OC Christian School graduates 3

Posted 13 June 2014 at 12:00 am

Photos by Sue Cook – The graduates switched their tassels over after receiving their diplomas. From left: Athan Brown, Joshua Parker and Justin Boardway.

‘It’s smaller classes, so it’s a more personal experience. You get to know the teacher better and the teacher gets to know you.’ – OCCC graduate Athan Brown

By Sue Cook, staff reporter

MEDINA – Three seniors at the Orleans County Christian School graduated Thursday night. Joshua Parker, Athan Brown and Justin Boardway walked the stage with heads held high as they received their diplomas.

School Administrator Linda Strickland led the graduation ceremony. After knowing the young men so well, she admitted it was difficult and amazing to watch them go.

“It’s bittersweet because you’re excited that they’re moving on to the next step, and yet, we have just little quirks and little things and you miss it terribly,” said Strickland. “I guarantee they will be back next year to visit. It really is a family atmosphere.”

Nearly all 19 families with students enrolled attended the commencement. The school had 25 students this year, taught by a small group of teachers that provide an education with a Christian foundation. This is the school’s 18th year.

“It’s smaller classes, so it’s a more personal experience,” said Brown, one of the graduates. “You get to know the teacher better and the teacher gets to know you.”

Provided photo – Pastor Brandon Scholes took this selfie on stage with the graduates before delivering his keynote. A video at the beginning of the commencement showed students taking various selfies and snapshots of each other throughout the year.

During the keynote address, Pastor Brandon Scholes, who teaches Bible classes, told the audience that the Bible always leads to Jesus. He reminded everyone that the Bible’s teachings remind them to be humble and to do things in the name of God instead of for their own personal glory.

“Gentlemen, I hope in my prayers that you always come back to this great question, even when you think there’s greater questions that loom,” Scholes said. “Does my heart, does my life, does my motivation in this point to Christ? When you come back to this question, you realize it’s never too late. There’s nothing you can do or can’t do that would change His love for you.”

During the laying on of hands in prayer, Pastor Scholes told the young men that their gifts are from Heaven and that if they have struggles, temptation or fear, they can turn to the Lord for help because through Jesus all things are possible.

Athan Brown was this year’s valedictorian. He joined the school five years ago. He received a SkillsUSA tassel from BOCES for his study in Allied Health, which is a medically oriented program. Athan is planning to go to NCCC to become a Registered Nurse. Athan earned a $1,500 scholarship granted by the New York State Board of Regents for scholastic excellence.

“Athan will excel in anything he wants to do. He just masters everything,” said Strickland.

Athan Brown receives his diploma from Administrator Strickland.

Justin Boardway joined the school five years ago and also received a tassel for his SkillsUSA BOCES study of Computer Technology. Justin is planning to attend GCC for computer networking and repair.

Strickland said that she was not surprised that Boardway had chosen to go on to study computers, noting his success at BOCES being a clear guide for a future.

Joshua Parker joined the Christian school in 5th grade after struggling with being bullied in his previous school. He said the significantly smaller class sizes and tight community formed between the students made for a good atmosphere.

“People don’t shun you away here. They let you come into their lives,” he said.

Parker is planning to take online courses that are computer-oriented, though he is not sure exactly what major or degree he plans to work toward yet. Strickland feels that once Joshua seeks work, he will be able to find a job that will make him happy and continue his success throughout his life.

Teacher Carole Watson, who had the graduates at different times throughout their education, was very happy for them as well.

Watson said, “All three are awesome young men. We’re very proud of them and we’re going to miss them a lot.”

The graduates were given a standing ovation and some of their classmates shed tears at their leaving, but no one doubts that they are bound for greater things.