Education

‘Have faith in God.’ Bradenton Christian students share a final sermon for graduation

BCS Class of 2019 celebrates God and graduation

Owen Thomas was Bradenton Christian School's student speaker for the Class of 2019, which graduated on May 23.
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Owen Thomas was Bradenton Christian School's student speaker for the Class of 2019, which graduated on May 23.

Life can be painful, and graduates of Bradenton Christian School were encouraged to find comfort and motivation in their faith.

Science teacher Ben Holt lost both of his parents in the last several years, and his remaining grandparent passed away just weeks ago. But with all of life’s hardships, there are blessings, he said.

Holt and his wife are expecting two children, and his students brought joy and lasting memories to the halls of Bradenton Christian. He spoke to a crowd of 53 graduates and their families — brothers and sisters in Christ — at a ceremony on Thursday evening, hosted at the Bayside Community Church on State Road 64.

“Life is hard,” he said. “With Jesus, things are different. The Alpha Omega gives us new expectations. He made it all. This is all his. He can do as he pleases, and this pleases him.”

Each graduate received a Bible before their diploma. The teacher encouraged his students to celebrate their accolades, but to cherish the word of God even more.

“As you go, I hope you have felt loved,” Holt said. “I hope you learned about God’s great creation. Know that I expect great things from you. I expect great love and kindness from you, for one another, always.”

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Graduating senior Owen Thomas brought laughter and words of advice to Bradenton Christian School’s graduation ceremony on May 23, 2019. Giuseppe Sabella gsabella@bradenton.com

Dan Vande Pol, the school superintendent, said Thursday’s graduates fulfilled the school’s mission: to prepare the hearts and minds of God’s children. He recognized the students for their athletic prowess, classroom achievements, musical performances and acting chops.

“Class of 2019, you’ve left a very positive impression on our campus,” he said. “You represented Christ, you represented your family, you represented the church so well — on campus and off.”

And the student speaker, Owen Thomas, offered both a sermon and a comedy routine, often poking fun at the school’s teachers.

“Thank you Dr. McBane for having spiked your hair more than I did in the sixth grade,” he quipped.

Thomas was one of several graduating seniors who attended Bradenton Christian from preschool through 12th grade. His peers formed bonds throughout elementary school, becoming a family by middle school and alumni by Thursday evening.

He urged classmates to honor the words of Jesus in Mark 11:22. “Have faith in God,” Thomas said at Thursday’s ceremony, outlining the challenges ahead.

“Temptations, failures, persecution of faith and many other things that will try to take us away from God’s light,” he said. “But I ask you — I implore you — to stay on the path of righteousness.”

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