Hope Christian graduates ‘refined’ class of 2021

Published 2:45 pm Monday, May 24, 2021

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By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer

PELHAM – In its 31st year offering a faith-based homeschool program, Hope Christian School celebrated its 76 graduating seniors at their commencement ceremony on May 20.

According to Founder and Superintendent Wayne Atchison, the school has a tradition of letting the senior class pick a theme to represent their class. This year’s theme was “Refine,” based on Zechariah 13:9.

The class chose this theme to draw parallels between how high school can be a test for the future, and how God tests everyone to help refine them into the best version of themselves.

“When we think of refining, it is kind of a foreign concept in the modern day because it is already done for us,” Atchison said. “Most things we see have been refined, usually by heat. It is a process. When you understand that process to become mature, sound and whole in your thinking, you understand what it means to be content.”

Atchison went on to explain how refining ore brings dross, or impurities, to the surface and related it to the journey each of these students are undergoing.

“As ore melts in the crucible under the watchful eye of the refiners, a layer of impurities called dross eventually forms and comes to the surface,” Atchison said. “For us, the dross represents any misplaced dependency, any wrong motive, wrong attitude, wrong actions and anything that keeps us from being all that God wants us to be.”

As these students look on to the future that waits just after graduation, Salutatorian Marion Bell offered some advice to her fellow graduates on how to be successful. She explained that her parents created a theme for each year, and the one that she remembered the most was three words: Responsible, Accountable and Engaged.

“I aspire for these three words to describe me,” Bell explained. “One definition of the word responsible is capable of being trusted. Next, let’s aspire to be accountable. Being accountable goes a long way with peers, supervisors and anyone in life. Lastly, let’s be engaged. When you are engaged it infuses everything you do with purpose, energy and enthusiasm. Not only will your engagement inspire those around you, but it is also going to benefit you as well. It goes beyond just showing up in life, it’s about getting out of your comfort zone and changing the world around you.”

The commencement ceremony was a happy event, highlighting and featuring the excellence of each of the students. Hope Christian highlighted their four valedictorians Robert Gann, Justice Lichlyter, Robert Mcanna and Jacob Plott. The school had three salutatorians including Marion Bell, Grace Barrett and Brianna Buchina.

Wayne Atchison and his wife Connie Atchison stared Hope Christian 31 years ago after wanting to provide a faith-based education for their own children. 31 years later they have the distinction of educating more than 2,300 students and sending them on to be successful in their professional lives.

“We celebrate what God has done in your lives and in your students’ lives,” Wayne said. “We anticipate wonderful things ahead because we have such a mighty God.“

Photos available Shelbycountyphotos.com.