Cornerstone Christian School holds personalized 2024 commencement ceremony

Published 2:08 pm Tuesday, May 28, 2024

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – Members of Bethel Baptist Church and the Cornerstone Christian School met together on the night of Friday, May 24 for an emotional and personalized commencement ceremony that celebrated the school’s graduating class of 2024.

With Cornerstone’s graduating class only consisting of 10 students in total, CCS’ ceremony constituted a much more personal and detailed celebration of student successes and relationships.

To begin the ceremony, graduates Kiersten Linville and Chloe Shoemaker presented an in-depth history of each graduate’s relationship with the school and their fellow students—retelling stories of how they came to the school and important milestones along the way.

Sydney Perkins, who served as the school’s salutatorian, delivered her address that focused on thanking the educators at CCS and her fellow graduates for the class’s close relationships.

“If you haven’t heard, our class is one of the closest in the school,” Perkins said. “Mostly because of our size, but also because of what we have overcome together. We may not know what our future holds, but I know it starts after today. Eight of us are going to college, half of us will be over 50 miles away and none of us are going to the same college or studying the same thing. I know it will be hard for us all, but I also know that going our separate ways will only give us room to grow and improve ourselves.”

Perkins then joined Valedictorian Katherine Houston and fellow graduate Bethany Lee to recite the song “Gratitude.”

“We chose the song because it represents our senior year as a whole,” Perkins said. “We are so grateful for everyone here and for all of the opportunities that God has blessed us with throughout the year.”

Following the recitation, Pastor Wesley Criswell presented all 10 graduates with personalized bibles on behalf of the Bethel-Cornerstone congregation. Criswell then led the audience in a moment of prayer prior to Houston presenting her valedictorian address focused on the roads ahead for each graduate.

“In the past few years we have gained a lot of knowledge and experience, not just from academic resources but from each other,” Houston said. “We have all grown as individuals and as a community and we have so many shared memories that will stay with us for life. As we step into the future, let’s carry with us the lessons we have learned, the friendships we’ve forged and the knowledge that the world is eagerly awaiting our input. It is ready to embrace our unique skills and passions—offering us a multitude of opportunities to make a difference.”

In her closing comments, Houston also expressed a strong gratitude to the teachers and educators that have supported each of them along their educational journey.

“As we prepare to embark on our individual paths, let us not forget the common thread that binds us all together—the desire to make a positive impact on the world,” Houston said. “Let us approach our chosen paths with a passion, integrity and a sense of purpose knowing that we are not alone in our quest to make a difference.”

Cornerstone coach and teacher Sam Adams delivered the ceremony’s commencement address, during which he took the opportunity to read a letter to the graduates he had written to them four years prior. The letter, which was written as part of the student’s “a letter to your future self” exercise, was a surprise to each graduate that drew emotion from all—and tears from some.

“Dear seniors, I am in awe of you,” Adams’ letter read. “All of you possess so much world-changing ability in so many different ways.”

Adams’ letter then addressed each student—pointing out their innate qualities and personal growth.

“Walk in your purpose, live out His plans and be who He has called you to be—and the class of 2024 will change the world,” Adams said.

Prior to their receipt of diplomas and turning of their tassels, the graduates formally thanked their parents for their help and work in getting them to this point in their lives. As part of that parent salute, each graduate took a rose and delivered it to their parents.

Cornerstone Christian School’s graduating class of 2024 included:

  •  Noah Scott Gassner
  •  Katherine Nicole Houston
  •  Bethany Rose Lee
  •  Kiersten Maria Linville
  •  Abigail Mahala Merrifield
  •  Holden Blake Morris
  •  Damian Palacios
  •  Sydney Jade Perkins
  •  Chloe Madison Shoemaker
  •  Jackson Andrew Waugh