Salutatorian Address – Class of 2012

Andrea Joy Petersen

Commencement 2012 — Salutatory Address

Wow. Friends, this night is finally here! I’ve been picturing this day as a far-off imagination, not as a closely-approaching reality. I know that you all have been anticipating this, too, and while it may be with some hesitance and disbelief that we sit here tonight, it is also with great excitement and joy that we move on to new adventures and places. Before we get too carried away with future plans, though, I want to take a few moments to reflect on what we’re taking away from our many years at Schaeffer. The school focuses on Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. I’d like to take a look at some of the ways we’ve grown in these permanent things over the years.

Truth. We have grown up learning the truth of God’s Word through Scripture memorization, Bible stories and skits we performed in grade school, dressing up and presenting the armor of God in 5th grade, and so much more. I don’t know about some of you, but I know that I can still remember Psalm 23 from memorizing it in Mrs. Hanson’s 1st grade class.

We have also learned the truth of community and close friendships. As a class, about 64% of us have been together since Kindergarten, and all of us have been here for High School. We have learned how important it is to stick with each other, even if it may not be the easiest thing to do. During those crazy middle school years filled with flying pens, Stephanie’s pranks, Vicky and Kiersten’s plan for world domination, and the book of Leviticus, we managed not to get into too much trouble while still having a LOT of fun. We’ve persevered through many a finals week by studying at Panera, encouraged each other during long days of tests, and even worked swiftly together with Alex’s organization to pull off buying and filling all of those cups for our senior prank, which turned out pretty well and definitely surprised everyone!

We have learned how to seek and pursue truth in every area of life, especially this year in Philosophy. Mr. Daugherty’s classes never failed to leave us thinking, whether it be writing about how we know we exist or learning about Plato’s forms while we played with play-do and cookie cutters. We were always reminded at Schaeffer that truth conforms to God and His character, which makes it objective. This is very important for us to remember as we enter the bigger world where many people may try to convince us otherwise.

Beauty. We see beauty everywhere at Schaeffer Academy! The amazing artwork created by our peers that adorns the walls which we walk everyday is a unique aspect of our school that not many others get to experience. Two of us, Taylor and Laura, even have artwork joining the permanent art gallery this year. Our building is beautifully clean and tidy, thanks to the Whateleys, other maintenance staff, and our student council activity to clean the school as a community yesterday. We have learned how to look at the world the way God does in Mr. Arant’s class when we “moved from God’s Word to God’s World.” We hear beauty, be it listening to little kids practicing for choir as we pass the music room, hearing Sarah rehearse her solo for the coffee concert, catching the strains of fifth graders reciting their latest poetry in the classroom down the hall, or playing in the band, jazz band, or strings together. We even taste beauty, from Mrs. Lee’s brownie bake-off competition to trying each other’s pizza day desserts (especially your cheesecake, Abbey).

We have learned that beauty is not just what we personally think is good or nice, but what is lovely and admirable in God’s sight, which is of infinitely higher value. We have learned that, as much as most of us love to dress up and look pretty, God looks at our hearts and sees us as so much more beautiful than we may feel, fancy clothes or not, because He made us to be His.

Goodness. So many things about Schaeffer have been good for us! From difficult Lewis pre-calculus tests to Mr. Hunderfund’s discussions (and Tabitha’s entertaining comments in them!), we have been stretched outside of our comforts zones and challenged to grow. We have been taught that working hard and completing a difficult assignment can be a very rewarding experience. We have learned values such as integrity and honesty when Mr. Phillips asks us on tests if we completed the assigned reading. We have learned school spirit through great turn-outs to sports games and cheering our teams on, with the help of the cheerleaders and Lion mascot, of course. We have learned responsibility through the demerit system, as much as we may dislike it. It teaches us that everything has a consequence, for good or for bad, and that we will reap what we sow from our actions. We have learned from Mr. Harris and Mrs. Phillips the value of knowing our history, be it the history of our country, our school, or our identity in Christ. We have learned by wearing uniforms the value of looking within others for their identity, not for how they dress. As much as I know we will MISS them, our uniforms have played a small role in allowing us to focus on the wonderful and good things about each other without getting distracted by one another’s clothing. We have learned on sports teams the importance of unity. Winning may be fun and more exciting, but the community we have experienced through hard practices has been seen clearly in the teamwork displayed by Elizabeth, Heather, and the basketball team passing and shooting a basket or Kerryn, Sydney, and the rest of the soccer team’s dribbling to score a goal.

Schaeffer is such a blessing because as a K-12 school, we get to witness not only each other grow over the many years we’ve been together, but watch the younger students grow and mature, too. We have the honor of being role models for the elementary kids as they watch us in the halls, outside at PE or on the playground, and between classes. We have the privilege to influence their lives. I remember how much we loved our book buddies and gift buddies when we were younger, and I can only imagine how much the little kids love watching us around school.

These are only a few of hundreds of ways we have learned what Truth, Beauty, and Goodness mean. I am sure in the next few years we will appreciate even more the values our teachers have instilled in us and the huge gift our families have given us in this classical, Christian education. As we move our separate ways and pursue the things that God has made us to enjoy, let us not forget what God has blessed us with here at Schaeffer Academy. Through the good and the bad just remember: “Nothing is ever as good or as bad as it appears to be.”

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