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Making school history

Published 10:12 pm Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It was the beginning of the end.

Gathered together in the sanctuary of Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church, students, parents, teachers and faculty met Tuesday morning to celebrate a milestone.

First Baptist Christian School’s first senior class was beginning its final year of high school.

The private school was established in 1988, when First Baptist Church expanded its day school ministry into an elementary program for first through third grades. Over the years, the school has added additional grade levels, leading up to the addition of a 12th-grade curriculum last year.

In honor of the journey the students and the school had taken to get to this point, the school’s administration threw a celebration for the class of 2010.

“I’m proud of each of you,” said Dr. Bryan Ray, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Suffolk. “This is school, but it’s more than that – it’s a training ground.”

During the celebration, the middle and high school students worshiped together, heard from Ray and other school faculty members and watched as the seniors were introduced to the crowd.

“Of course everybody is kind of excited,” said Aaron Cockrell, one of the 11 seniors in the class. “Everybody is looking forward to this being the first graduating class – that’s important to the school and to us.”

Fellow senior Rebecca Ballance said there is a tremendous responsibility that comes with being in the school’s first graduating class.

“It’s kind of crazy,” Ballance said. “I can’t believe it’s finally here. It’s a pretty big responsibility for us, I think, to make sure we’re setting a good example for the students under us.”

Throughout Tuesday’s program, speakers reinforced the need for students to learn the importance of such responsibilities, as well as selflessness and humility.

“We need you in the world,” Ray told the students. “But, from what I see today, we need you just as much in the church. I’m proud of you, but while we’re in the midst of a special position, we don’t dare exalt ourselves; it is all the work of Jesus Christ.”

Following the program, the school held a reception in the church’s lobby for the students and their families.

Headmaster Andrew Rumbaugh said the celebration is important not just for the students, but for the Suffolk community, as well.

“It’s important to be able to celebrate our first graduating class,” Rumbaugh said. “And it’s also important for us to show we are here and we’re sticking around. We’re not just going to be here for 10 years, and then leave. We are here to stay.”