29 May 2018 Graduate Speeches
We are very proud of our graduating seniors from the class of 2018: Allison Schiebout and Abigail Neel. Below you will find a transcript of their graduation speeches, which we hope will give you a small insight into their experiences at Augustine School.
Abigail Neel, Valedictorian
Robert Frost wrote, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth…two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.”
There comes a time in life when everyone has to grow up; a path has to be chosen—a path that will seemingly determine the rest of your life. At this point it is so easy try to focus on what you want, instead of what God wants. Robert Frost in his quote describes a point in his journey where he reaches a fork in the road. After debating which path to choose, he chose a path that was less travelled by. A path that is not often travelled has tree roots sticking out, ravines, and rocks; it is hard to walk on and it is easy to lose your balance, trip, and fall. But, if you think about it, the whole concept of being a Christian relies on you taking the hard road or “the road less travelled.” The temptation is to follow the ways of the world…to try to avoid the bumps and bruises you get from taking the less travelled path, but the Bible never promises an easy life. As a Christian, you will fall down and it will be hard to stand up–but being able to stand up after all these hardships builds your faith and endurance.
“The temptation is to follow the ways of the world…to try to avoid the bumps and bruises you get from taking the less travelled path, but the Bible never promises an easy life. As a Christian, you will fall down and it will be hard to stand up–but being able to stand up after all these hardships builds your faith and endurance.”
This is very similar to life in general. We as humans have a tendency to hide from our fears and never face them whether those fears be roller coasters, leaving home, or change. We try to avoid these hard situations because we think it will keep us safe, and maybe it does, but you cannot live life in fear. Luckily, we as Christians have the assurance that God will never leave us or forsake us, so we have no need to fear! When living in fear, it is so easy to make comfort an idol and try to avoid the challenges of the road God put us on, but God has big plans for each and every one of us, whether that is going to college, having a family, doing mission work, or even something you would never expect. This Journey is what Augustine has been preparing us for. We are prepared to defend our faith and take each situation as it comes. You may not feel ready, but neither did Frodo and Sam when they first set out on their journey to Mordor to destroy the Ring. Imagine if they had let their fear take over and had not gone, then the book would have ended with Sauron getting the ring and orcs taking over Middle Earth.
I want to share with you a verse that Allison and I have adopted. Psalm 25:4-5 says “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” This verse is a symbol of how we have been calling on the Lord to guide us to the path he wants us to take. It is a plea to help us trust him and follow God’s path no matter where it will take us.
Recently, I have been asked a lot about a cross that I have started wearing on a regular basis. It was actually given to me by my church a little while ago but until a few days ago, I never actually thought about why I was so attached to it. That cross symbolizes hope. It is a visual reminder to myself of who I serve. As most of you know, next year I will be entering an unfamiliar place. I know full well that I am leaving the support of my friends and family and entering a place where I could be marginalized because I am a Christian. But I also know that God has called me to missions, and this is my mission. I am to be a light in the darkness–to show God’s unfailing love in a place that does not acknowledge it. I am not going to lie, I am terrified; it was not the place I would have put myself, but God had different plans.
I leave you today with this…do not be afraid to chart an unexplored course, to step into unknown territory if that is where God is calling you. Instead, seek to do God’s will wherever it takes you even if that means taking the road less travelled.
Allison Schiebout, Salutatorian
Welcome. Thank you Augustine community, family, and friends for joining us in our celebration of an era of our lives and in looking forward with expectation of what is to come.
The summer my family moved halfway across the country to Tennessee, we stayed on Union’s campus, and we spent much time in the pool. My first Tennessee friend was made there; her name was Katelyn Drown. She went to Augustine School. I didn’t know what that school was, but I liked Katelyn. I asked my parents if I could go to Augustine. They said we had a different plan. The summer ended, and I didn’t think about that school for years.
Then suddenly, before my freshman year, I stumbled back into the view of Augustine. I was curious–it seemed so small and strange and different. I was intrigued, but happy where I was; I didn’t want to begin again. But lo and behold, my plans were not the Lord’s plans. I ended up at Augustine School. I did begin again!
It was a short journey to the brick school tucked back in the woods, but a journey that I felt weighing heavily. Starting new was hard, and I dragged my feet. But I soon found that Augustine was a wonderful place. It was a place of real learning, a place where we were compelled to study the good, the true, and the beautiful. It was a place of close friendships and doing life together as a community. We played sports to discover virtues and camaraderie, not to win or die trying; we did plays for the sake of learning antiquated scripts and old ways of the theatre. We studied hard, but it was for the sake of our minds and souls, not simply to get a grade. It caused me to redefine school. School was not just a cold stone building that I was to clock in and out of, do the work and get the grades. School is the opportunity and privilege to gain an education–to read the works of those wiser, to learn Latin and Greek, to study God’s creation, and to dwell with his people. It is the opportunity to learn to live and to lead under the mentorship of Godly professors who have lived and led longer. It is an opportunity and a blessing that is not to be taken for granted.
“We studied hard, but it was for the sake of our minds and souls, not simply to get a grade. It caused me to redefine school.”
My years at Augustine school have been chock-full of good times. Times of laughter and light and running through the woods. I’m so so grateful for these years. So grateful for getting to have class outside and watch the seasons pass. Grateful for getting to love all these kids and be loved by them. So grateful for the things I’ve read, and the way I’ve been pushed to face my thoughts and views and evaluate whether they are true and right. I’m grateful that I’ve been placed under wonderful leadership, under teachers who go above and beyond to put in more hours than seems possible. They have poured their care into us and modeled godly lifestyles and marriages. I’m grateful for deep, genuine friendships that I’ve built with godly young men and women who are willing to go adventuring and also sit down and talk philosophy and practical Christianity.
Augustine has cared about and shaped my entire mind, body, and soul. My loves and interests have been shaped to turn towards good things–I don’t think I ever would have gotten so excited about Shakespeare. I have been taught that the internal workings of my soul and mind, and that the way I think and approach the world around me, is every bit as important as the information I am able to repeat on evaluations.
“I have been taught that the internal workings of my soul and mind, and that the way I think and approach the world around me, is every bit as important as the information I am able to repeat on evaluations.”
It’s a beautiful place, Augustine School. It has become a home to me. I am daily thankful for the Lord’s providence in placing me there.
In some ways, Abigail became the Frodo to my Sam as we charged forth towards the little death of graduation. We journeyed, struggled some, and worked to find encouragement. We enjoyed other times. Our little class of 2018 found that solidarity is a great thing. We found that when things get hard and our souls grow weary we must remember, as Augustine says in the beginning of his Confessions: “You stir man to take pleasure in praising you, because you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
And here we are. The last paper has been written, the final evaluations turned in. Abigail and I have said farewell to Augustine School for a time. And now we come to the precipice of yet another new beginning, as we leave this small shire of a school and go out a little (or a lot) further.
My friends, I do believe that it is time for a new adventure.