- Middle and High
- Beyond Acadmics
- The Arts
The following remarks were written and delivered by Valedictorian Jason Steranko, Class of 2013. His address was delivered at Commencement on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
The great poet Virgil once exhorted the Romans to look with favor upon bold beginnings. Today is one such day as we watch Bradford Christian Academy’s latest Seniors transform into the school’s newest graduates. This sudden alteration is what makes Commencement such an inexplicable event for our conflicted emotions. We’re just not used to singing dirges with our praise. In times like this, change reigns, and with change comes ceasing and beginning. Confucius noted thus: Things have their root and their branches. Affairs have their end and their beginning.
Now, allow me to delve into America’s contribution to the grand philosophical tradition we have inherited from thinkers like Confucius, Socrates, and Kant: the fortune cookie, an invention of 20th century California. The other night I received a revelation from one of these edible oracles: “Enjoyed the meal? Take one to go too!” There are two types of people in the world: those who would recognize this as just blatant self-promotion, and those who, like me, try to extract truth from even a cheap pastry. And, using the analytical abilities I have developed during my time at Bradford Christian Academy, now I will dare to interpret this fortune cookie into a message befitting this occasion.
So, Class of 2013, have we enjoyed this meal set before us? We have created friendships with our fellow students regardless of their class. Our teachers became our close mentors, relating to us as authorities, friends, and even second parents. We pursued excellence for four years, delving deep into academics and achieving victory on the field and on the court. At our proms and dances, we expressed the joy we take in our community, and we relished in it. We have poured ourselves into Bradford, and this school has shaped us into the men and women we are today. We enjoyed high school. We enjoyed the meal.
Now, as the fortune recommended, we should take one to go. During our time together, we have forged chains out of hope, experience, and love – these are bonds that can transcend distance, time, and, through Christ, even death. It is true that we have been blessed with amazing academic and athletic opportunities, but a human being is more than a mind, more than his muscles. This school has given us something entirely unique, something we could never have received at any other school: each other. We have watched each other grow into refined, intelligent, and marvelous individuals, completed by our fellowship within the class and with the rest of the school. This has been a long, arduous, and rewarding journey, and I am so thankful I took it with you. This year in particular, I have become so much closer to you than ever before, and it just feels so bittersweet to think that we are moving on, that we are not going to be around each other daily in work and play. However, I am sure that the Class of 2013 will stay intact; our bond is not easily broken. And as we enter into the next stage of our lives, we need each other. Graduates, we must take a meal to go.
Separation will be painful, but I look forward to the coming days of summer we will spend with each other. In the words of Arthur Schopenhauer, Every parting gives a foretaste of death, every reunion a hint of the resurrection. I pray that God has forever tangled our paths together so that though we die a little as we take our diplomas and say our goodbyes to the men and women who led us here, this building will not be the final resting place of the Class of 2013.
Parents and families, we declare our undying love for you. Your hands carried us to this school, to each other, and here we stand, eager for what God has in store for us and thankful for whom He has given us, you.
Faculty and staff, we express our eternal gratitude for you. You have sacrificed so much time and energy for this day, to see us through to the end. Not only have you given us raw knowledge, but you have tested and honed our abilities to learn from the world and teach ourselves. You have guided us and, in a sense, raised us while we attended this school, and never did your purposes waver from our welfare.
Graduates, we are leaving the place we have called home. This is a funeral; our yearbooks are obituaries for a past that is no longer present. But, we are journeying towards bright and shining futures. This is the first step out the door. This is a new birth, and I am so proud and happy to be sharing this birthday with you.
At the end of the Apocalypse in St. John’s Revelation, Christ declares Behold, I am making all things new. Today, we experience a taste of this renovation. We, the Class of 2013, are leaving the walls of Bradford Christian Academy for the world. Today is ours, as are all others. We will seize our days with what has been given to us here: our knowledge, our skills, and even ourselves, so that we can live sacrificial, empowering, and consequential lives.
The following remarks were written and delivered by Salutatorian Alexa Stevens, Class of 2013. She addressed the community at the Commencement of Bradford Christian Academy on June 1, 2013.
I have suspected for some time that super-heroes walk among us at BCA. For example, when Rob Griffin defies gravity as he hangs midair just before the ball swooshes through the hoop, or when Mr. Osterloh, in one swift movement, takes down and pins a student more than half his age and twice his size, am I watching a super-hero at work? Possibly…
Author Jodi Picoult decribes superheroes by saying, “Heroes don’t leap tall buildings or stop bullets with an outstretched hand; they don’t wear boots and capes.” They are the ordinary people who surround us and who enrich and enliven those around them. By this definition, BCA really is filled with heroes, both students and teachers, and I will carry memories of them and their heroic deeds with me forever.
