Tables or Desks?

“Are you ready?,” asked commencement speaker Dale Shenk to the class of 2019 at Bethany Christian High School’s 65th commencement on May 26.

Shenk, who teaches Bible at Bethany, noted how their sitting at round tables—rather than desks—in his class provided no “front” or clearly defined personal “territory.” Instead they were forced to engage with their table community and be ready to deal with the messiness of others and work together. As they leave Bethany, he charged them to continue to “Be ready. Take a seat at the table. Heal the world.”

Senior speakers Rachel Leininger and Alistair Tollar noted how this small tight-knit Bethany community has instilled in them a value for service and provided opportunities to grow in faith. Rachel said, “We believe service is an important way to show love and care for our community. Alistair added, “Hearing inspiring stories from classmates in chapel and discussing our own faith journeys in Bible encouraged our spiritual growth.”

They also remembered classmate KeShawn Smith, who died in February from injuries sustained in a car accident. They included a seat among them with his photo as a symbol of his presence—and presented his family with a vase signed be each of them.

Earning valedictorian honors was Rachel Leininger, daughter of Valerie and Stephen Leininger; earning salutatorian honors was Emma Bontrager, daughter of Cynthia and Gordon Bontrager.

Most of the 27 seniors will be head off to college: 7 to Mennonite colleges, 7 to other Christian college, and 9 to other colleges/universities. Two plan to serve, one with Mennonite Mission Network’s Service Adventure and one with Americorp. Two are undecided or planning to work.

The class gift was a donation towards purchasing tables for use at fish fry. Seniors recessed while singing “Go Now in Peace” and as a parting gift from Bethany each received a ceramic mug made by art teacher and class sponsor Eric Kaufmann.