Emotions fly high at 35th Commencement Ceremony
Forty-nine students donned caps and gowns and received their diplomas at the Westminster Schools of Augusta 35th Commencement Ceremony on a rainy morning on Friday, May 25. Blue caps flew in the air, tears rolled down cheeks, and laughs were shared as seniors graduated at Warren Baptist Church.
Commencement speaker, Dr. Bill Pearson, urged seniors to be unstoppable in Jesus’ name and encouraged them to ask the question, “How will the world be changed because you are in it?”
Kylie Duckworth, class of 2018 salutatorian applauded her classmates about their abundance of character and passion and great amount of diversity in talent and ability. She also encouraged them to look to the future and the “firsts” to come instead of looking at all of the “lasts” such as last advisory, last football game were they don’t have to pay to get in, last time parking in student spots, or the last time we, as in Class of 2018, will be a “we.”
“Sometimes it can feel like today is the last day that we’ll be, well, a
‘we’. But that is not the case. This will always be the Class of 2018. No amount of geographical distance will change the bond that is formed by walking across this stage together, armed with a cap and a gown and a passion for achieving greatness. This is not the end. As the great poet Catullus so masterfully put it, “Now the anxious mind is wild to travel,/ Now the happy feet come alive with zeal,/ O dear band of comrades, fare you well,/ who set off together from our far-off home,/ But different roads lead back in different directions.” This is not the end, in fact, this is where it begins. Your road starts now. You only need to take a step.”
Caroline Vickery, Class of 2018 valedictorian, inspired her fellow seniors with her speech about gratitude and to continue to be “the good class.”
“Let us continue to live like “the good class”…let us continually hold dear our Biblical principles and core values that we have grown to embrace…Let us continue to carry ourselves with a higher cadence rather than give way to the worldly influences that surround us. Let your new classmates notice something special about you, and let us strive to be unashamed to live and glorify God in such a manner.
Galatians 5:13-14 says, ‘You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Graduates, we are about to receive freedom; we will be on our own, at liberty to decide how we want to live. I urge you to follow Paul’s command here: do not abuse your newfound freedom to conduct yourself in a degrading manner, but rather, follow Jesus and abide by the standards that have been instilled in us by our parents, teachers, and friends. Serve, love, and value others. Seek to honor and love God. Strive to stand out even if you are standing alone. Be “the good class.”
The Distinguished Alumni Award, presented each year during the ceremony, recognizes and honors alumi who have represented Westminster’s mission and core values in their work, in the lives, and in their communities. Keith Hearon ’05 was this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award winner. He shared a personal story about creativity, arrogance, humility, more creativity, and determination as he moved from college to graduate school to founding a company. He repeatedly found that his 13 years at Westminster shaped effectively every area of his life, personal, professional, and spiritual. He is now the co-owner of a multi-million dollar company, Poly6, with a new product he invented called Halcyon, a name inspired by his time as a student of Randall Nichols.
“Westminster taught me to compete, to communicate, to fight, to compromise, to win, to lose, and most importantly, to learn….I crafted my Ph.D. dissertation [at MIT] dedication as follows:
- To my parents, Mike and Sandra Hearon, who inspire me to dream
- To the faculty at Westminster Schools of Augusta, who taught me how to learn
- To refinement through failure and the pursuit of perfection
Wrapped into this dedication language are three principles that I live by:
(1) To think beyond what the world believes to be possible
(2) To diligently acquire new knowledge throughout one’s life
(3) To acknowledge human limitation in the face of the inevitable perfection that gave rise to our universe.
I firmly believe that we each have a chance to shape our futures, one decision at a time. I believe it is our duty and our mandated stewardship to will a better world into existence, to create what needs to be created and to reject the idea of an unacceptable tomorrow.”