Forty-one students graduated from Eastern Mennonite School on Sunday, June 2 during its 101st commencement ceremony.
Commencement speaker Maria Archer, K-8 principal, encouraged the students to find their story, sharing a story from her own childhood that shaped her and her family many years ago in rural Mississippi where her parents were church planters and community organizers.
“Even in kindergarten, the story of you, had begun, your personalities were developing,” she noted, holding up three cards created by kindergarten students in the school year 2006-7; those three students were part of Eastern Mennonite Elementary School’s first kindergarten class and were part of the class of 2019 on Sunday. Read her full presentation.
A theme throughout the weekend was the closeness of the class of 2019, their desire to have all voices be heard, their spirit of service and sense of fun and competition. The class gift was a $4,500 contribution to the school’s Build a Bridge campaign. Each student will have their name engraved in a brick as part of the pavers leading up to the new covered bridge, which will provide a covered pick up and drop off spot and connect the newly renovated elementary school with the middle and high school building.
In keeping with tradition, graduates handed Justin King, high school principal, a “gift” as they received their diploma. Final graduate Felicity Zimmerman explained… building blocks and bricks of various sizes represented their support for the bridge project, while regalia memorized King’s first year as principal.
The high-achieving class had nearly half of its members honored for earning a high school grade point average of 4.0 or higher (made possible by taking advanced placement and college-level classes).
Graduates’ plans include service assignments, joining the work force and pursuing further academic studies at the following institutions:
Agnes Scott College
Blue Ridge Community College
Christopher Newport University
College of William and Mary
Deep Springs College
Eastern Mennonite University
Franklin and Marshall College
James Madison University
Massanutten Technical Center
New Comprehensive School, Pottsdam Germany
University of Florida
University of Maine
University of Richmond
University of Virginia
Virginia Commonwealth University
Warren Wilson College
Earlier in the weekend students, families and guests took part in a baccalaureate service where Kevin and Sandy Byler, parents of Jesse Byler, spoke on the theme, “What do you do with a chance?” They shared a video of a children’s book by the same title and urged students to pay attention to the chances God places before them.
Concert to be broadcast
Music was an important part of the weekend events, with Touring Choir sharing at baccalaureate, a full commencement concert on Friday night that featured student performers work from the last quarter, and two opportunities for the seniors to sing their class song, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”
WBTX radio will air a recording of the commencement concert on Tuesday, June 4 from 3 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 8 p.m.
All photos by Lindsey Kolb.