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Kaylie Clem | The Feather Online

The 37th annual senior graduation takes place, May 24. There were 44 students from the class of 2018 that graduated.

Crowds form in the Peoples Church auditorium for the 37th annual FCS graduation, May 24. A feeling of joy grips the audience and seniors as the Fresno Christian Schools campus community remembers some of their fondest school memories and celebrates the 44 graduates of the class of 2018.

As the FC band plays the graduation anthem, ‘Pomp and Circumstance,’ the group of 39 proceeded down the main aisle of the auditorium. After a speech from salutatorian and student body president Roman Endicott, ‘18, eight students of the highest honor are recognized and awarded.

Following Endicott’s words, many special recognitions were made. Brooke Stobbe, International Student Coordinator, sprung up to announce the first ever Ameri-Student ‘Outstanding International Student Scholarship’ which was granted to Tram Ngo, ‘18. Alongside 15 other CSF honors students Juliana Lozano was recognized as the ‘CSF Scholarship’ recipient awarded by Andrea Donaghe, CSF advisor. Finally, Robert Foshee awarded the ‘Faculty/Staff Scholarship’ to Erin Wilson, ‘18.  

Halfway through the night, numerous students quickly mount the stage steps. Under the direction of choral director Susan Ainley, the campus choir, Cantiamo, and women’s ensemble, Bellezza, join together to fill the room with their voices as they sing ‘The Music of Living.’

After spending a weekend with the class of 2018 during the senior retreat in September of 2017, John Cox, the lead pastor at Riverpark Bible Church, formed many relationships with the students and had one final message to share with the class. Cox addresses them saying that with an identity in Christ and integrity, you will notice the glory of God.

Don’t live based on how you are described but how you are defined. If you are a child of Christ, that is how you are defined. Nothing in this world can add to who you are if you have Jesus.” — Riverpark Bible Church pastor John Cox

Once the commencement address was complete, Bellezza sang, ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ before the final introduction of the class.

The words of Robert Hyatt, “ladies and gentleman, the class of 2018” booms through the building as the graduates walk across the stage to receive their diplomas.

Once the final document is handed out, the choir returned for one final song. With solos highlighting the seniors, the lively gospel song, “I Sing Because I’m Happy,” ended the night with the sounds of worship and clapping.

And as campus tradition continues, graduates left the stage, walking down the aisle through a line of teachers past and present. Well wishes, hugs, congratulations, smiles and tears provided a send-off before the seniors reunited with family, friends and well-wishers before a reception in the PC gym.

A graduation like no other 
Clark Zhu, Alumnus, ’17
May 26, 2018

“I think FCS graduation tends to be unique because of the nature of our school,” Zhu said. “It’s a small community and everyone knows one another. It has a much more intimacy in the interaction of students and faculty staff because they truly have spent time with each other in the past years. It’s also touching to see the lifers graduating because they have spent most of their lives up to this point in this community, especially for those who are going away to college. It’s always hard to say goodbye.”

Powerful circle of prayer ceremony
Charlie DeGroot, FCS ‘Lifer’, parent, alumnus, ’97
May 26, 2018

“I’ve been to many graduation ceremonies at Fresno Christian schools over the past few decades. The single most unique thing about the ceremony is the circle of prayer. It has always been an amazing thing to witness parents of the graduates gather around them and pray for them. This year was different, my wife and I got to experience it as parents.What a blessing to be able to gather  with other parents and pray for, and commission our children into the next chapter of their fife and service for Jesus Christ. That’s what makes Fresno Christian unique.”

Thank you to speaker John Cox
Roman Endicott, Graduate, ‘18
May 26, 2018

“Graduation was a really positive experience for me and I think it was a major success. I enjoyed our speaker John Cox and I think he has a lot of very wise advice for us as we go into the world. It was also good to hear from him again because he spoke at our senior retreat and we already had that connection with him. Overall I thought there was no better way for us to be sent off into our next chapter of life.”

