CHESTERTOWN — The fundamentals of education include the three R’s of reading, writing and arithmetic.
On Friday night, in his message to the graduates of Chestertown Christian Academy, Pastor Mel Brindley added the five C’s of celebration, contemplation, consideration, counsel and challenge.
In an animated talk that lasted about 30 minutes, Brindley, the longtime pastor of Chestertown Baptist Church, suggested how the graduates might answer the question, “Where are you in your journey of life?”
Graduation from high school is an awesome time, said Brindley, but it’s also a time of great transition.
He started off his May 27 commencement address by congratulating the graduates and encouraging them to celebrate.
Life can be rough, life can beat you down, life can disappoint you, Brindley acknowledged. “But when you are successful, take some time to celebrate and enjoy it,” he said. By graduating from high school, “you have accomplished something great.”
At the tender age of 17 or 18, members of the Class of 2016 already have lived one-quarter of their lives — if they live to be 70, said Brindley, doing the math.
When coming to the proverbial fork in the road that the milestone of graduation offers, don’t just take it, as baseball player-turned-humorist Yogi Berra suggested. Take the time to have some serious and sobering thinking about your next steps, Brindley advised.
“You are responsible for making the right choices,” he said. “If you make good decisions, you’ll have a good life. If you make bad decisions, you’ll have a tough life.”
Carelessness, stubbornness and impulsiveness must be cast aside when making decisions, said Brindley. He urged the graduates to put thought and consideration into every step they take on their journey of life, knowing that any plan does not work automatically.
Through it all, he encouraged them to seek God’s mercy, help and guidance.
Valedictorian Allie Tucker reinforced Brindley’s message in her senior speech titled “He shall direct thy path.”
Tucker is headed to Chesapeake College in the fall with plans to transfer to Salisbury University for a four-year degree. She is going to major in video game design.
Friday’s commencement was the 37th for Chestertown Christian Academy, and the 34th for Brindley.
The Class of 2016 was led by Tucker and salutatorian Daniel Frain, who will attend Geneva College, Pa., and major in engineering.
Also graduating were Leah Dashiell, Cody Eichler, Chris Kerr and Jesse Stewart. They, too, are college-bound in the fall.
In voting by the faculty, high school juniors and their senior classmates, Dashiell was chosen Miss CCA and Eichler was selected Mr. CCA as the best representatives of what it means to be a Chestertown Christian Academy student.
Dashiell will pursue an associate degree in liberal arts at Chesapeake College, while Eichler has enrolled in the auto mechanics program at Universal Technical Institute in Exton, Pa.
Chestertown Christian Academy celebrated its annual commencement on the eve of the extended Memorial Day weekend, with ceremonies in the adjoining Chestertown Baptist Church. Pastor Brindley led the processional, followed by Principal Joseph Baugher and then the Class of 2016.
Each of the graduates presented roses to their parents and others who have played significant roles in their lives.
Principal Baugher announced that Dashiell was awarded a $2,000 Carl DelSignore Foundation Buffalo Coal Company Scholarship that can be renewed annually for up to five years, while Tucker received a $1,000 Sarah and Rachel Baugher Scholarship as the graduating senior with the highest grade point average.
An alumni testimonial was given by Matt Lockerman, Class of 2011, who said he benefited from the strong foundation, lasting friendships and quality education he received at Chestertown Christian Academy.
“CCA pushed me to be the best student I can be,” said Lockerman, who graduated from college in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in medical office/legal office administration.
In the formal ceremony, which took place in the front of the church in the altar area, Pastor Brindley presented the diplomas and Principal Baugher turned the tassel on the cap of each of the graduates.
The rising seniors, after being passed the “torch,” led the recessional, each carrying a battery-operated candle.