The Bethany Class of 2020 celebrated their commencement ceremony this May, albeit a bit differently than ever before.
The celebration took place virtually, with students watching the ceremony at home with their families. The video of the ceremony included musical selections from the concert choir, the orchestra and a song sung by an ensemble of seniors.
Students and families then gathered at Bethany for a drive-thru diploma pickup, where faculty and staff lined the sidewalks and cheered for each graduate as they received their diploma.
During the ceremony, student speakers Naomi Torres and Christian Yoder shared with the class, as well. “We would like to say thank you to the community still gathering to support us seniors even through these difficult times,” said Naomi.
She emphasized the unity of the class, despite their high school careers coming to a close in an unexpected way in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. “We stick together at times like these and this strength represents the class of 2020. We are grateful we can celebrate all the seniors’ accomplishments and achievements.”
They also both spoke about how the community at Bethany helped them stay positive through the end of the year.
“I am confident that our collective memories won’t be damaged by this quarantine. When we reflect on our Bethany experience in 5, 10 or 50 years, these past few months will be so insignificant compared to the lessons we learned, the friendships we made, and the love we gave and received while attending Bethany. So on behalf of the entire graduating class of 2020, I want to sincerely thank the teachers, faculty, parents, family members and friends that gave us their time, their hard work, their energy and most importantly, their love,” said Christian. “We take it all with us, wherever we go.”
Mandy Yoder, pastor and Bethany parent, offered the commencement address. Her message was centered around how we adjust to the unexpected, how we “pivot” – whether it be our actions or our expectations.
She encouraged the graduates to look at the end of this year as an opportunity to pivot, and to carry that perspective with them the rest of their lives.
She also challenged graduates to anchor themselves in two significant ways: the ways and teachings of Jesus, and a strong community. “God never promised that life would be easy. But God promises to be with us no matter what we do and no matter where we go,” she said.
“My hope for you is that if you anchor yourselves in Jesus and plant your pivot foot in loving and supportive communities, when the unexpected, difficult things of life come your way, you will not only be able to pivot and find a way forward, but you will also be able to sense God’s love and leading and presence through it all.”