“Listen to what you are called to do and find your part in the story,” said commencement speaker Lora Rusel to the class of 2018 at Bethany’s 64th commencement on May 27.

Speaking from Joshua 4—a touchstone scripture passage for the class of 2018 for most of their high school years—Rusel noted that like the Israelites not all are called to carry the same stones: some of you carry compassion and kindness, some joy and exuberance that infects those around you, some of you carry grief, hurt and pain. But, she said, “you get to claim each others’ gifts and share in carrying them for and with each other.”

Senior speakers Klaus Bottorff and Abby Rudy-Froese talked about pain they all felt following the death of classmate Conner Sargent in August 2016, but also how that experience helped them grow closer as a class, relying on each other for emotional and spiritual support.

While they found unity in supporting each other surrounding Conner’s death, Klaus noted their class is also diverse—and opinionated—with differing religious and political beliefs. “Though we’ve had our fair share of arguments, at the end of the day we’re still friends and we recognize and respect that we’re all different,” says Klaus.

Abby concludes, “Our shared experiences have made it possible for us to connect with each other in different ways. Whether through the trials of grief, through political discussions, or even just through a regular day at school: we are one.”

Earning valedictorian honors was Jonathon Yousey of Goshen and earning salutatorian honors was Joel Yoder of Elkhart.

Most of the 45 seniors will head to college: 23 to Mennonite colleges (14 staying here in Goshen) and 15 to other Christian colleges or public universities. One plans to serve with Youth With a Mission and 6 are undecided or planning to work.

The class gift was a donation towards purchasing radios for use at fish fry, which were already put to use this past spring. As a parting gift from Bethany, each senior received a ceramic bowl made by art teacher Eric Kaufmann. And as a parting gift—while receiving their diplomas—each senior handed head of school Tim Lehman a stone.