Houghton Academy Graduates Class of 2018

HOUGHTON, NY - On Saturday, June 9, Houghton Academy conducted its 130th Commencement Exercises in the Rosemary Tysinger Auditorium, celebrating the graduation of 33 members of the Class of 2018. Family, friends, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, and community members celebrated with the graduates.

The ceremony included speeches from class Valedictorian, Grace Retz, and class Salutatorian, Thomas Wang. Retz spoke to her classmates about how despite their best efforts, their plans will change and that they should rejoice when that happens, whether it seems positive or negative at the time. Retz continued, “You see, while our plans seem to be falling apart, God’s plans are falling into place. And His plans are far beyond what we could have ever imagined. They are plans to prosper us, not to harm us. He is giving us hope; He is giving us a future.”

Retz concluded her speech, “Our plans will be flipped upside down and we will not understand why. I challenge you to express reckless gratitude for the amazing moments of your lives. And when life seems unfair, painful, and broken - when your plans are flipped upside down - express gratitude. God has a purpose for each and every one of you through both the good times and the bad.”

Faculty member and Discipleship Coordinator, Sarah Gurley, delivered the formal commencement address to the graduates and attendees.

Gurley encouraged the Class of 2018 not to let high school be the “best years of their life,” but to “embrace each season without comparison of what came before or what’s to come. Every stage will bring new experiences. The danger is when we hold on to that life stage too hard out of fear that the next one won’t compare. Comparison steals contentment. Live each one of life’s stages to the fullest without fear of what’s to come.”

Continuing, Gurley asked the class to embrace three F’s (despite their association with poor grades): Failure, Fervor, and Faith. Gurley urged the class to learn from their failures, find what they are passionate about (fervor), and lastly to find their faith in God.  

Gurley concluded her address by challenging the class to “do one hard thing every single day. You may be amazed at the person you become and the lives you impact. For each of you are more powerful than you possibly realize. Fail with grace, find your fervor and embrace faith each and every day.”

Class advisor, Ann McNeill, presented the graduates to Judi Mollenkof, Principal, and John Nelson, Head of School, to receive their diplomas. McNeill described the class as leaving a legacy of “accomplishment, talent, fun, and compassion.”

Representing five different countries on three continents, the Class of 2018 will join over 1700 as Alumni of Houghton Academy. Collectively, they received 88 college acceptance letters and 256 college credits.

Members of the Class of 2018 are: Zebedee Ayorinde, Aaron Barber, Alyssa Clark, Charity Colter, Elaina Conklin, Ty Cooley, Kalem DeGolyer, Jun Fang, Cheyenne Heath, Rui Huang, Tom Kawamura, Kevin Li, Lyranda Li, Ray Liu, Liam McNeill, Garrett O’Kelly, Emily Pierce, Elise Poorman, Faith Reinbold, Grace Retz, Jordan Roberts, Lily Sardina, Lily Tang, Luke Tang, Wade Tran, Ivana Vincent-Otiono, Jessica Voss, Thomas Wang, Doris Wang, Hannah Wood, Sean Yang, Brown Ye, Larissa Zheng.  

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