Greenville Christian School


Senior Addresses

2017 – Senior Graduation Valedictorian Address

By Marissa Hauser 

Faculty, family, and friends: I would like to thank all of you for coming to this celebration of the achievements and graduation of the Class of 2017, and for supporting us as we prepare to open a new chapter in our lives. To my classmates: congratulations on making it through four years of high school! Let’s focus on this euphoric feeling of freedom for a moment before we have to face the realities of entering the work force or beginning another four or eight years of higher education. In all seriousness, thank you all for being my friends. We’ve all grown much closer over the past few years, and I wouldn’t trade the experience of knowing and loving y’all for anything in the world.
Winnie the Pooh said, “When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very ‘Thingish’ inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.” I feel like this applies to all of us as we begin our journey into the next phase of our lives and we are hard pressed to answer all of the questions that our families, friends, and even strangers ask us about our futures. “What are you studying in college?” “Where will you be living?” “Have you already thought of a career you would like to pursue?” Sometimes the ideas and plans we have for ourselves sound silly or impractical when we say them out loud, so most of us have formed our own stock answers that we give in these situations. Our Things, or plans, which we have been crafting very carefully and seem very ‘Thingish’, aren’t met with the enthusiasm that we had for them, so we try to change them.
Really, this happens at every stage in our lives; our hopes aren’t greeted with equal enthusiasm, things rarely happen according to plan or even turn out vaguely similar to what we had envisioned in our minds, and that’s okay. The future is unknowable to everyone except God, his approval is all we need, and the best we can do is to pray, look for guidance, and move forward. Of course, this is all much easier said than done. Nevertheless, one comforting story does come to my mind: Jonah. Most people don’t see his story as comforting so much as a precautionary tale. He tried to run away from God himself after he was told to minister to Nineveh, a notoriously violent city, got thrown out of a boat by the crew, got swallowed by a whale, and then got spit up onto a beach. Normally, in Sunday School, the teacher will tack on something with the idea of ‘this is what happens if you disobey’ or ‘God is omnipresent.’ While those aren’t wrong, I think they miss a more positive blessing to be drawn from Jonah’s life.
Despite Jonah actively trying to distance himself from God’s plans for him, he still ended up exactly where he needed to be. How much easier should it be for us if we are actively trying to listen to what God tells us? Theoretically, we shouldn’t need to be swallowed by a whale in order to go to college or choose a career. Instead, we can rest in knowing things will work out and we have no reason to worry. Jeremiah 29:11 reads, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Let us have peace in this! Let us have hope for the promises ahead of us and be thankful for the blessings that have already been given to us! That being said, peace is not complacency, nor is hopefulness a blind, general sense of happiness in doing nothing while waiting for miracles to drop in your lap.
I want to encourage everyone, audience and soon-to-be graduates alike, to work and live with a passion, and to do everything to the best of your abilities. William Butler Yeats said that education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. Push yourself, try new things, think new thoughts and learn new things, because the moment you stop learning is the moment that you are mentally dead. Have humility when your life is turning up roses and have humor when you feel like you’re at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Be compassionate to everyone you meet, regardless of ideologies, and love your neighbor as yourself. Above all else, love God and have faith in his ultimate plan for you. Things may never be ‘Thingish’ enough, but life is about the journey and not the destination, to be cliché. I don’t know how often we will all be together again, if at all, but know that I love you all and I can’t wait to see how the story of y’all’s lives play out. Thank you.

2017 – 8th Grade Recognition Address

By Caroline Feezel (2017 Graduating Class)

