As Jim Elliot Christian High School graduated 46 students Saturday afternoon, teachers and students reminded the Class of 2007 to always keep God close to their hearts as they travel through life.
The Class of 2007 filed onto the stage of the Temple Baptist sanctuary to face approximately 300 friends and family members gathered to see them off into adulthood.
David Payne, the Jim Elliot High School board president, presented awards to several individuals in the Jim Elliot community, including the Jim Elliot Award to Michelle Lambdin for leadership, grade point average, Christian character and citizenship.
Payne also presented a yearbook to the family members of Doug Buhr, a former board member and school supporter who died last October.
Payne's turn on stage was followed by salutatorian Kristina Wetterman, who encouraged her fellow graduates to go out and make a difference in the world.
Wetterman expressed concern about what she called society's drift away from Christian values and prodded her classmates to do something about it.
"We have said that this should be done, or that should be done. Well, why don't we do it," Wetterman said.
Michelle Lambdin then rose from her chair to deliver her valedictorian speech.
Lambdin removed her cap and replaced it with a tiara while she recalled a passage from the Book of Peter that said the followers of Christ are not a common people, but royalty, who should lead a life of service to God.
"Whether you are 17 or 70, God is calling you to an uncommon life," Lambdin said.
Lambdin pointed out seniors by name and declared the type of service she imagined them doing in their adult lives.
"This is not a time of common men," said Lambdin. "This is a time to be uncommon."
The seniors joined in having communion with Jim Elliot chaplain Dan Lambdin, who recalled the battle between David and Goliath.
In the whole story, Lambdin said, David made two comments about the giant and nine comments about God.
Don't focus on the giants in your life, Lambdin advised. Focus on God and your giant, not might, but will fall.
Kaitlyn Marie Joy Atkins
Clinton Zachary Bonds
Krista Lena Brenner
Amanda Christine Collins
Joey Lee Coots
David Joseph Copeland
Jennifer Lauren Crockett
Jessica Marie Daugherty
Matthew Jeffery Davis
Ernest Anthony DeLosAngeles, III
Dustin Lee Didreckson
Sky Katherene Dilnik
Gregory Andrew Edwards
Michael Louis Elliott
Samuel Atle Evje
Christopher Stephen Galbreath
Brittany Diane Gideon
Stephen Philip Greene
Meredith Anne Huber
Kimberli Jean Hyzdu
Bryan William Kaelber
Daniel Scott Kallis
Michelle Jennae Lambdin
Erika Ann Leary
Amanda Karen Lundy
Samantha Joelle Morris
Jacquelyn Suzanne Neal
Alyssa Rose Newby
Elena Maria Overby
Monique Nicole Paoletti
Gregory Michael Patchen
Kristin Joy Patterson
Lauryn Kelly Phelps
Lindsay Diane Reitz
Paige Ashtyn Rodriguez
Dean Cole Russell
Dianna June Snyder
Kristen Michaela Steffan
Elizabeth Gene Treat
Jana Joy Wall
Alicia Grace Walters
Derrick Petrus Warmerdam
Kristina Louise Wetterman
Justine Renee Williams
Jonathan Michael Wintch
Lauren Leigh Zamarripa
When diploma time came, the seniors stood one row at a time. A progression of childhood pictures flashed on the church's screen as their names were called.
One by one the graduates accepted their tickets out of high school as images of small children - some with giant shoes on, some holding stuffed animals and some with their favorite pets - brought "oohs" and "aahs" from the audience.
After each graduate crossed the stage, Couchman thanked the parents who had brought them this far.
"If it weren't for you, they wouldn't be here, literally," Couchman said.
He then proclaimed the Class of 2007 as graduates of Jim Elliot High School to the cheers of the audience.
As the graduates walked out of the Temple Baptist sanctuary, graduate Matt Davis, 17, threw his hat in the air in celebration.
"I'm just excited to go to college," he later said.
While being congratulated by his mother, senior Dean Russell waited for the feeling of actually graduating to set in.
"It's a whole new stage in life," Russell said. "More responsibility. We have to make our own decisions."
Meredith Huber, 18, however, called the moment bittersweet. Although she's sad to leave, she said, she's glad to be moving on.
Huber, who will be attending the University of California, Santa Barbara in the fall, said she isn't scared to make her way in such a big college after attending such a small high school.
"Jim Elliot's prepared me really well," Huber said.