May flew by because it was an absolutely jam-packed month with exciting things for our church and school. Winding down the school year with celebrations, a beach house fellowship, a science fair, and good times with the Lord’s blessing? Yes, please.
Brother Bobby promised you the graduation, and as always, he’s helping us stay ahead of the game. Special thanks to photographer Sister Hannah James for always having her camera wherever things are happening.
Is there any better life than serving God and being with His people? You’d be hard-pressed to argue otherwise when you see all the smiles coming up.
Hopefully, you’re all slowing down to relax at some point during your couple days off! If only for a minute so you can catch up on this weekend’s Bridge post—down below 😉 xx
If you’re a regular here on The Bridge, you already know what this week’s edition is about.
Last week, we celebrated Onslow Christian Academy and the vision God gave Elder LaFleur nearly forty years ago. That post included comments from thankful parents and alumni and some insight into what drives the entirely volunteer staff. Fast forward a week and here we are, as promised, talking about the 2016 OCA Graduation, a beach bash for the students and staff, and a science fair.
Yes, we have lots of ground to cover, so let’s get started.
Personally, I love our graduations. I’m not sure I can explain why, but I will try.
Sure, there are predictable songs, a few speeches, and the usual recognition, but somehow it means so much more to me. Graduation at Onslow Christian Academy reminds me of the love and sacrifice that causes this school to exist and allows us to realize the dividends of all that labor.
Every year there is the unknown…who will have “the speech?” OMG, what if it’s me?
You see, there ARE traditions at OCA. Every year, Elder LaFleur selects someone (usually an alumnus) to put together a speech for the commencement address. The person selected usually has a few weeks of nervous preparation shrouded in secrecy. This year’s speaker was part of OCA’s Class of 1995, but we’ll talk more about him in few minutes.
Another closely guarded secret at OCA graduations are those that will be recognized as the Man and Woman of the Year. The winners of this distinction are always standouts who have gone above and beyond and impacted the school in some way. This year’s winners truly carry that tradition forward and set the bar high for next year. If you were there, you already know who they are, if not, shame on you, and you’ll have to wait a few more minutes.
Okay, now that the stage is set, maybe you understand a little about why I look forward to graduation. If not, maybe you will see as I share this year’s edition with you.
THE STAGE IS SET
It’s 5:50 pm. I’m in my seat in the band. As usual, I’m cutting up with my fellow band members and looking over the evening’s program. I see that Brother Jonathan Shepard is the speaker, and I’m really looking forward to hear from him.
Now it’s 6:00 pm.
First up is “My Tribute: To God Be the Glory.” The back door opens and students file in youngest to oldest. Each parent is looking to see their son or daughter.
In short order, they are standing at their seat. The music briefly ends. Then Brother Darrell plays that first familiar note of “Pomp and Circumstance” and the two graduates enter.
First Brother Taylor. Then Brother Isaac.
Having seen the two grow up, they are more to me than just young men that go to my church. They are both a part of my family.
Just one time through that familiar tune and the graduates stand on stage. Now everyone is looking at them. But not for long.
Up next is Brother Zaine and Brother Dominic to fulfill the duties that Brother Taylor and Brother Isaac have fulfilled for the past few years. The “Pledge to the Bible” followed by “The Pledge of Allegiance”.
Now we’re really working through the program.
Sister Patti welcomes everyone and introduces the Chief Administrator Elder LaFleur. From his seat, he welcomes the family and shares a little background about the school as only he can. In very few words, Elder drives home his love for this year’s graduates, and the passion and tenacity that created and ensures the school’s existence into the future.
After Elder’s remarks, Brother Darrell and Sister Trecinda sing, “Because You Loved Me.” Brother Darrell has a way of singing songs with a message that speaks to Christ’s love for us.
He and his wife sing it beautifully together.
Then suddenly, it’s Brother John’s turn.
Now Brother John is behind the pulpit and launches into a familiar cadence thanking the family for coming, acknowledging the Elder and staff, encouraging the students, giving some sage advice to the graduates and then it’s over. He sits down and that is that. Wait a minute! What did he actually say?
