Long-Awaited 2020 Commencement Inspires Shenandoah Valley Academy Graduates
Story by Janel Haas Ware
Often the scene of athletic contests, Zirkle Gymnasium transformed into a house of worship for a properly masked and social-distanced Shenandoah Valley Academy (SVA) Class of 2020 commencement service.
“In these few precious moments that we have together before we go our separate ways, may we turn attention from ourselves long enough to see our Savior and gain strength and courage to stand for the right in the contests of life,” Principal Don Short encouraged. He challenged graduates to, “rise above the world’s mediocrity and choose excellent lives, not of timid decency or minimal reality, but of holy boldness in Christian service and self-sacrifice.”
Gabrielle Patrick echoed this theme in her class president’s address:
“We took this year and made the best out of it. We took our hardships and faced them head-on as a class. We faced our senior year with bravery and determination, although there were a few tears along the way. We went straight toward our hardships, and, with the support of each other, our families, the faculty and staff of SVA and God, we made it.
“When we chose our class scripture at the beginning of this year, we did not realize how much God influenced our decision and how meaningful it would be. ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go’ (Josh. 1:9, NIV). As we go out and start this next part of our lives, we know we will have many successes and adventures. There will be storms and challenges along the way. We can choose our response. … We can run from the storms, or we can press together, support each other and face challenges head-on. We do not have to be afraid or dismayed, because we have the confidence that God is with us wherever we go. He will guide us through the storms.
“Class of 2020, we will forever be a family, and no matter where we go or what we do, we will always be part of the SVA family. I am proud to be here with you all today because we made it together, not necessarily like we would have hoped, but we did it together! Life sends each and every one of us challenges. Let’s choose our responses. Class of 2020, I challenge you to be strong and courageous in everything you do, and no matter where life takes you, know that God will always be with you!”