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By STEVEN NALLEY
Matt Loving began his address with Billy Joelâ€™s â€śWe Didnâ€™t Start the Fire.â€ť
Playing the song in full, Loving, pastor for youth and college students at CrossPoint Baptist Church challenged everyone in his audience at First Baptist Churchâ€™s Outreach Center to count all the references to world history and pop culture in the song. The total, he said, was 119, and the closest count came from someone sharing the stage with him: Rikki Williams, a senior at Starkville Christian School.
Williams was one of six SCS seniors who graduated Saturday in a ceremony at the FBC Outreach Center, taking time to look back on their journey and look forward to the challenges ahead.
Loving said his reason for bringing up Billy Joel was to make the graduates and the audience consider how many people live to make an impact in the world, only to find that impact temporary. He said while ambitions are important, the students should primarily seek to love God and love one another, because love lasts forever.
â€śIt has eternal value, not temporal value like many of the things in the song we just played,â€ť Loving said. â€śThe only thing that matters is the character that comes out of you ... not all the other achievements you have in life. (There is an) extreme difference between people who live to make a name for themselves and people who seek to make a name for the Lord.â€ť
Loving was not the only speaker on stage during the ceremony. Valedictorian Ryan Lawrence gave an address early in the ceremony and concluded it with a benediction song performed together with classmate Matthew Rives. In his address, Lawrence made reference to 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, in which the apostle Paul compares Christian living to running a race.
â€śI can say with full confidence that the race we all ran with the aid of our teachers has not been in vain,â€ť Lawrence said. â€śWe worked together while desperately trying to prepare for upcoming tests. Weâ€™ve tasted the sweetness of success and the bitterness of failure. One thing is for certain â€” our race will not end here.â€ť
Lawrence said he remembers his first day at SCS and how many adjustments he had to make. In the end, he said, those adjustments were worth it.
â€śI could feel there was something special about this school,â€ť Lawrence said. â€śThe teachers taught us about Godâ€™s word each and every day.
During the ceremony, SCS principal Randy Witbeck recognized graduating senior Rebecca Sepaugh as a Distinguished Christian High School Student as named by the Association of Christian Schools International. The students and audience also watched a tribute video featuring pictures of the students through the years.
â€śSome of them have been here since they were about at my knee, and now theyâ€™re up here,â€ť Witbeck said.