This year’s Bridgeway Graduation Ceremony is in the books, and the verdict is … this year might have been the best one yet! Over 30 students from around the country, and some international students, joined us at the Providence Presbyterian Church in Quakertown, PA for our 24th annual Bridgeway Homeschool Academy Graduation.
Graduation is a great opportunity for students and Bridgeway staff who have been working together for years but have never met to finally fellowship with one another. So we start our graduation day by enjoying a catered breakfast together and then get to know each other better through games. It is always a great feeling to see students who’ve been interacting via email and technology for years finally get to meet each other in person. It’s like meeting a long-distance pen pal for the first time, and as a homeschool Advisor, it’s one of the most heartwarming and validating feelings.
Graduates also have an opportunity to create a display board telling their fellow graduates and families about themselves and showcasing their hard work which others can view throughout the day. From artwork to pictures to medals, these displays show just how accomplished our graduates were! Viewing our student’s displays and seeing the excitement in their eyes makes all of our efforts worth it!
After a quick rehearsal, our students got into their caps and gowns, took formal pictures with friends and family, and made their way into the sanctuary for the ceremony. And what a beautiful ceremony it was!
Because this ceremony is about them and their accomplishments, we welcome and encourage participation from our graduates. And their talents were quite evident throughout the ceremony! Our students volunteered to read passages from scripture and poetry that were meaningful to them through their homeschool years and 2 of our graduates sang a duet “For Good” from the musical Wicked. Finally, we were all challenged and encouraged by our Valedictorian, Elizabeth Carter, whose speech was entitled, “Embrace Life.” Her speech was so incredibly moving I wanted to share some of it with you:
We are in a crucial moment where we truly begin our journey into the uncertain world of adult hood. In this moment I challenge you to continually challenge yourself and not be discouraged by the reality put in front of you. … I’m challenging you to invest in your mind, invest in your health. Seek further knowledge and deeper truth. We live in a world divided and broken…unhealthy and hurting. I’m not asking you to take a side, I’m not asking you to point fingers as to who is to blame and who is not. I am asking you to be brave enough to propose solutions for the betterment of all mankind.
But we didn’t stop there, we had something special in store for our graduates this year: an awards ceremony. Based on the interactions we have had with our students over the past four years, we were able to select six students to receive the following awards: the Fine Arts award, Performing Arts award, Outstanding Athlete award, Outstanding Service award, Christian Ministry award, and the Industrial Art award. Each student was surprised as we didn’t tell them ahead of time. They were so excited and grateful to be recognized for their hard work and amazing accomplishments!
After the ceremony, graduates, families, guests, and Bridgeway staff stayed for a Bar-B-Q picnic where we continued to celebrate their achievements and spend time with one another. Many parents with older students who had previously graduated with Bridgeway stated that this was our best graduation yet, in large part due to the amazing participation of our graduates and the extra time given to fellowship. It’s so important to provide experiences, like graduation, for homeschooled students. The relationships built and community created are invaluable.
Congratulations to all of our graduates this year! You all were a true inspiration to us and while we’re sad to see you go, we’re proud and excited that you’re taking the next steps into adulthood. Good luck, and in the words of your valedictorian remember, Embrace Life!