Commencement 2016: Celebrating God’s Faithfulness
On May 26, 2016, fourteen graduating seniors stood on stage at Covenant Christian Academy’s Commencement Ceremony while the auditorium filled with the lyrics of the ancient hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”
At a time when most students are told again and again that the world is their oyster and that they can do anything, Covenant chose to celebrate the achievement of their graduating seniors by praising God for his faithfulness to the school and the families within it. Headmaster Dr. David Sonju recognized the faithfulness of God in giving them such a tight knit and supportive community.
“One of the great joys of this school is that you’ll leave this stage and enter into the alumni community,” said Sonju. “We pray for many more years of God’s faithfulness to this academy.”
Valedictorian Allison Good and Salutatorian Azra Dees both spoke about the community and faithfulness they experienced during their time at Covenant. “There is always a plan for us,” said Dees. “We only have to go. I pray that along the way, we never forget each other and the time we spent here together. I pray that we never forget that we are loved.”
Good echoed that sentiment in her speech. “What is truly beautiful about this school is…the experience of being part of a people that fill these halls, who ultimately create the identity of Covenant Christian Academy. As a member of the since-kindergarten club, after thirteen years, I can attest to what we’ve experienced growing up at Covenant, what we’ve experienced as fully integrated members of a community.”
In the fall, Allison Good will attend Ohio State University to study Biomedical Engineering. Azra Dees will attend Rutgers University to study Molecular Biology.
Mr. Gordon Zubrod, J.D., delivered the commencement speech. Zubrod worked as an Assistant United States Attorney for thirty-five years. He served in his last assignment as Senior Litigation Counsel for the Department of Justice, a career which has taken him to Romania, Malaysia, Uzbekistan, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. He worked against organized crime, political corruption, and human trafficking. Zubrod has close ties with Covenant Christian Academy. His son-in-law Chris Perrin is the founder of the school and three of his grandchildren graduated from Covenant. Next year Zubrod will be teaching a Mock Trial Elective at Covenant.
Zubrod’s speech also reflected on the faithfulness of God in the lives of these graduating students. “Way to go,” Zubrod congratulated the seniors. “God’s been faithful, and so have you, and tonight is the harvest you reap. Well done.”
Zubrod drew from extensive experience in his own life to encourage the graduates to carry well the tools they have been given. He spoke about pursuing truth and justice in a world that is so often filled with the lack of it. “I’ve seen witnesses willing to die for the truth … and defendants who would kill them without a conscience. I have seen, and prosecuted, policemen, judges, and high ranking, elected, public officials who sold themselves to the highest bidder. The core of my labors has involved the assessment of character.” Zubrod said the assessment of character has been his life’s journey—and will be for the graduates as well. Zubrod argued that Christians can look at the world in a different way, knowing the ending has already been written. The graduates, he said, must choose to live and work as a labor of love.
For them to achieve success in life, Zubrod charged them to play more, develop a love for truth, pay attention to detail, do hard things, and build their lives around the legacy they’ll leave behind. “You are the heirs of a classical tradition, learned through a rich theological culture,” he said. “This journey is really just beginning.”
The fourteen graduating seniors were then presented their diplomas by Dr. David Sonju, Headmaster; Mrs. Kristen Miller, Upper School Dean; Mr. Greg Lowe, President, Board of Directors; and Mrs. Emily Dixon, Guidance Coordinator. Current Covenant students lined each side of the auditorium, cheering on their older classmates. Each student of the graduating cohort was then prayed over by Dr. Matthew Hunter, Upper School Humanities Teacher.
Perhaps the best example of God’s faithfulness to these students was seen in what wasn’t said: the smiles, the proud parents snapping pictures, the high fives, the excitement on each graduate’s face. All fourteen graduates have been shepherded and encouraged by caring parents, teachers, and staff members. Though they are pursuing a wide variety of careers—design, social work, military service, and nursing, among others—they each leave Covenant as confident, optimistic young men and women who, because of the care, guidance, and education they have received, may truly change the world.
Commencement 2016 Scenes
About the Author
Rachael Dymski is a freelance writer and blogger living in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared in places like Relevant Magazine, Humane Pursuits, Patheos, The Burg, Healthy Leaders, and her personal blog rachaeldymski.com. She is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of The Crawl Space Journal, a literary journal for readers and writers of Young Adult Fiction.