One tuxedoed young man and nine gowned ladies graduated on the Houston Christian School stage June 28.
Walking up the school’s front steps was like walking into an old Western bar, with weather-worn walls and swinging saloon doors.
A row of “Wanted” posters hung inside, each showing a graduate’s face with “charges” printed below. Under Cassandra Barden’s was the line: “Fer completin’ high school and abusin’ the iPod.”
During the ceremony, graduates sat on hay bales under a canopy of lights and a Grad 2012 sign with hand-painted names.
Several academic awards went to Ruth Hamblin, who also got a mention for her full-ride basketball scholarship at Oregon State University. Allison Sienen also won an award for athletic ability.
Both Lauren Vandenberg and Kimberly Keegstra earned several academic awards as well, and Laura Leffers won the award for art and music.
An honourable mention went to Juanita Dieleman for her “servant heart” and all the volunteering she did with elementary students.
Teacher Ed Kronemeyer presented Justine Vander Mooren with a unique award for thriftiness. Kronemeyer had promised the girls $20 if any could get a graduation dress for under $100.
Kronemeyer joked that her recently received engagement ring must have cost more than $100, but “she wouldn’t go for it.”
A theme throughout the night was the love shown by the 2012 grads. Dillon TenBrinke, a Grade 2 student with a communication disability, was presented with an iPad, a gift from the class.
Dawn Bishop, Dillon’s assistant teacher, tearfully thanked them, saying it had already made a huge differences.
“Dillon has always struggled to express himself,” she said, “and this has given him a voice.”
Tyler Delege, the only male in the grad class, was the brunt of many jokes.
The crowd roared when they saw a video of a PE dance class where Tyler Delege was unknowingly abandoned on the dance floor.
They had worn art masks for the dance, and Delege couldn’t see that his class had stopped dancing.
He danced alone for almost a full minute before he realized what had happened.
The class verse was Joshua 1:9, which says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
In her speech, parent Nelinda Vandenberg showed why parents so value the school.
“It takes a community to raise a child,” she said to the grads, “and we wanted to raise you in the way of the Lord.”
“We have all failed in many ways,” she said, “so we put our hope in God.”
Vandenberg closed by encouraging the graduating students to follow the way of the Lord.
Then, she said, “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”