Yesterday evening was a joyous and worshipful occasion as the WCGS community gathered for the 8th-grade Commencement to celebrate the WCGS graduating class of 2021! These distinguished students have spent a varying number of years here. Some have experienced all nine years here, and for others, it has been just a year or two. Whatever the case may be, we are confident that God has used this special place, His school, to build a foundation of faith in the lives of these students.
Family, friends, faculty, and staff, viewing from College Church or online, were welcomed by WCGS Principal, Marc Painter, who expressed deep gratitude for the dedication and support of the communities surrounding each graduating 8th grader. He then extended a worthy congratulations to the graduates for their outstanding accomplishment and growth!
There were plenty of unknowns when we began this school year, and each day was carried out with a unique lens of caution and care. There were many difficulties that made components of this year more challenging than any other, but the WCGS Commencement ceremony provided us an opportunity to recall the unique experiences this graduating class shared as well as speak of the Lord’s faithfulness throughout the year. Mr. Painter invited the graduates to reflect, “This was the year that teachers held class outside in the tents or on the field, recess was added to the junior high, concerts and the musical were performed outdoors, Silent Ball, Spikeball, and 4 Square became a new favorite pastime for many of you, the newly named ‘junior high lawn’ near the ‘junior high doors’ became the new place to hang out before and after school, and numerous opportunities to socialize with your classmates were provided.”
Mr. Painter continued, “Your teachers invested more hours into teaching than ever before, but they did it because they care about you, and you are worth it!” This graduating class experienced a very unique year and remained flexible and patient. They took hold of that which was good and special and embraced it!
Mr. Michael Lanham, WCGS Board member and father of four graduates of the Grammar School (Luke ‘11, Lexi ‘13, Lauren ‘16, Lody ‘21) lifted the graduates up in prayer as he thanked the Lord for His faithfulness to them in these formative years and prayed that they would remain faithful to Him in the years ahead.
Ben Toly, Emma Gregersen, Analeigh Hoogerheide, Jack Roth, and Rachel Nelson shared testimonies, reflecting on the ways they have been shaped and looking forward to the ways God will use them.
There were beautiful vocal and instrumental ensembles performed by the students before welcoming Mr. Stephen Clum, Executive Director, to share the Commencement address. He brought the graduates attention to the several spiritual truths they have been taught during their education at WCGS.
For many who attended WCGS in their early primary years of education, they learned of God’s love for them, so great that He sent His son, Jesus, to die in their place. Many gave their hearts to the Lord during those young, formative years.
Mr. Clum continued to list a few of the spiritual truths interwoven into their curriculum, “In fifth grade, you studied the life of Christ and made even deeper connections about the price that He paid for you. As you transitioned into sixth grade, you learned the significance of Imago Dei through a literature lesson. You were made in the image of God and you have the potential to reflect certain aspects of Him. In literature class, you learned about the four pillars of reflection – responsible, relational, spiritual, and creative. These pillars were in perfect form before sin entered the world, but once it did, every pillar cracked, separating us from God. You also memorized Psalm 139 in its entirety, with motions no less, and learned that the great God of the universe is the God who created you, and every day of your life was ordained before one of them came to be. During the Relationship Unit in eighth grade, you learned about your identity in Christ because it is exactly that relationship - your relationship with God - that defines who you are and impacts ALL of life.” This is the eternal impact of a WCGS education.
Mr. Clum expressed to the graduates in Whom their identity lies, encouraging them with what God’s Word says about their identities once they have received the gift God graciously offers when we surrender our lives to Him.
He challenged the class of 2021 “to embrace who God has called you to be. Allow the cross of Christ to be the most dominant mark of your self-image. Because it is when we surrender our lives to Him and allow Him to dwell in our hearts that we can reflect His image to a world that so desperately needs to see the love of Christ.”
He then shared his life verse, Galatians 2:10, “For I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me. The life that I now live in the body, I live by the faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Students then received their diplomas, and 62% were honored by Head of School, Mr. Jeffrey Brooke, for receiving Honor Roll and High Honor Roll. To conclude the ceremony, Dr. Noah Toly, father of Joe Toly ‘18 and Ben Toly ‘21, provided the Benediction.
We are excited for this remarkable group of graduates as they move on to high school! The Lord is going to use them in powerful ways, just as He already has. Please be in prayer for the Class of 2021 as they make this transition. To God be the glory!