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My experience at Eastern Christian started about 14 years ago, as I waved goodbye to my mom, as she dropped me off for my first day of pre-school, in Mrs. Bushman’s class. Little did I know that I was about to embark on a 14 year long journey through Eastern Christian, that would bring me to where I am now.
Kindergarten came, as I brought my teddy bear with me to Mrs. Johnston’s class, and that is where I began to meet more of you sitting here tonight. Before I knew it, I would be singing songs about Noah’s Ark in our fourth grade chapel, playing tug of war in the sand at Spring Lake, and finally, moving on to the great and mysterious middle school.
Middle School offered many new opportunities for us, and would be where some of the funniest, most memorable, and definitely the most awkward memories were made.  From Mr. Hutton’s joke of the day, to the National Park Project with Mr. Henderson, Mrs. Tyvoll dumping water on our heads in a Bible lesson, to the 8th grade dance, to finally graduating middle school. It was time to move on to high school- It was a bittersweet moment as we had to say goodbye to some of our friends who were going different directions.
I am sure most of us can remember our first day of high school. Trying to find our classes, trying to walk on the right side of the hallway, and trying to get the courage to speak up in our classes. As we moved on throughout High School, different questions began to run through our minds. Who am I? Why am I here? Who are my real friends? Who can I trust? We began to be molded into our own individuals, and began to learn to think for ourselves, and form our own opinions. Our eyes began to be opened whether it was through learning about God’s creation in Ms. Bazanowski’s biology class, learning to be creative with Mrs. Aceino in art class, or learning about our country with Mr. Bev. For some of us, it was simply learning how to manage the different responsibilities that High School came with. We have all experienced extreme growth throughout our high school years. And bringing us to where we are today, we now have the chance to reflect on what these past years have meant to us at EC-whether it has been 14 years, 6 years, or 2 years.
As I look back on my 14 years-one things strikes me the most. And that is, how much my teachers really have had an impact on my life. I am overwhelmed by the amount of support and dedication that they have shown to me, and I am truly thankful. I remember the day that I walked into school in middle school, after my dad underwent an emergency surgery the day before-several of my teachers came up to me, without me even having to explain to them my situation, and offered me prayer, meals for my family, and love. I can also recall my teachers going to sporting events, and cheering me and my team on after school or on the weekends. There have been several times where teachers have made themselves available for me way before school starts, and hours way after school ends, to go over extra review before a test, or simply to help me with my homework because they truly wanted to see me succeed. The thing about teachers at EC, is that they truly do care about me, and they definitely are not confined to their “8 to 3” work schedule. From shaping my faith at an early age in elementary school, to challenging me to learn how to defend my faith in high school, I can say that I would not be where I am academically, but more importantly, spiritually without my teachers at Eastern Christian.
Another thing about my time here at Eastern Christian that has truly left an impact on my life is the relationships that I have been able to build with my classmates. The love and support felt as I walk into school from my classmates is overwhelming. Here at Eastern Christian the students are supportive, encouraging, and caring. From my experience at EC, friends are quick to forgive, and quick to offer me prayer when I have needed it the most. What an honor it has been to share these past 14 years with some extraordinary people sitting in this room with me. I will truly value the friendships made here, for the rest of my life.
Finally, my opportunity to go on two missions trips while at EC has made my experience truly unique. In my sophomore year I went to Puerto Rico, and this past year I was able to serve in Costa Rica. Through these trips my eyes have been opened to see the poverty that is in the world, both physically and spiritually, and I have began to see how God uses his children, just like me, to spread His light. These trips have truly left an impact on my spiritual walk with Christ, and I am so thankful that EC provided those opportunities for me.
I am very thankful for the choice that my parents have made every year since I was 4 years old, to make the sacrifice financially to send me to a Christian school such as Eastern Christian. I am convinced that it has been because of my experience with my teachers and the support that they give me that I am the person I am today. God is certainly doing amazing things through this school. I am thankful for all of the relationships that I have made with my classmates and members of the faculty, and I will cherish the friendships made throughout my time here at EC throughout the rest of my life. Above all, I thank my Heavenly Father because He truly knew what He was doing when He placed me at here at Eastern Christian.