First Baptist graduates first class

Published 10:36 pm Friday, May 28, 2010

There were tears. There were laughs. But most notably, there was honor to God at First Baptist Christian High School’s first graduation ceremony.

In every speech made at the graduation to a full auditorium at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, thanks and recognition were given to God, and the class of 2010 became the first nine graduates of the high school to carry the lessons they’ve learned — both spiritually and academically — into the world.

“I ask you to remember the teachings of Jesus and be heroes of our faith,” said headmaster Dr. Andrew Rumbaugh. “‘Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses…’ and in your car,” he said, adding to Deuteronomy 6:8.

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First Baptist Christian School was established in 1988 for first through third grades. It added additional grades in the ’90s and its first high school class in 2006.

“This is a dream come true for many of us here who saw this through the eyes of faith many years ago,” former headmaster Stacey Miller said. “Tonight, we are seated in an Olympic stadium as the torch arrives, and the athletes arrive in their splendor. You hear the master say ‘Let the games begin,’ and they have. They are now beginning. … They will bear the cross and bear it well, because they are crusaders.”

Throughout the ceremony, teachers and students recounted memories of time spent together as a close-knit family.

“Two years ago, these kids weren’t thinking about the future,” said the Rev. Joe Cockrell, who has taught the students for the past three years. “They were without a care in the world. Now, they’re about to embark on their future.”

Graduating as valedictorian of her class was Rebecca Ballance, who honored God and her grandmother and quoted Jeremiah 29:11 for her classmates to remember.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,’” Ballance said.

Salutatorian of his class was Todd Ashley, who reminded his classmates that to succeed in life, one must first succeed at God’s plan for their lives and that “when commitment and capability collide, anything is possible,” Ashley said.

Graduate Katelyn Howell attended the school all 13 years of her education and received a medallion as the first lifetime student to graduate from the school.

“I got to know my teachers so well,” Howell said. “They would pray with me. You don’t get that in a normal school. The most important thing I learned at the school was to go out into the world and be yourself and how you are in Christ.”

Speakers encouraged the students to carry the torch of their faith and use their knowledge to benefit Christ’s kingdom.

“No matter where you go, remember the godly principles you were taught in your life,” said Delegate Chris Jones, who delivered the commencement address. “Now, more than ever, our country and world need Christian men and women to carry the torch.”