Well, his speech was great just as I would have expected from a member of the class of 1995. His words were well-chosen and delivered in his personality and with his years of experience to ground them. In typical John Shepard fashion, he won the audience over and couched his thoughts in Bible scriptures and wisdom he has collected over many years under this ministry.
Maybe this is why I love our graduations and this church…they have that personal touch!
You see, the students of Onslow Christian Academy are just like the saints and the ministry at The Church at Onslow. They are given information which is demonstrated through example and grounded in the Word of God. Then they roll that information around in their heads and bounce it off of their experiences and what comes out is a personalized version of what they have been taught.
This process doesn’t change the message. It strengthens the message by proving it.
If you know Elder LaFleur, you know he never asks us to copy him, and that’s a good thing because he is a unique man with a gift and calling like no other man I have ever known. What he looks for are saints that are heading where he leads. That is towards Christ.
MAN AND WOMAN OF THE YEAR
So, who were the Man and Woman of the year? This year’s selection was near and dear to The Bridge. It was The Bridge’s very own Lisa Meinhardt and her wonderful husband, Christopher Meinhardt.
You see, in the past year or so, these two people have worked tirelessly to celebrate the church and school. They, with a team around them, have assisted with a new church website, launched The Bridge, led the cast and crew in a “way too cute” Christmas program, as well as, the upcoming production of the musical Pilgrim all while being gracious to anyone they touch.
Brother Christopher and Sister Lisa, you are truly the 2016 Man and Woman of the Year! Congratulations and thank you for all you do!
WHAT ABOUT THE GRADUATES?
You are so right! Tonight is about the graduates, so let’s turn our focus to them.
Now Sister Patti Mayer is on her feet, and it’s time to present the Class of 2016. First Brother Taylor, then Brother Isaac…applause, pictures, and back to their seats for the turning of the tassels.
Then it’s time for the speeches…ahh, the graduate speeches.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to narrate their speeches. I thought Brother Nobles did a great job summing them up on Sunday by saying, “It’s rare in this day and time to hear young people use the word love correctly and mean it,” but that is exactly what we heard from these two young men. Each of the graduates had their own personality. Each were thankful for the school that nurtured them. Each recalled help they received from various teachers, and each gave honor to those teachers, their parents, and their friends.
You could tell that these two graduates truly love their teachers and classmates!
PRETTY SPECIAL, HUH?
By now, I hope you can see why I love our graduations and this place.
It’s not about the ceremony. It’s an opportunity to hear someone you have known and seen come through life’s battles, stand to their feet and say, “I am what I am by the grace of God” and then go on to tell you about how fortunate they are that God’s grace brought them to a place such as Onslow Christian Academy. It’s a chance to once again celebrate the vision that turned into a school…a school that has shaped so many lives! It’s a formal opportunity to recognize the labor of the staff and all who volunteer.
It’s just a wonderful night in a wonderful place and I love it!
2) OCA SCIENCE FAIR
Sister Dee Dee Reagen is a science teacher at OCA who provides guidance and an introduction into the sciences. Students discover processes of how things work as they explore the fascinating miracles God created on earth and beyond.
She keeps students involved with hands-on learning by requiring her class to research and conduct experiments. The students prepare, explain, and demonstrate their exhibits in the annual science fair.
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE THREE WINNERS!
3) A BEACH HOUSE FELLOWSHIP
I know, right?!
The Lord has given us so many blessings!
Brother Dan and Sister Dee Dee Reagen, her parents (Brother Harry and Sister Joan Eldon), and her wonderful family invited our teachers, school students, and alumni for hours of fun in the sun for a special teacher appreciation day.
Flying kites, blasting water guns, splashing waves, digging in the sand, making arts and crafts (that you could eat!), and playing games of all sorts are just a few things they had going on for our teachers and students to enjoy. They also treated everyone to a delicious lunch!
Thank you from OCA for everything you did to give our teachers and students a terrific day!