Trinity graduates prepared for more than diplomas

It’s good to be prepared.

Students at Trinity Lutheran High School spent the 2018-19 school year preparing for tests, sporting events, academic competitions and musicals.

But by studying God’s Word and developing their faith through the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Class of 2019 has prepared for something much bigger than receiving their diplomas.

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Although no one knows what their future might bring, Trinity graduates know they have been prepared to go out into the world and serve the Lord.

During the school’s annual commencement ceremony Saturday morning, the 31 seniors said goodbye to high school and took the next steps toward what lies ahead. For some, that path will lead to college. For others, it’s on to trade school or even the military.

“Trinity has blessed us and given us confidence in both our education and faith,” said class Salutatorian Megan Pottschmidt.

High school may have been difficult, she added, but at Trinity, the students walked together with Christ.

“To be honest, there is not a place you won’t find him, and I would say that is what has truly prepared us to be Christian servants and leaders,” she said.

This year’s valedictorians were seniors Abby Schult, Mark Shoemaker and Nathaniel Bauman, who were at the top of their class academically and were involved in many extracurricular activities and volunteer work during their four years at Trinity.

They based their speeches on Psalm 113:3: “From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised.”

Each student discussed a different time of the day and what it means spiritually for their past, present and future.

Schult said the “rising of the sun” is symbolic of baptism and being born into the kingdom of God along with early childhood years and new beginnings.

“We have faced changes and challenges, along with great joys and accomplishments and stuck together as one body of Christ,” Schult said. “And yet, our time at Trinity is part of our morning, our beginning to the rest of our lives.”

With graduation, the class is facing yet another morning, beginning adulthood and going off on their own separate paths, but always with the Lord by their side, she said.

Although she admits she doesn’t necessarily like getting up early in the mornings, Schult said she realizes how important the beginning of each day is.

“If the rest of my mornings are as enjoyable as the time spent with classmates at Trinity, maybe one day I will become a morning person,” she said.

Shoemaker said the afternoon compares to the middle of their high school career. But the transition from sophomore to junior year was hard, he said.

Although he wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon, Shoemaker said he learned by taking Advanced Placement biology that God had a different plan for him.

“Throughout those two years, our class, like myself, started to learn about who we are,” he said. “We realized our strengths and weaknesses. We also started to picture ourselves beyond Trinity.”

Afternoons are also like the middle of one’s life, he added.

Shoemaker is going to Indiana University in Bloomington this fall to study accounting, finance and entrepreneurship at the Kelley School of Business, but he said what he does with his life is ultimately up to God.

“People love to plan out their lives, but it is clear that the Lord’s purpose will always shine through,” he said. “We might change our occupation 10 times throughout our lives. We just need to trust in him to put us where we need to be.”

Excited by the uncertainty ahead, Shoemaker said he doesn’t want to live a “cookie-cutter life,” and he sees the middle of the day as early enough to change the outcome of his life.

“I think we are about to have a wake-up call from the challenges and hardships of midday, but that being said, we should also be thrilled that we still have time left to adapt into something new,” he said.

Although the evening is a time of rest for many, for high school students, evening compares to their senior year, and there is still plenty to do, Bauman said.

“From sports to homework to part-time jobs, we sometimes struggle to find time to relax,” he said. “Everything must be set in order before we finally fall asleep.”

But after night, the sun will rise again in the morning, and the previous day’s activities have prepared them for the new day, he said.

The same can be said for death, and students at Trinity know they have been prepared for life everlasting.

“God has prepared that glorious awakening for us through Jesus’ death on the cross and subsequent resurrection,” Bauman said. “So even as we close our eyes for the final time, in the final evening of our lives, we can be confident that we do have a tomorrow.”

The Rev. Douglas Bauman, father of Nathaniel Bauman, delivered the graduation message on being strong and courageous.