On Saturday, June 1, our Commencement ceremony celebrated the talented, articulate Class of 2019. All in attendance were impressed with the valedictory speeches as well as the appreciation to the parents and faculty speech. We have reprinted the speeches for you here. Enjoy!
Class of 2019 – Valedictorian Speech – Rebecca Mulley
“Let us be SALT and LIGHT”
Please raise your hand if you have ever been encouraged, inspired, or simply amazed by a member of the graduating class of 2019. I know I certainly have.
I think that we can all agree there is something special about this class. Throughout middle and high school, I’ve heard this a lot but I never really took the chance to consider why. And to be totally honest, at first, I was pretty stumped. I agreed that there was definitely something different about our class but I could not quite put my finger on what it was. Hoping to figure it out, I began to reflect on our time here and everything we have brought to this community.
Together, we’ve taken over a hundred AP classes, won dozens of athletic titles and theatre awards, and logged thousands of hours of community service. Not to mention the many programs, clubs, teams, and community events that trace their origins back to one hopeful idea made by a member of this class. Despite the diversity of these accomplishments, the common thread that weaves through it all is clear; our class is ambitious. We pursue excellence in everything that we do.
But we don’t just save this excellence for ourselves. Rather, we seek to use the gifts God has given us to enrich the community and encourage others to do the same. I think this is the elusive quality that makes our class truly special: we are not only ambitious, we are ambitious encouragers.
As I reflected on our contributions to this school, I was reminded of Matthew 5:13-16 which reads…
13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
As a class, we exhibit these things. Over the past 4 years, we have been the salt and light of Bradford Christian Academy.
Salt enhances and compliments whatever it comes into contact with. It also has many purposes, not only is it essential for life, but it adds flavor, it strengthens, and it preserves.
Our class has become an essential piece of this school. Together, our ambition has enhanced the community around us and our encouragement for others to do the same has strengthened our school.
Light in the same way is a beacon that lights the way for others. The light itself shines brightly but does not keep its benefits hidden away. Instead, it creates a path for others to follow. As a class, we are a beacon of achievement that wants to share the joy of our accomplishments with others. We have paved the way through the unknown to create a legacy for others to follow.
We have shown that we embody the salt and light of our community. And this community has brought us thus far, but now, as we leave a home that has so fundamentally shaped who we have become, we have to remember not to lose these parts of ourselves. God has used this safe community to train us and build up our confidence in these things and although our time here is coming to a close, His call is just beginning.
My challenge for us is this: Use the experiences that God has given us as a class to continue to be individual pillars of salt and beacons of light in every community we venture into next.
As you leave BCA, do not lose your saltiness. Continue to form a firm foundation that enhances the world around you and gives your peers the confidence to succeed. But perhaps even more importantly, don’t harden your heart towards God. Salt that has lost its taste is no longer able to fulfill its purpose. God has an incredible plan for each of our lives and sometimes, this plan may not look exactly how we planned. If we turn away from God during the valleys of His plan, then how can He bring us to the peak? Don’t let the challenges you face in your future steer you away from being used by God to do incredible things.
As we enter into the next phase of our lives, the space our light has to fill will grow exponentially. But just as a single candle is enough to light an entire cave, so is our light able to impact the world. It is easy to feel discouraged by the overwhelming amount of darkness that exists in our world. We log onto social media or turn on the news and are flooded with conflict and injustice and despair. And we can choose to wallow in these things or we can expose the darkness and use our light to reflect Jesus’ love in the world. But we also have to remember in our quest to give light that we have NOT been called to shine our light directly into other people’s eyes. We are able to see many examples of people in our world today who through their attempts to expose the darkness instead cause more blindness and agitation. Our goal is to be a beacon of Christ-like love in the world that others choose to follow to guide them out of the darkness, as the moon reflects the light of the sun through the night.
Do not lose your saltiness and do not stifle your light under a basket. We have already had the privilege of sharing our salt and light with our community and we have to remember to take these with us. It is our responsibility to continue to bless others with the opportunities we have been granted. I am certain that our time at BCA was a fundamental part of God’s perfect plan for each of our lives and if we lose these things, we can never fully live up to what God designed for us. It is no mistake that God perfectly crafted our class to train us to be pillars and beacons in our community so that He can use us to share His love with the world.
So to the Bradford Christian Academy Class of 2019, whatever incredible place your future takes you, my hope is that you will always remember that “You are the light of the world,” so “be strong and courageous. . . for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” and He “loves you with an everlasting love.” “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord. Stand firm. Let nothing move you,” because “this is the moment for which you have been created.”
Class of 2019 – Valedictorian Speech – Trevor Stevens
“Face Your Dragon”
Face the dragon… face your dragon…There is an old medieval legend about Saint George and the Dragon. In the story, a city named Silene is being terrorized by a dragon and in response the cities’ people give the dragon two sheep a day to appease its appetite. However, soon the sheep are not enough to feed the beast, and the people are reluctantly forced to sacrifice their children instead. The monster is not satiated, and the people elect the king’s daughter as tribute. However, before she is thrown to the terrifying creature, St. George arrives and confronts the dragon, killing the beast with a lance. This valor frees the people and the princess from the terror of the dragon.
