Students Torrey Andrews, left, and Hunter Anderson hug during Sherwood Christian Academy’s 2012 commencement exercises Friday night at Sherwood Baptist Church.
ALBANY -- Family members and friends watched 33 seniors march across the stage Friday night as Sherwood Christian Academy celebrated its 2012 graduating class.
The Rev. Daniel Simmons, pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, urged the graduates to take advantage of future opportunities, but also to remember their Christian education first and foremost.
"There are other students all over this country who have been educated just like you, but you have an edge," Simmons told the graduates during his commencement address. "That edge is your Christian education. Your parents or grandparents sent you to Sherwood Academy because they knew that academics weren't enough. They knew you need The Christ that comes with a Christian education. And Christ will give you the edge as you move on with your lives."
Simmons said he knew it was going to be a special evening the moment he walked into the Sherwood Worship Center.
"When I walked through the door I saw the staff and teachers praying over and with the students," Simmons said. "I thought to myself, 'now that's not something you'll see at many high school graduations.'"
Class Salutatorian Andrew Bode recognized the classmates with whom he had grown up.
"It is an honor for me to be standing here before you. We've known each other since kindergarten and a lot of us have grown up together," Bode said. "Just remember that success doesn't always mean money, and success will not happen without God in our lives. When we get to college we will face opposition and pressure, but as long as we follow God, he'll always be with us and in control."
Class Valedictorian Whitney Thornton smiled broadly as she stood before her classmates.
"This speech is not for everybody," Thornton said. "This speech is for a certain group of people ... Class of 2012, this is for you. I'd like to thank my classmates for putting up with me through my Jonas Brothers phase, but our experience here has brought us all closer together as friends. This is not the end, it is just the beginning ...
"We will cherish these memories of our school forever. Congratulations to the Class of 2012 ... we did it."