Graduation weekend started with Class Night on Thursday evening, May 23, 2019. This was a time to celebrate and recognize numerous achievements of the class. The program opened with prayer by the class pastor Joshua Huslin, and a welcome by the president, Justin Flores. Maia Hamstra presented the class gift.
Two musical selections were presented. Ashley Jankiewicz & Minseo Kang presented Rewrite the Stars. A second selection, Wayfairing Stranger, was given by Tyler Ronto.
Each member of the class of 2019 took the opportunity to thank their parents for all they have done and to give a rose as a thank you for their love and support. As their picture was shown and their recorded tribute was played, seniors came to the front to collect roses to give to their parents. This was followed by a tribute to sponsors for all their hard work throughout the four years of working with the class.
Next was People’s Choice Awards—a series of awards voted on by the class to recognize unique contributions of class members to the class. A large portion of the evening was the presentation of awards to individuals for their achievements while at Andrews Academy. There is a whole spectrum of recognition such as spiritual, academics, music, physical education, leadership, responsibility, etc. The Alumni Legacy pin was given for two (or even three) generations of AA alumni within a family.
Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors pay attention: work hard in school. Numerous seniors were given college scholarships ranging from $10,000 to $48,000 and sometimes even four years of free tuition (more than $100,000 value). Andrews University and other organizations gave well over $3.1 million to Andrews Academy graduates. Andrews University representatives encouraged each senior to follow the direction that God leads them throughout their life and gave a gift to each senior at the conclusion of the program. Kristijan Milovanovic concluded the program with a benediction.
Following the program, a reception and senior artwork display was held in the commons. These were just some of the highlights from a very full evening of celebration.
Thank you to the Junior officers who worked behind the scenes preparing for the reception and taking care of many details.
Friday evening’s program at Village Adventist Church, Consecration (May 24, 2019), is the student’s opportunity to commit and consecrate their lives to Christ as they leave academy and begin their place in society as an adult.
Mr. Greg Almeter had the opening prayer for this program. This was followed by a musical selection by Melissa Buck. Joshua Huslin introduced the guest speaker.
The homily was given by Pastor Andrea Jakobsons, one of AA’s Bible teachers when the class were freshmen. Her homily was illustrated by the visual of taking steps forward or backward as we journey through life. Based on Proverbs 14:9, “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways,” she shared three major points. As you decide what steps to take, remember three words: me, grow, from God? Is the step I am taking in life me, is it the passion I have in my life that God has created in me? Will I grow from this step? And is this from God? Remembering that He will call you for something you will like and be passionate about. She invited seniors to stand to show their desire to consecrate their lives in Jesus as she prayed a prayer of consecration.
The class pastor, Joshua Huslin, on behalf of the class, accepted the challenge Pastor Andrea Jakobsons presented, and challenged the class to evaluate their lives as they make these steps in their lives. Ryan Masengi presented a second musical selection. Curt Vanderwaal had the benediction.
The Consecration service was an inspiring service that indeed focused our attention on consecrating our lives with Jesus. Following the service, many pictures were taken of friends and families. Many smiles were seen as seniors marched in for the first time of graduation weekend wearing their graduation gowns.
Graduation Sabbath School was held in the Andrews Academy chapel (May 25, 2019). This experience gave the parents of the seniors the opportunity to return in a creative manner their views of the senior’s childhood and to admonish, advise, and assist seniors as they make the transition from academy into adulthood. The Ronto family and friends led in song service. The Coffen family had the welcome. Each senior introduced their parent before their parent’s part in the service. Scripture and prayer was led by the Yoong family. Special music was presented by Liebelt family. The Hamstra, Lonto, and Woolford-Hunt families each had parent tributes and shared words of blessings on the seniors. The call for offering was led by the Byrd Family, and the Choi family had the offertory. Angela Newton had the benediction.
