GRANDVIEW - The chatter rustling through the sanctuary of Grandview's Nazarene Church last Friday night came to an abrupt halt as the 17 members of the Sunnyside Christian High School class of 2005 burst through the doors and one by one marched to the front of the church. Each graduate, wearing a crimson gown, took their seat at the front of the church knowing that it would be the last time the class would be together as one.
According to Salutatorian Carly DeGroot, 10 of the 17 graduates have been together since kindergarten.
"We know each other extremely well," DeGroot said. "We've remained unchanged in the way we are true to ourselves and true to each other."
She then took time to thank everyone for coming to the graduation ceremony. DeGroot noted that simply coming to the ceremony shows support for the Sunnyside private school.
DeGroot thanked the parents of the graduates.
"You have raised us to be the young adults we are today," she said.
Turning her attention to her teachers, DeGroot thanked them for helping each student in the class of 2005 get to the point of graduation. She added that because of their efforts "...we think college will be a breeze.
"I can't believe how incredibly fast the past 12 years have passed, especially the past four," DeGroot said. "I treasure the relationships I've had with each of you," she said looking at her fellow graduates.
Valedictorian Andrew Friend echoed DeGroot's sentiments, noting that over the years the 17 members of the class of 2005 have grown extremely close.
"Being a small class has its advantages and disadvantages," Friend said. He noted that one of the advantages is how well you are able to get to know the students you see in class every day. Friend said one of the disadvantages is that you get to know each other so well that you get into quarrels.
Looking over at his fellow classmates, Friend left them with one last thought.
"We, as a class, just finished a chapter in our lives," Friend said. "And we are beginning another."
Before hearing from the class speaker, Pastor Lloyd Wicker of the Sunnyside Christian Reform Church, two representatives from the class presented their soon-to-be alma mater with one last gift. The class purchased a digital camera for the Sunnyside Christian High School yearbook staff.
As Wicker took to the front of the church to address the graduates, standing facing the 17 members of the class, he told them that he was faced with conflicting emotions.
"First there is sadness," Wicker said. "I probably won't get to see you as much in the future. You will be missed."
"On the other hand, I'm incredibly proud of you," Wicker continued.
Wicker said one thing he wanted the graduates to take with them after they turned their tassels was the love of learning.
"You don't graduate from learning," he said. "Keep learning, it has to be a life long pursuit."
Following Wicker's presentation to the class, Sunnyside Christian High School Principal Dean Wagenaar presented each of the students with their scholarships and other awards. Combined, the students earned more than $42,000 in scholarship funds, not including a full scholarship to the United States Military Academy at West Point received by graduate Patrick Elerding.
Then one by one, each of the graduates walked up and received their diploma from Wagenaar. Then together, the class of 2005 moved their tassel and went from being students at Sunnyside Christian High School to alumni.