Graduates of Jim Elliot High School brought their Christian faith front and center for their graduation ceremony at Temple Baptist Church on Saturday.
Fifty students said goodbye to high school and hello to the real world in hunter green gowns and mortarboards, with a long stemmed white rose in each of their hands. The ceremony was projected through a live video feed so even parents in the back row could easily see the class.
Principal David Couchman encouraged the audience to invite the Holy Spirit into the chapel and their hearts for the duration of the ceremony.
“We are so proud to send these servant minded young men and women out into the community,” he said.
Randall Blythe was recognized with the Jim Elliot award and scholarship.
Couchman, who will move to a new school next year, was presented with a crystal eagle in recognition of his years of dedication to Jim Elliot High School.
Daniel Garza and Shay Lynne Voorhees presented the senior gift to the school, a scholarship for a student who will be a senior next year.
Three students were recognized for earning grade point average of above 4.0 and each gave a speech on how their time at Jim Elliot has changed them for the better.
For Clayton Silva, the senior service trip to Catalina Island brought him closer together with his classmates.
“There’s something about digging, raking and shoveling that brought us all down to one level,” he said.
Carson Murphy transferred to the school from a public high school, and said she never felt more welcomed into a group.
“After all the late nights of studying, nerve wracking exams, and 26 report cards (yes, I counted) we made it here,” she said.
Courteney Coots shared a story of how training for a half marathon taught her perseverance, and how her relationships at Jim Elliot gave her strength.
“They say the sky’s the limit. But considering the God we serve, I’d say it’s only the starting line,” she said.
Six students turned on their musical skills for an acoustic performance of a contemporary Christian song.
Coots, Austin Best, MacKenzie Freed, Kylee Ingraham, Lanae Mandeville, and Kaitlyn Nimmo played guitars and sang “Revelation Song,” by Phillips, Craig and Dean.
Freed was also the salutatorian, and prefaced her remarks with an apology to all the teachers she argued with in class.
“We are such a well rounded class, I can’t believe it. We are so versatile, but we mesh together so well,” she said.
In a second musical performance, Shelby Croft and Breanna Sanford performed “I hope you dance,” by LeAnn Womack on guitar.
Valedictorian Nathan Buhrkuhl introduced himself again and again, highlighting different aspects of his life: basketball player, student, member of his family.
“But that’s not who I am. I am a child of the one true King,” he said, a nod to a Matthew West song called “Hello, my name is.”
To his classmates, his message was to keep their identity as faithful Christians in the center of their lives as they grow up.
Finally, it was time for the main event. When each student’s name was read, a short slideshow of childhood photos played over the projector, ending with a senior class photo and a major grin on each student’s face.
After a closing prayer and a thank you to all the parents in the audience, the new graduates filed outside to the lawn to cheer, high five one another, and toss their green caps high into the air.
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.