This program is always such a personal and interesting time of sharing together. It’s interesting to discover how many families move to the Berrien Springs area or refuse job offers elsewhere for the purpose of having their children attend Andrews Academy. It is often during programs like this that parents share how pleased they are for making this choice and for the wonderful experiences their children have had while having their high school education at Andrews Academy.
Sabbath morning of Graduation Weekend (May 25, 2019) was Baccalaureate service, a service to have a worship experience where you can praise your Creator and thank Him for the wonderful things He has done for you.
The service began with call to worship by Pastor Endi Stojanovic, followed by the congregational hymn, Praise Him! Praise Him! This was followed by prayer by Kevin Shelley. Joon Kang had the offering call, and the AA handbells presented the offertory. David Randall had the scripture reading. Jihoo Choi and Gabriel Palacios-Worley presented special music This Is My Father’s World. The organist for the entire weekend is Dr. Logan.
Pastor Mario Ferguson, AA Bible teacher, presented the sermon God’s Poetry. As you may ask what is next in your life, remember that God has an answer for you. When Jesus sought His disciples, He looked for those who had a willing heart. When He calls you, He will qualify you. So please remember no matter how deep you are in whatever you are in, God is able to rescue you. His Grace is sufficient!
For a video of Pastor Ferguson’s closing appeal, please go to Facebook.
The sermon was followed by the benediction by William Scott. The prayer response was The Lord Bless You and Keep You.
Sunday morning of graduation weekend was Andrews Academy Commencement (May 26, 2019). After the class marched in, the AA board chair, Fares Magesa, began the program with the invocation, followed by class president, Justin Flores, who gave the final address to the class. Special music was presented by strings and conducted by Dr. Elsy M. Gallardo-Diaz.
Dr. Arlyn Drew, parent of a senior, presented the address. It was a combination of advice for the class, and deep, and for many, new, theological insights on the story of Esau and Jacob at Jabbok. She made the significance of the story come to life as she acted out portions of this story. In having the graduates behind the pulpit and the audience in front, she did a masterful presentation talking directly to the seniors as well as directly to the audience throughout her talk. Graduates and the audience gained a much deeper understanding of God’s deep and passionate love for us.
The Silhouettes presented the second special music, Goodbye My Friend, conducted by Mr. Marcelo Martins. Carrie Chao, senior class sponsor, presented the Class of 2019. Mrs. Leiterman then gave the Charge to the Class and the conferring of diplomas. As each student’s name was read, their senior picture was displayed in the background as they walked forward to receive their diploma. Seniors also received a personalized copy of the book Steps to Christ from the Michigan Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
After all the seniors received their diploma, they transferred their tassel to the other side. Mrs. Leiterman introduced the new alumni—the class of 2019, and then introduced the new senior class of 2020. We all sang the commencement hymn Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah. This was followed by the benediction by Mr. Leonard Morant.
Congratulations, graduates, on your accomplishments! May each of you keep God first as you venture out in your next phase of life.
After Commencement, seniors gathered with friends and family to congratulate each other, as well as a group toss of their hats.
Throughout the weekend numerous open houses were held. These are always a fun time to share stories, congratulate and encourage each other. Thank you to the many families who generously shared for these occasions.
It was a fun and spiritually inspiring graduation weekend!
Andrews Academy Spring Orchestra & Chorale Concert was held on Tuesday evening, May 7, 2019. This concert included the Symphony Orchestra, Orion Strings, Chorale, Silhouettes, and various student soloists.
The Band and Bells concert was held on Thursday evening, May 9. It included Resound (bells), Wind Ensemble, and Symphonic Band.
The students all did wonderful presentations.
A big thank you to all of the students who worked diligently in making these such beautiful programs. And a big thank you to the music directors, Dr. Elsy M. Gallardo-Diaz & Mr. Marcelo Martins. Thank you for all of the time and effort they put into developing the skills of the students and presenting the concert. I’m so impressed with how much music and variety of music the students learn.
- Steven Atkins