05/27/12 — With formula for success, students leave their only school

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With formula for success, students leave their only school

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on May 27, 2012 1:50 AM

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The 19 Wayne Christian graduates toss their caps into the air.

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Wayne Christian graduate Christina Greene hugs her parents Dianne and Steven Greene after receiving her diploma Saturday.

The commencement speaker compared their situation Saturday, as the Wayne Christian School seniors waited to get their diplomas and call themselves graduates, to that of the Joshua in the Old Testament as the Lord prepared him to enter the Promised Land. But many of the parents at the graduation ceremonies were anxious, excited, but anxious about what lay ahead once their children crossed over.

"We're obviously very proud of her," the Rev. John Harry said of his daughter Ellen. "But we're nervous, too. Today, she's my little baby, and somehow tomorrow, society says, 'you're free.'

"I think as a parent, have we really done all we can? I don't think we're not scared. But we're excited about the promise of the future."

Similar feelings were being voiced all around the room in which the 19 graduates and their families gathered after they turned their tassels and left the -- finally air conditioned -- gymnasium for the final time.

"It's my first child to graduate," said Lynn Swets, whose daughter Jessica began her sophomore year at Wayne Christian after they moved from Wisconsin. "I'm excited for her. Sad she'll be leaving me, but I'm holding on. She's going to Appalachian State and I have a cousin there, so I'll see her."

Even the graduates were looking out on the day with mixed feelings.

"I'm going to miss everything -- sports, friends, best friends," said Chandler Harrell, who plans to go to Wayne Community College for two years before transferring to a four-year school. "College is going to be a whole lot different than high school. There's a lot of emotion. It's hard to put it into words."

The emotions were running especially high for Harrell who was one of the many students in the class who have been at Wayne Christian since K4 or K5.

"I loved it," he said. "You have friends who you started here with. You have friends who started here and who left, and you have friends who came in. It's cool seeing all the changes through 13 years at one school."

But as Diane Greene, put it, "this is it."

"We have been looking forward to this day. It's a blessed day. I can't help but cry," she said as her daughter, Christina Greene laughed at her through her own tears. "It's very hard. Looking around and knowing this is it. It's been a great time for her."

Those feelings were echoed by Kensey Smith, who also had only attended Wayne Christian.

"I had thought about going to public school, but I'm glad I stayed here," she said, adding that she couldn't believe graduation had finally happened. "It's here. I'm a little scared. Don't know what's coming next, but I'm hoping for the best."

Hoping, or rather praying, for the best was one of the pieces of advice given to the students by administrator Lynn Mooring after the remarks from keynote speaker Dean Hightower, one of the school's founders and grandfather of graduate Carly Hightower.

In addition to comparing their future to that of Joshua's as his new generation prepared to step into leadership roles, Hightower also gave the graduates a formula for success in life -- QT1L4, advising them to carve out a quiet time for prayer and reflection each day, and to love God, look to Jesus every day, live life for Him and long to see Him.

But he wasn't the only one with well-wishes and advice for the Class of 2012.

Salutatorian Taurell Singletary, who also was recognized for more than 500 hours of community service this year and for receiving a $113,00 Army ROTC scholarship to Gardner-Webb University, thanked his classmates for their high school experience and reminded them to "trust in the Lord with all thine heart and not lean unto thine own understanding, in all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."

And at the end, right before leading her classmates in turning their tassels, their final act as students, Valedictorian Britney O'Hara reminded her friends to "be an example to our peers around us," and to "perform our responsibilities with our God-given passion" -- that "God reminds us in His Word that in all we do, we should do for His glory."