Last Friday evening, GracePoint Church hosted an intimate graduation ceremony for Jim Elliot Christian High School’s 16 seniors.

As students entered the church, they were met by applause from friends and family members excited to see their graduates take the stage as Elliot’s 21st graduating class.

“We’ve grown and matured from the children we were at the beginning of the year to the slightly bigger children that we are now,” joked valedictorian Emmaleigh Barnhardt.

Barnhardt, who will be attending the University of the Pacific in the fall, reflected on her years at Jim Elliot. She recalled the lessons she learned that have helped her prepare for college and looked toward the change ahead as she and her classmates embark on a journey into adulthood.

In her speech, Barnhardt cautioned her classmates about fearing failure. She encouraged them to both anticipate and embrace it, as they confront it in pursuit of success.

“Fail often, and fail faster. Because without failure we can not know what truly works,” Barnhardt said.

As Barnhardt thanked her teachers for helping mold her mind and those of her classmates, she recognized the influence their work has on the school and its legacy.

Barnhardt also thanked her family and classmates for making her time at Jim Elliot an unforgettable social and intellectual experience.

Following Barnhardt’s speech was keynote speaker Stephanie Bulleri, principal at First Baptist Christian School in Stockton.

Bulleri congratulated the students for their accomplishments in and out of the classroom, before emphasizing the importance of maintaining a righteous path.

Bulleri stood at the podium before students, Jim Elliot faculty and members of the audience, relaying the story of King Solomon as a reminder to students to stay true to the ethics of Christianity, and to always trust God’s plan.

“Don’t waste your life on the meaningless pursuits of this world,” she said.

After Bulleri’s speech, counselor Trip Manley led the presentation of diplomas as the audience cheered.

Pictures of the graduates flashed on the screens above the stage while the student’s names were called to receive their diplomas.

After the last name was called, vice principal Karen Guthmiller declared the classmates graduated, which resulted in cheers throughout the church as proud families and friends whooped and hollered in joy.

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