Danville Christian Academy graduates 14: Students encouraged to pursue adventures in life

Published 1:30 am Sunday, May 21, 2017

Seek the adventures in life — that’s the message co-valedictorians Madison Elizabeth Carnes and Jenny Beth Cox had for their Danville Christian Academy classmates on Saturday.

But Carnes was quick to add only those adventures that are “morally sound.”

The two teens were selected as co-valedictorians because, Headmaster Debbie Lucas said, “no matter which way we split it, they came up equal.”

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Students also heard from Shane Garrison, an associate professor of educational ministries, the dean of online education and the vice president of enrollment at Campbellsville University.

Carnes and Cox started things off talking about how choosing the adventures in life could lead to unspeakable joy, an unfixed mindset and unending love.

“Choosing the adventure can be frightening, but the benefits far outweigh the risks,” Cox said. 

Carnes said choosing the adventures in life is “just more fun.”

“We were created to live life fully, pushing ourselves past what we believe our limits to be,” she said, sharing memories of how the class had chosen adventures along the way, leading to great joy and the greatest joy. “However, the greatest and purest unspeakable joy comes with serving the Lord with all that you have.”

Cox talked about how an unfixed mindset is a growth mindset, allowing oneself to grow. She related it to how the class as a whole had always excelled in academics, rising to the school’s high standards; and how the seniors were the first class to go to Panama, a change from the normal mission trip to the Dominican Republic.

“We have always grabbed the bull by the horns and hopped on for the ride,” she said. 

The last result of choosing the adventures, said Carnes, would be unending love, again talking about the adventure of “wholeheartedly following Christ.”

The two teens shared a unique quality that they loved about each of their classmates. And they thanked their teachers for their guidance in showing how “true Christ following adventurers live.”

They also gave a final thank you to Lucas, who announced her plans for retirement at the end of the current school year and was met with a standing ovation.

“This adventure would not have been the same without you and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for leading us closer to the Lord and changing our lives for the better,” Cox said. “You are a godly example of vision, of courage, and of faith. We love you.”

Garrison, who said he had a tough speech to follow after the teens, encouraged the students to stay focused in their mission and ministry.

“You’ve demonstrated over and over again that you have the ability to stay on mission,” he said, cautioning the students of how easy it can be to drift.

Garrison left the students with a parting message from his 11-year-old son.

“Be nice people. Especially to the little people,” he said.

Following Garrison, Lucas addressed the students with a graduation blessing. She encouraged the students to always make time for Christ, to meet the needs of others, to give comfort in place of fear, to correct injustices, introduce others to God and to always seek him in times of good and bad.

“Embrace the life he gives you,” Lucas said. “Always seek his face … Love unconditionally as he has always loved you.”

Danville Christian Academy graduated 14 students:

Sarah Elizabeth Bridges, Abbigail Smyth-Carli Brown, Hannah Elise Brunner, Madison Elizabeth Carnes, Jenny Beth Cox, Katherine Grace Crall, Jessie Lee Daniel, James Fernando Donovan, Ethan Garrett Gray, Ethan Luke Howard, James Tyler Mattingly, Jewelia Marie Metz, Jordan Landon Sherrow, and Daryn Jonathan Starr.