by the entire class on the stage. Next year, those same students will be attending colleges as far north as Pennsylvania and as far west as California, Anderson said.

Co-valedictorian Ellen Elmore plans to attend UNC-Chapel Hill, while her counterpart, Will Nolan, is going to University of Southern California.

Two educator awards were handed out prior to the distribution of diplomas. Excellence in teaching awards are given annually to the teachers who had the most effect on the graduating class during high school. The lower school teacher recipient was Cindy Holloman, with Wanda Love, "the finest math teacher in the United States of America," according to Anderson, being awarded the recognition for the upper school.

The co-valedictorians this year were separated marginally in their grade-point average, the headmaster said. So it only made sense to have Ellen Elmore and Will Nolan deliver a portion of their speeches together.

"I took seven AP classes over the past three years," Ellen began.

"I took seven," Will replied.

"But I took more exams than you," said Ellen.

"I can swim faster," Will said.

"I can swim longer," Ellen said.

"Why are we arguing?" Will asked.

"Maybe it's because of the competition."

With that, they went to neutral corners and spoke as individuals.

Will shared one of his first memories when he arrived at the school in sixth grade, only to later realize just "how small the school really is." It turned out to be a positive, he said.

"The sizes of the class create competition," he said, from which he "learned the importance of respect for others ... and the importance of family" which paralleled the support he received from his own family. Likening it to a roller coaster, he said the whole experience may have had its ups and downs but ended up in a "safe and stable place."

Ellen, too, reflected on her feelings of tradition and family and the wide variety of educational opportunities she had been afforded at the school.

"Being able to make my journey from grade to grade down that hallway has made me feel like I have been a part of something more than just waking up at 6:45 (a.m.) for 2,616 mornings of the last 16 years," she said. "I have been part of a family. Though headmasters, teachers and classmates would come and go, I knew that I could always find someone at Wayne Country Day School who knew me."

Faculty advisor Diane Price, chair of the English department, was chosen by the seniors as their commencement speaker. Despite all the reading assignments they may have had to do along the way, she stressed that it is a most valuable habit to acquire.

"Reading makes you smarter -- you have more brain cells right now than before taking that journey with Jane Eyre or running along the fence with Benji," she said. "Reading increases the capacity of the brain. Think of all the characters you have met in books."

She encouraged the graduates to continuing reading in

order to lead more full lives.

"Our identities are determined by what we read after the professors are through with us," she said. "And when you return, bring us a list of books that you read because people who love to read, love lists of books almost as much."

Faith Christian Academy

Ceremonies at Faith Christian Academy were held Friday evening in the church auditorium, with 24 diplomas handed out.

Rev. Dann Patrick, pastor of Faith Free Will Baptist Church, delivered the commencement address. Student speakers were Lindsey Godwin, valedictorian, who plans to attend Campbell University, and Bethany Dale, salutatorian, who is going to Bob Jones University.

Lindsey expressed appreciation to the teachers and administrators, as well as family and friends who contributed to the successful educational experience. Then she devoted her remarks to her classmates.

"We have arrived," she said. "We came together, mostly in kindergarten but some later in this journey. When we met, we were strangers. Now we are family. We have waited patiently for this moment, prayed for its coming and crossed off calendars in anticipation, but now that it is here, I am both excited and saddened, for it means leaving the people who inspire me the most -- my friends. As we go our separate ways, I want to remind you guys of our class verse, John 15:15, one that was so fitting for us -- 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.' I pray that as we close this chapter in our lives and open many new ones, Christ will be seen in us."

Bethany thanked her fellow graduates for the friendships cultivated over the years.

"It seems like yesterday we were in junior high together," she said. "Now it is time to go our separate ways. As we do, I want to challenge you to always do your best and live for the Lord. The only place to find true joy is in the center of God's will. As we will make new friends in college, may we never forget the wonderful memories that we have made."

Wayne Christian School

Wayne Christian School's ceremony was held Saturday at 10 a.m. in the gymnasium with 18 students honored.

Rev. Fred Clifford, administrator emeritus, gave the commencement address. He was very familiar to the students, having once been the school's headmaster.

Valedictorian Allison Rose, who will attend N.C. State University in the fall, even made reference to that in her remarks.

"Twelve years ago on this very day, Adam, Bradley, Kyle, Jonathan, Justin, Brock, Johnny, Josh Powers, Katie and I were handed our kindergarten diplomas by Mr. Clifford, and we cannot express how much joy it brought to our hearts that he gave us our high school diplomas today," she said. "Thank you, Mr. Clifford, for being a man of godly character that all of us can look up to for guidance. You cannot imagine how much we have missed your daily intercom devotions in the mornings."

In his remarks, Clifford acknowledged the kindergarten memory, pointing out to the graduates, "You have changed somewhat since then."

The chapter of being a high school student has closed, he said.

"Tomorrow will come and with it challenges and adventures, which means you will turn the first page in the next chapter of your lives," he said. Among the future themes they can anticipate, he pointed out, will be college and marriage, the latter a subject he broached often when he taught a Bible class at the school, advising them to wait until at least age 25.

In her remarks, Allison, who has been at the school for 14 years, said she considered herself fortunate "to be graduating from a school where teachers pray, encourage and help their students succeed not only in their studies but also in the Word of God."

Salutatorian Ryan Clarke plans to attend Liberty University. He reminisced about class trips and lighter moments, before reflecting on the poignancy of the occasion.

"The memories of all that we have done will go with us, but the days themselves are gone," he said. "C.S. Lewis once said that, 'The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.' We must all choose wisely how we wish to use our own 60 minutes an hour, because we can never pause or go back. Though at times it seemed like school would never end, in retrospect it has all flown by very quickly and sometimes I wish I could slow things down. I will, however, carry fond memories of my time here at Wayne Christian School -- including the ones being made right now -- as I hope we all will."