handing-out-full-fledged graduation ceremony. Basically, it was the real deal. My pessimistic thought for the day was that middle schools have started holding these ceremonies because so many kids (40% was the statistic I heard today) will never graduate high school. For many of them, today is their graduation day--their one and only graduation day.
The cool thing about this ceremony were the kids from our youth group whom we were there to celebrate. We were invited by Dylan, the poster child for our student ministry if there ever was one. When I came to St. Mark 3 years ago, Dylan was just entering the 6th grade. We quickly became close friends--in fact, Dylan may have been my very first friend at St. Mark! I have seen Dylan grow and be challenged so much over the past three years. He speaks with wisdom beyond his years, and he's just about the nicest kid you'll ever meet. It was no surprise to me, then, when he walked away from the ceremony today with a handful of trophies for academic excellence and other positive contributions to his school and community.
Samantha "Sam" Decker was the other student of ours involved in the ceremony. Sam has been involved in our student ministry for a couple years now. After being invited to youth group by a friend, she has become one of the core kids in our middle school ministry. The cool thing about her is that she accepted the Lord as the result of our ministry. Not only that, but since becoming a part of our ministry, her mom started coming to church. Her mom also began bringing one of her friends to church, and that woman accepted Christ through the ministry of our church shortly before dying at an early age from cancer. One of the coolest stories you'll ever hear.
But back to Sam...she literally stole the show today. Sam was one of two students in her grade who received all A's this entire school year. She also walked out with another half dozen or so trophies and awards for things such as top orchestra student and outstanding work on the school's TV broadcasting team (by the end of the ceremony they actually gave her a box to carry all of her trophies!). Basically, she dominated!
All in all, it was a proud moment for Seth and me as we watched Dylan and Sam today. God has been doing incredible things in their lives, and it has just been great to play a part in helping them grow. I couldn't be more proud of these two! Way to go, Dylan and Sam!
Seth, Sam, Dylan, and Me.