Kaylie Clem | The Feather Online

Cate Vander Kooi, ’18, accepts a valedictorian plaque from Evangelina Tello, academic counselor.

Recognized for  academic achievement
Cate Vander Kooi, Graduate, ‘18
May 25, 2018

“I honestly still can’t believe I graduated; it was such a wonderful ceremony and high school seems to have flown by so fast,” Vander Kooi said. “I had the honor of being this class’ valedictorian, and it was really rewarding to be recognized for my academic achievement. I definitely did not think that I would survive four years of high school, and to come out on top was a wonderful surprise. Walking down the aisle was truly a once in a lifetime experience, especially with all my friends and family cheering me on. I am so happy to officially be a Fresno Christian alumni.”

A feeling of God’s presence
Hannah Nale, FC alumna, ‘17
May 25, 2018

“My first FCS graduation as an alumna was quite a unique experience,” Nale said. “Returning to see my past teachers and peers brought such joy and remembrance of my blessed high school days. After having been surrounded by different views my first year of college it was special to return to the strong loving Christin community of Fresno Christian. FCS graduation is like no other, you truly feel God’s presence not only in the ceremony but, within the students and faculty.”

A continued tradition
Megan LeBlanc, Student, ‘20
May 24, 2018

“Graduation was a great night of celebrating the seniors but I was sad to see them leave,” LeBlanc said. “I was there to support all of the seniors, but mostly my teammates especially Celeste Counts, McKensy Neal, Maicy Luginbill and Lauryn Tucker. Through classes and sports, this class has been very kind to everyone and they are going to be missed. My favorite memories are with all the seniors I played sports with.

“The best parts about graduation was watching them hand out all of the awards and certificates,” LeBlanc continued. “I really appreciated how they continued the line up of teachers tradition. When all the teachers from K-12 shake everyone’s hand at the end of graduation to say goodbye to them one last time. This year’s graduating class is very special to me.”

Starting a new chapter
Andrew Moore, Student, ‘21
May 24, 2018

“I chose to go to graduation this year to support good friends and to wish them a good future,” Moore said. “I enjoyed seeing all of the awards given to the seniors. Even though I came into the school year later, I feel somewhat connected to my senior friends. Seeing them go will be tough but I am excited for this new chapter of their lives.”

Kaylie Clem | The Feather Online

The women’s ensemble, Bellezza, sings ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ leading into the final introduction of the class of 2018.

Sing with classmates one more time
Lindsay Weimer, Student, ‘20
May 24, 2018

“Graduation was super awesome this year,” Weimer said. “I really enjoyed Pastor Cox’s challenge to the senior class. I decided to go this year to support all of my fellow ensemble members and I was very thankful to be able to sing with them on stage one last time.”

Celebrate seniors
Wesley Hinton, Student, ‘20
May 24, 2018

“Graduation is really cool because we get to see how far the seniors have come however it’s sad to see them go,” Hinton said. “It was also neat because we get to see where they are going to college and how they’re going to spend the rest of their lives.”

Support siblings and friends
Paige Provost, Student, ‘21
May 24, 2018

“I went to graduation mainly to see my brother (Jacob Provost) and support him in the next part of his life,” Provost said. “I also wanted to support my all the ladies graduating from the cheer team. It was a fun experience to watch the graduation with family who came from out of town. After graduation, I look forward to attending some of the parties.”

Christian perspective
Josiah Weimer, FC alumnus, ‘16
May 24, 2018

“I came here to support my friends Josh Oakley and Matthew Sue,” Weimer said. I enjoy seeing people graduate and also the music was very good. I like supporting my friends and I like the Christian perspective this kind of graduation provides.”

Well put together
Brandon Brogan, Student, ‘19
May 24, 2018

“This year went by so fast and it’s so crazy that I’m going to be senior next year,” Brogan said. “This year’s ceremony and festivities afterward were well put together. I’m going to miss a lot of the seniors that graduated, but I’m not sure how I feel about only having one year left of high school.”

