WHITE PLAINS — The gymnasium at White Plains Christian School was filled to the brim with parents, students, teachers and administrators who gathered to congratulate its Class of 2014 on their graduation.
The ceremony was a dichotomy between reverance and laughter as those in attendance remembered the good times and celebrated the milestone.
And the message was simple:
Seniors, the decision is yours. Who will you follow?
In a traditional moment, Mason Joel Lyons, salutatorian of the eight-member class, remembered his years on campus.
“We finally made it,” he said to appreciative chuckles from the crowd. “From kindergarten to today, we have experienced many moments and learned many life lessons in these walls. And for those lessons, we are forever grateful.”
Lyons said the Christian foundation laid at the school had prepared him well to go out into the world.
“Thank you for being loyal to the school and a messenger of God,” Lyons told Principal Rev. David Tucker.
He looked at the underclassmen gathered in the audience.
“My advice to you is to not take school for granted,” he said. “It will be the best times of your lives.”
In his charge to the graduates, school alumni and youth pastor Larry Norman told the graduates it is time to spread their wings and decide which path their lives will follow.
“You’ve just about made it,” he said with a smile. “You, tonight, are facing a new future. Things can’t stay the same way forever, they change. And this is a change. A milestone.”
Norman told the crowd that the staff members at the school had done its part to the best of their ability.
“You’ve had teachers at this school who have been your guiding light,” he said. “They have given you principles.”
Taking his message from the book of Joshua, Norman told the crowd that the influences of the world are right outside the gymnasium door.
“You are being sent out into a world where you will have to make choices about who you are going to serve,” he said. “You have been given a Christian education and guidance, but now you will have to choose.
“White Plains Christian School has given you structure,” he added. “It may not have given you shelter, because we’re all exposed to the world, but now you are going to be seeing secular influences.
“You are going to have to choose which influences you will have in your lives,” Norman said. “Material things can make you a servant to them. You have a great heritage. Don’t blow it.”
As a token of their years on campus, Norman presented each graduate with a pebble from the school’s landscaping.
“You’ve walked by this every day on the way to class, on the way to lunch and on the way to worship,” he said. “Take this with you and put it in a place of prominence. Remember the lessons you’ve learned within these walls.
Hannah Gale Webb, class valedictorian, told the crowd it was time for the graduates to go out into the world.
“You can never cross the ocean until you lose sight of the shore,” she said. “As we leave the shore into an unknown sea, we may encounter a storm, but we’re survivors.
“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”
Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.