This legend is more than a mere story or myth; it is an archetypal life lesson. We are given the same scenarios in modern life. We can appease the dragon, naively believing the problems will disappear, and continue on, heads down with our daily lives. The cost of this approach rises every day, just as the city of Silene discovered. We can only avoid responsibility for so long before it consumes us. Our other option is to follow the way of St. George and confront the dragon, requiring risk and a certain amount of determination and courage. However, assuming personal responsibility and acting to defeat your dragon is the only rational response. Doing nothing is not a winning strategy. Choosing not to choose, always leads to a Grimm ending. We must proactively understand that life requires action and bravery.
Goals must be clearly articulated and understood. These goals cannot be predicated on external pressure, the whims of others, the vicarious dreams of family members, or the constraints of societal norms. These goals, your goals, must be genuine, and fueled by your internal drive to succeed. Facing your dragon is daunting enough, but to face a dragon of another’s construction is overwhelming. This journey is your quest.
Additionally, these goals cannot be single-minded. They cannot be one-dimensional, only satisfying a singular element of life. Rather set goals in all facets of life. To succeed in business and industry, or accumulate extensive gold at the cost of your family, friends, or personal integrity is misguided priorities. Success is wholistic.
Follow through with your goal. A future proclamation about a goal is mere rhetoric, without the consistent labor, thought, and strategies to pursue that path to fruition. And this is where the importance of personal responsibility weighs in. As George Washington Carver states, “Ninety-nine percent of failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses.” An excuse is pushing off the dragon that you must face to another day, just as the people of Silene deferred their problem in the legend of Saint George. Excuses are only personal denial and never lead to progress on a goal. They only stall the inevitable confrontation that must occur. It may feel good in the moment to exempt yourself from responsibility, but the truth is you are the harbinger of your own destiny and are 100% responsible for yourself, your actions, and the decisions you make.
When you approach life with this mindset of personal responsibility, you begin to understand that if you want the proverbial gold, you must choose the path to confront the dragon, and live steadfast to yourself and your goals, remaining truthful and honest, never making excuses along the way to the dragon’s lair and your reward.
As renowned clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson states, “Why do dragons hoard gold? Because the dragon represents everything you’re afraid of. Dragons hoard gold because the thing you most need is found where you least want to look.”
So… go… and face your dragon!
Class of 2019 – Appreciation to Faculty & Parents – William Ellis
Good Afternoon. My name is William Ellis, and on behalf of the class of 2019, I thank you all for being here today. I have to say, for sake of transparency, graduation with this class has been emotional. Don’t get me wrong, the thought of finally finishing this part of our formal education and experiencing the freedom of college and adulthood is thrilling! But, the thought of leaving such a fine group of people, so devoted heart, mind and soul to our well-being makes all of us pretty sad.
To the faculty and staff of BCA, I so appreciate that you have made our days full of laughter as much as knowledge. The willingness that this group of people has shown to help us achieve excellence and yet challenge our thinking, or be a good friend when we need it is astounding.
Whenever we needed help, they were there. Whenever we were struggling or were having a rough day, they were there. This goes for every teacher in this room. They were always willing to talk or give me an extra day on an assignment when necessary, and never were rude or dismissive, no matter what they had going on. As committed as our class is to education and excellence, we can’t even begin to touch the tip of the iceberg of commitment our teachers have, and their devotion to excellence.
The definition of a sentinel is to be vigilant, to be a guardian devoted to keep watch. Without a doubt, more than any of us students, more than any of the athletes and more than any of us will ever know, these teachers are true Sentinels. To humor all of our literature teachers here, If I may, I’d like to butcher a Shakespeare quote in the most meaningful way I can. “What a piece of work is the BCA faculty. How noble in reason, and how Infinite in their dedication. In humor and in holiness how they express, and in action how they bear Christ, in care and love how they show His spirit. The teachers of our class, the paragon of Sentinels.”
Teachers, as I call your name, please stand: From our High School: Mr. Burgess, Mrs. McKeown, Mr. Scott Hazelton, Mr. Stolar, Ms. Chaya, Mrs. Gaither, Ms. Gustafson, Mr. Indrelie, Ms. Kennedy, Mrs. MacNeil, Mr. Osterloh, Ms. Panza, Mr. Perusse, Ms. Robie, Mrs. Romig, Mr. Steranko, Mr. St. Germain, Mrs. Teague, Ms. Thurston, Mrs. Zigeler, Mrs. Gaiero, Mrs. Dole, Mrs. Stevens, and Mrs. Kennedy. And From our Lower School: Mrs. Cotterell Ms. Buckley, Ms. Cable, Mrs. Prophet, Mrs. Lynch, Mr. McGowan, Mrs. Scharlach, and Mr. Sullivan.
On behalf of the class of 2019- I thank you.
Speaking of Sentinels- where would we be without our parents. We quite literally wouldn’t be here without them, and they’re the reason we have full stomachs and clothes on our backs. Through and through, time and time again, no matter how much we mess up, they are always there- sometimes to enforce, but always with love in their eyes. It must take a lot of effort to raise a child, so I did some research. I’d like to use a few friends to describe some of the struggles of raising children (I’m not sure how much effort it actually takes, this is just what I’ve heard).
“A two-year old is kind of like having a blender, but you don’t have a top for it.” Jerry Seinfeld
“When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out.” Erma Bombeck
“Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the sidewalk before it stops snowing.” Phyllis Diller
Parents, we all recognize and appreciate the sacrifices, the consoling, the coaching and the growth, all of the stress time and money. We love you all very much, and are so blessed and thankful that God gave us each and every one of you as our guardians.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 reads: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Parents- your love has never failed us, and has helped to shape us into the people we are and will be. Thank you.