Congratulate friends
Hannah Villines, Student, ‘21
May 24, 2018

“I went to graduation to see my brother (Tyler Villines) graduate,” Villines said. “It has been fun to see him grow up through all of high school and seeing him finally graduate was really cool. Also seeing the other seniors that I have become friends with graduate was really special and I’m so happy for all of them.”

 

Experience new opportunities
Marissa Parker, FC alumna, ‘17
May 24, 2018

“I was very excited to see my previous classmates graduate,” Parker said. “I remember when I graduated getting to stand up as a lifer so it was cool to witness those who stood this year. I love coming together and getting the opportunity to see everyone again. Leaving last year was really sad but I’ve had so many new opportunities beyond high school and I’m excited for the graduating seniors to experience new opportunities as well.”

Loss of a teammate
Lorenzo Fierro, Student, ’21
May 24, 2018

“I was here to support my friend soccer teammate Nathan Mount,” Fierro said. “My favorite part of the graduation was when the teachers gave their individual speeches and awards. I’m going to miss this year and playing soccer with Nate and all of the jokes we had together.”

Celebrate the future
Ashley Logan, Student, ‘22
May 24, 2018

“My favorite part was seeing the graduates walk down and shake hands with their previous teachers,” Logan said. “I came because my sister in the Sister to Sister program McKensy Neal was graduating and a lot of the people graduating were my friends. It was a wonderful night.”

A unique opportunity
Nick LeBlanc, FC alumnus, ‘17
May 24, 2018

“The thing that makes Fresno Christian’s graduation ceremony unique is that they take the time to honor/acknowledge each student’s success,” LeBlanc said, “whether it’s in the classroom, through athletics or extracurricular activities. Since the class sizes are so small, pretty much every student gets something unique said about them. I felt that I learned a lot about students, especially the ones that I didn’t know that well during my time at FC.”

Kaylie Clem | The Feather Online

Ending the night in one final song, the mixed Cantiamo and Bellezza sing and clap along to, ‘I Sing Because I’m Happy.’

An emotional time
Sam Portale, Student, ’21
May 24, 2018

“My favorite part of the night was when the graduates recessed back down because they got to see all their teachers and it is just a really emotional time,” Portale said. “I came because I wanted to see the seniors I knew graduate and I had to sing for in the choir. I think this graduation is special because it’s a lot different than normal graduations; they just walk the stage at other schools, but ours has a spiritual aspect which makes it unique.”

Graduation is a celebration
Chris Schultz, FCS Chairman of the Board, FC alumnus, ‘91
May 24, 2018

“Graduation is a celebration,” Schultz said. “It is a celebration of community, celebration of faith and a celebration of achievement. Hearing the stories of accomplishments, listening to the gifting‘s of graduates, and centering it all on Christ is what makes Fresno Christian graduation unlike any other.”

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Angela Monroy, Parent attendee
May 24, 2018

“The graduation was spot on about Jesus and how that’s what FCS is about, Jesus Jesus Jesus,” Monroy said. “Our graduation is different because we have prayer, we sing about Jesus, talk about Jesus and we get to lift his name up. I came because my daughter sang in the choir and I have also been coming every year since my daughter was in 1st grade. I have been coming every year to support and congratulate all the graduates. Each graduation has a different message but they always tie back to God.”

Following graduation, the class of 2018 embarked on the annual grad night. This year graduates took part in bowling, a dodgeball tournament, ‘Solo,’ the new Star Wars movie and other festivities.

Slideshow below includes images from the 37th annual senior graduation, May 24.

[rev_slider alias=”graduation2018″]

Leave a comment: What was one of your favorite memories with the class of 2018?

For more articles check out Val Rivera retires after 10 faithful years and Brenda Warkentin retires after 34 years of campus service. Readers may also be interested in some senior columns. Check out Senior Reflection: Cate Vander Kooi and Senior Reflection: Cayla Rivas.

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