Whitefield Academy Blog
Graduation 2019 Valedictorian Address Part 2
Good evening. Looking back on these past thirteen years, I am overwhelmed with emotions: laughter, gratitude, embarrassment, some sadness, wistfulness, frustration, confidence, joy, and love. But I am also able to realize how many people have helped bring my classmates and me to where we are today. My family is of course one of the greatest influences on my life, but their work might have been for nothing if it were not for my classmates, classical ideas, and teachers. Together, these people have heightened the merits of classical education, and in so doing, they have taught me numerous lessons. It seems to me that perhaps the most valuable things I have learned from them are how to constantly model Christ’s love, how to discuss, and how to actually think, and as I reflect on them today, I know that they are lessons that will not leave me for the rest of my life.
Every time I reflect on where we’ve been and where we are today as a class, I am overcome by respect for each and every one of you: we have thrived under pressure, endured mistakes, learned difficult ideas, and all the while growing closer together as a group. I have known many of you longer than I have known two of my siblings, and we often spend more waking hours together than with our families. Setting up teenagers to be surrounded by a select group of people all day every day could either go terribly or spectacularly, and I am so thankful that I have been given the latter.
My class has blessed me and taught me more about love than they could possibly know. We are all so different–coming from different backgrounds, going to different churches, living in different areas–, and were it not for Whitefield, I don’t know that we would have been acquaintances or even met. And yet these are the relationships I treasure the most. Community this close-knit is rare and takes a rather long time to build, and this is one of my chief sorrows with this chapter of our lives being over. However, I know that the lessons I have been taught by you will never fade. We have discussed and compared worldviews with ideas, people, and texts, we have challenged one another, and we have not hesitated to share confusion or differing ideas. My class has shared life experiences with me, sympathized with me, offered a helping hand, and has loved me despite my mistakes. My classmates have lovingly pushed me to think, and because of this, I feel confident in my belief in Christ. I cannot fully describe how much you have impacted me, and I am so much better off for knowing each and every one of you. We truly do love each other.
Additionally, I have never been more grateful for my classical education. My classmates and I now know how to learn for the rest of our lives and how to think through what we believe, not just how to memorize information or how to succumb to propaganda. Centuries of thought and the ideas of thousands have been examined within our time at Whitefield. We have challenged centuries-old philosophers, honored the scientists who have gone before us, watched the rise and fall in certain ideologies, and been ministered to by the saints. They have forced us to reconcile our beliefs with theirs or deny the ideas presented by the authors.
They have taught us in ways that only reading books from the past century never could, but much of it would be for nothing if we were not led by our teachers who constantly model Christ-like love and a willingness to learn. They have guided us through these texts while primarily caring about us and our beliefs, not our grades. One of the misconceptions of our culture is that parents can instill their set of beliefs within their child while sending them to a school that may not line up with the values in the home–indeed, the values of public schools often directly contradict those of a Christian family. However, Whitefield’s counter-cultural mission resolves this for any who walk through Whitefield’s doors. From the grading methods to passing periods, Christ-like love is exuded by both students and adults alike. Each student has been poured into immeasurably, and each teacher has taken the time to ensure that we know certain truths.
One truth that has come up most frequently in my years here has been the idea that without Christ, this life is meaningless. I could graduate from here, go on to college for the sole purpose of getting a job, make money so that I can retire, and die, but without Christ, this would not have been a live worthy of living. Alternatively, I can live for Christ and go wherever He calls me. I cannot think of any more fitting final words to remind myself and my classmates why our teachers have spent so much time caring for us and why our parents have even bothered to send us to Whitefield. If we choose to follow in Christ’s footsteps, then we will be living the truly fulfilled life that all of the philosophers and scientists and political theorists have been striving to obtain.
Fortunately for myself and my fellow graduates, we have been shown what a life like that looks like, and we are anxious to follow in the steps of those who have gone before us. Thank you, and welcome to graduation.