I remember the day that Kyle received the random genius award, which fits him so perfectly. I just know that he’s going to invent something completely brilliant and artistic that no one in this world has dreamed up, and he will make millions of dollars. And Jason contemplating a deep theory, as only Jason does, when suddenly he’d have an epiphany, then per usual he’d stand up and walk straight into a wall. I will remember Becca, with her love for animals, breeding hamsters for her genetics project in AP Biology. She created daily stories about “bringing up baby.” During AP Calc Louie would always get into a joking argument with Stephanos about which of their home countries was better, Korea or Germany, and Mrs. Sweeney took us all out for Japanese food to settle the score. Every study hall Mark would spend his time tutoring his classmates in Literature, remembering the books and plots so well he could start his own literary analysis website called Marknotes. I will remember all of the miraculous saves Victor made as our soccer goalie. I would begin to despair that the other team might score, and Vic with an uncanny 6th sense for flying soccer balls would pop up out of nowhere and make the save. Hannah is ayoung woman of few words, but when she does speak her words are profound, true, and usually direct. I remember shopping with her, and trying on an interesting outfit, and she would tell me, “It is hideous, take it off,” or “I love it, buy it right now.” Ali transforms herself so completely into different characters on the stage as Iago, Quince, and Maria. She also used this talent in everyday life at school, like when she read a whole play by herself to us in Literature class using eight different voices and characters that kept the entire class laughing. Lauren serves the community with such delight and effervescence that it is contagious. She helped organize and host a cooking day, to make food for a local soup kitchen; she volunteers at nursing homes, for Habitat for Humanity, and of course for BCA. And I remember Mary in her many excellent acting roles, particularly acting as Bridget Bishop, her sassiest character. I will never forget acting Hermia to her Helena in Midsummer Night’s Dream. She called me a “dwarf, minimist, an acorn,” in Shakespearian insults, while we acted out a violent cat fight on stage. I’ve known Christina all my life, but I never really got to know her truly until she came to BCA. She is a young women of integrity and she’s kept our whole class laughing for the last two years, admirably measuring up to her idol, Lucille Ball. Lastly, Kenzie. For me it is hard to come up with just one memory for someone who is as close as a sister, who has shared nearly every moment of my life, but I will always remember her deep and abiding passion in the Dominican Republic. I hold a picture in my memory of this extremely blond, white woman holding hands with little Dominican children and speaking fluent Spanish like she was born to it.
In childhood we had dreams of princesses and action-heroes, but they’ve long since fallen away and been replaced with dreams of college and our practical futures. However, we don’t have to dream about our super heroes anymore, because we have grown up to realize that our super heroes aren’t the spandex encased figures on TV or in the movies, but the real people around us that care for us, and help us in times of need. They are:
- our teachers who encourage us, enlighten us, and admonish us
- our administrators who support us, advise us, nurture us
- and most of all our parents, who gave us a great education, a foundation of faith, and supported our dreams daily.
You are our heroes, as you joyfully launch us into our future, or hold on to us tightly a little longer saying goodbye to those babies we once were. You helped me get through my day to day life. Mr. Osterloh, who is known as the school’s resident Superman, inspired me to become a scientist with creativity and passion in the field, and gave me that extra bit of grace when I thought I was going to fall apart. Mrs. Sweeney has been my constant Wonder Woman over the past seven years as she taught me to love math so much that I am entering the heavily math-based field of engineering. Mr. Perusse, aka Ironman ignited my passion for theatre, my public speaking skills, and my desire to continue in theater as a minor in college. My tired, over worked parents, Elasticigirl and Mr. Incredible who, despite both having full-time jobs and four kids, somehow managed to find time to drive me to one last practice or event, and to listen to my teenage woes. I share my superhero mom with all of you. I know I’m not the only one who goes to her with life’s problems. She always has her door open to talk with anyone who needs a listening ear, wise counsel, or some encouragement to carry on.
So now I turn to you, the students we leave behind as we move on to college, and encourage you to look around you, find your BCA heroes, and treasure all of the moments with these remarkable people. I hope each of you takes a moment to thank those heroes who brought you to this day. They truly help make our lives worth living. Be grateful for all the little things they do for you. And dare to be a hero yourself. Heroes aren’t perfect and they aren’t always strong. Jodi Picoult tells us that heroes, “bleed, and they bruise, and their superpowers are as simple as listening, or loving. Heroes are ordinary people who know that even if their own lives are impossibly knotted, they can untangle someone else’s. And maybe that one act can lead someone to rescue you right back.” So, do superheroes roam the hallways of BCA? They do for me. What about for you?