Veritas Christian School Administrator Kelli Huslig said the size of the class of 2017 presented an unprecedented question to the school’s staff.
“Our teachers wondered with a class this size if you could come together,” Huslig said at the school’s commencement Sunday at the Lawrence Free Methodist Church. “As staff, it’s been fun to watch you come together and learn to work together.”
Their principal need not have worried about the togetherness of the 15 in the class, said graduate Alyssa Krestan, who will enroll at Calvary University to study linguistics or English.
“I’ve been at Veritas since kindergarten,” she said. “I have been with my classmates a very long time. We are very close. We really are family.”
This year's was the largest class in the school’s history, but the school still provides an intimate environment, said graduate Brienne Billings.
“What makes Veritas special is the relationships you have with teachers and students,” said Billings, who plans to attend Johnson County Community College for a year before transferring to Washburn University to study physical therapy.
Michael Rask, one of four class valedictorians with Rebecca Burmingham, Miranda Fischer and Peyton Slavens, said class bonds were strengthened because of the many activities the students shared during the years at Veritas. They were always together as teammates, members of choir, band or cast members, he said.
In his commencement words to his classmates, Rask said the graduates also shared their Christian faith and trust in the path God has for them. Rask’s path will next take him to Kansas State University to major in business.
In her remarks to her class, Fischer said Veritas teachers provided guidance to the class in good and bad times.
“We often struggled, but our teachers didn’t give up on us,” said Fischer, who will attend Wisconsin Lutheran College to study early childhood education and theater.
The teachers' faith in them gave the students the insight not to give up on themselves and allowed them to develop the patience, faithfulness and self-control they needed to succeed, Fischer said.
Veritas had empowered the students to look beyond themselves and to the glory of God, Burmingham said in her valedictorian remarks.
That would be important as the graduates made daily choices that would ultimately define them, said Ethan Scott, the first Veritas graduate to return as a commencement keynote speaker at the school. Now a commercial real estate appraiser in Tulsa, Okla., Scott graduated in 2015 from Oral Roberts at the top of his business administration class.
The graduates would be tempted to turn away from God by such things as money, family and education, Scott said. Those blessings would come if they made God first in their daily lives, he said.
“Bible stories can be broken down to the choices a man and woman make,” he said. “So often we focus on method, when God’s method is generally a purpose. A man or woman who follows that path usually leads to good things.”