One last assignment

Published 7:52 pm Saturday, June 8, 2013

The class of 2013 at Suffolk Christian Academy is all smiles after their graduation ceremony. From left are Clinton Byrd, Nathan VanDorn, Matthew Snead, Michaela Jones, Janna Williams, Wayne Conner and Hudson Boudet.

The class of 2013 at Suffolk Christian Academy is all smiles after their graduation ceremony. From left are Clinton Byrd, Nathan VanDorn, Matthew Snead, Michaela Jones, Janna Williams, Wayne Conner and Hudson Boudet.

The class of 2013 at Suffolk Christian Academy got one final piece of homework before they left high school for the last time.

The fourth graduating class of the school formerly known as First Baptist Christian School was assigned the Great Commission: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19a)

“You’re not getting out of school today without another assignment,” guest speaker Eric Thompson told the seven graduates in a ceremony at Southside Baptist Church.

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“You will encounter a culture that does not hold onto the same values and does not believe in absolute truth,” Thompson said. “The world is watching. What will they say?”

The graduates will have thousands of opportunities to share the gospel, he noted.

Hudson Boudet, Wayne Conner and Michaela Jones will attend Old Dominion University in the fall, joining one of the largest and most diverse college student bodies in the state.

“The majority are desperately seeking the truth,” Thompson said.

Janna Williams will attend the University of Mary Washington, where she too will have many opportunities to share the gospel.

Matthew Snead and Nathan VanDorn will attend Tidewater Community College, where they can have an impact on the more than 47,000 actively enrolled students, Thompson said.

And Clinton Byrd plans to enter naval trade school.

“It is an honored thing to find a trade,” Thompson said, adding that the workplace is one of the richest breeding grounds for witnessing opportunities.

But, he added after giving the assignment, “The hard part about this assignment is you won’t get your grade until your final graduation.”

The seven graduates — three of whom completed their entire K-12 education together at the school — showed off how close they have become in a photo slide show, in their rapport with one another during the intimate ceremony and even with an on-stage group hug with principal Tamra VanDorn, Nathan’s mother.

Jones, the salutatorian, shared inside jokes with her classmates during her speech and thanked her own and her classmates’ parents for making their graduation day possible.

“Thank you … not only for waking us up every morning to come to school, no matter how moody we were, but also giving your time and wallets to give us the best education possible,” she said.

Jones is the younger sister of the school’s 2011 valedictorian, Katelin Jones.

“Find your passion, pursue it and never give up,” she advised her classmates. “Life is shorter than we think, and we unfortunately don’t get do-overs.”

Valedictorian Wayne Conner noted the fact that a Christian school is different from other schools.

“This school is more focused on character and attitude toward the world rather than pleasing the world with answers,” he said. Students at the school “are taught to defend their faith,” he added.

Finally, he said, “Do not wonder what could have been. Claim victory for yourself today, trust the Lord, and … fear not what lies ahead.”

See more photos from the ceremony on the Suffolk News-Herald’s Facebook page.