Hello everyone, my name is Caroline Feezel. I’ve been at GCS since Kindergarten and just graduated third in my class last Friday. Usually the Salutatorian makes this speech at 8th grade’s graduation, but she is actually in Switzerland today, which I am so jealous of. I did consider hiding in her suitcase, but then it would have been over the weight limit and we all know what kind of trouble that would've caused. So, I was next in line and it is an honor to be able to speak to y'all today. Before I get started rambling on about high school and spouting off super inspiring quotes, I wanted to give y'all a little background on myself. I have grown up at GCS and in a Christian home, and have been so blessed by the amazing and godly teachers, coaches, and friends I have known over the past several years here. While at GCS I played volleyball, ran track, did DI, and also tried Basketball and Softball my freshman year. I took part in mission trips to Oklahoma, the Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica as well. Being a part of these organizations has been a incredible blessing and allowed me many experiences and opportunities I will cherish for a lifetime. I am so thankful for GCS and the memories I made there. High school was a blast. High school is a blast.
It can be crazy and stressful and difficult, but it can also be amazing. Each year the homework load will get a little bit heavier, your schedule will get a little bit busier, and your list of responsibilities will get a little bit longer. Every grade matters, every point you score matters, and everything you say matters. So be kind. I cannot tell you what a difference kind words make. Proverbs 3:3-4 says, “Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them down deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and men, and you will earn a good reputation.” No matter how good you are at sports, how popular, attractive or smart you are, people want to befriend people who are kind. People are drawn to people who are loyal. You are a far better picture of Christ to others when you are kind and considerate. The teachers I will cherish the most aren’t the ones who gave less homework or made testing a breeze, but the ones who were respectful to me as a person. The friends I will stay in contact with after I move to college will be the ones who treat me like I really matter to them and are genuinely encouraging to me. So keep in mind how powerful your attitude towards someone can be. Don’t go around complaining about school work to everyone you know. I promise you aren’t any worse off than they are. Don’t walk through the halls with a sour look on your face because you’re incredibly tired, I promise the majority of the school is just as tired as you. Instead, smile at people as you walk by. Tell someone you like their shirt. Try to help a classmate who doesn’t understand an assignment. I cannot stress enough how important it is that you step out of your own bubble and be kind of others. Because isn’t that what Jesus did? Despite being hated by almost everyone around him he treated everyone he encountered with respect and love, therefore so should we.
But here’s one key thing, one thing that will make you change the way you think about life. And if you don’t get this, then you’ve wasted your time in high school. When you start applying to colleges at the end of it all and you go back to each year recording every class you took, sport you played, service project you did and award you won, keep in mind those things don’t define you. You may be Virginia the cheerleader. You may be Tommy, Mr. Witt’s son. You may be Wilson the football player. You may very well have one area in your life where you have truly excelled and people may refer to you with those titles. That’s all find and good. But please don’t see your own identity in your popularity or accomplishments, because God certainly doesn’t. The only identity you have that truly matters is your identity as a child of God. Find your purpose in Him. Find your joy in Him. Find your success and assurance and value in Him. Live boldly for Christ, above anything else. The things you do and the things you say, they definitely matter. But not solely for the sake of having an impressive answer when you’re asked how high your GPA is. Because at the end of the day, the only question that will every really matter will be when you’re standing before the Lord and he asks “Did you know me?” So study hard and ace your test; practice relentlessly and crush the competition, but don’t just do it for yourself. Don’t just do it for your transcript; do it because God is glorified in your efforts when you’re using the talents He gave you to the best of your ability. Don’t let your high school years be all about your accomplishments or how many people said “Hi” to you when you passed them in the halls. Just because you’re going to spend the next four years in high school doesn’t mean school should always be your top priority. Take ice cream to your best friend because she had an awful day and needs encouragement. You can spare some study time to help a friend. Wake up an hour earlier one morning to have breakfast with your dad and ask him how his week has been. You can spare an hour of much needed sleep to invest in your relationship with him. Go fishing with Elijah one weekend because you know he loves it, even if you’re like me and don’t quite understand the joy he gets out of it. The four years you spend in high school are about so much more than school. Instead of letting these years slip away, invest yourself in them. They’ll go fast. When you go to the reception in a little bit and every other person is coming up and telling you “the next four years are gonna go by so fast!” they aren't lying. It will go quick. So before you get thrown into the whirlwind that is high school, I’d really like to encourage you to make a commitment to yourself to not set your main focus on grades, competitions, or popularity. Instead, give every ounce of everything you have to living vibrantly for Christ. Be kind, be caring, and live fiercely in the pursuit of righteousness. Find your identity in Christ. Work heartily in everything you do, as though working for the Lord. I’ll close with this reference from Matthew 6:19-21, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will be also.”
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