Briarwood celebrates Class of 2023 at graduation ceremony

Published 11:16 am Tuesday, May 16, 2023

By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer

NORTH SHELBY – Members of Briarwood Christian School’s Class of 2023 heard wise words from their class salutatorian and valedictorian as well as a former instructor during a recent graduation ceremony.

Briarwood Christian School held its graduation ceremony for its Class of 2023 on Sunday, May 14 at Briarwood Presbyterian Church.

The Class of 2023 earned total scholarships in the amount of $11,400,826 which is the highest amount of scholarship dollars earned by any class at Briarwood Christian School to date.

The ceremony was held at the church’s worship center and included remarks from Class of 2023 Salutatorian, Sam Olsen, Valedictorian Hayden Fixler and Commencement Speaker Will Worthington.

During his speech, Olsen reflected on his role as the class’s salutatorian.

“My role as salutatorian is not to say farewell,” he said. “My role is to reflect upon this year and our experiences as a group. My job is not to say goodbye. Instead, in 10 or 20 years out of high school, I want you to be able to look back on these years and realize how blessed we have been.”

Olsen expressed his pride for being able to be a part of Briarwood Christian School.

“I am proud to be a Briarwood Lion and a member of the Class of 2023, Go Lions,” he said.

During her speech, Fixler expressed her excitement and gratitude for being able to be the class’s valedictorian.

“I’m very excited to stand before you as valedictorian today, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to speak today,” Fixler said.

Fixler said that, in some ways, this is not the end but a beginning.

“We’re all starting a new chapter of our lives,” she said. “We’re all moving away from home, we’re going to have to make new friends and we get to start a brand-new phase. We’ll get to break out of the Briarwood bubble, and we’ll get to learn so much more about ourselves and what we’re capable of.”

Fixler  spoke on the ways in which this occasion is also an ending.

“This is the end, at least in a couple of hours, and we’ll no longer be students at Briarwood,” Fixler said. “A lot of us will no longer live in Alabama, and a majority of us won’t be living in Birmingham anymore. As I was reflecting on the changes that are going to come in the near future, I realized that this being the end isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, some endings are good, and they’re natural and they have to happen for us to move on.”

This year, Briarwood welcomed back Will Worthington to the campus to serve as the commencement speaker. Worthington previously served as a 9th grade Bible teacher and soccer coach at Briarwood Christian School.

“It’s been a long time,” Worthington said. “I’m honored, and the only thing that I can say to that is, ‘Thank you.’ Today, I just want to say ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’ Class of 2023, you guys did it somehow, someway. I don’t know how but you did it. I’m so proud of you guys.”

This graduation ceremony served as reunion for Worthington who had the opportunity to teach many of the graduating class back when they were freshmen.

“I think back through my time with you guys,” he said. “ It’s just incredible just how much growth has happened.”

Worthington said he did not want the students to forget this moment.

“Do not let today pass you guys by and not take the opportunity to thank the people that have played such an important role in investing in you and depositing in you to help you get where you are today,” he said. “Do not let the sun go down today without taking the opportunity to go and thank those people.”

During his speech, Worthington gave an account of his own personal experiences and failures and asked the graduating class to embrace their failures and to learn from them.

“I want to leave you with one last lesson,” he said. “Do not get caught up in your final destination of life, but rather focus on your next step and I plead with you, walk in mind according to God’s word, walk with the Father in all that you do.”

Before he closed his speech with a prayer, Worthington left the Class of 2023 with one last message.

“I want to thank you for this opportunity to teach you one last time,” he said. “Most importantly, as you walk out today do not forget the most important lesson of them all: God loves you, you are loved.”