by Jennifer Connor, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reposted by permission from The Reporter
In a commencement ceremony that emphasized the three main pillars of Christopher Dock Mennonite High School’s mission, the school graduated 84 students in the Class of 2013 Saturday night. Christopher Dock “seeks to ignite passion for learning, faith and life,” according to its website and demonstrated so in this year’s ceremony.
Senior Class President Tyler Denlinger launched the ceremony by delivering the welcome address, thanking those who have walked alongside the graduates throughout their schooling journey. Later in the ceremony, Denlinger, who also graduated summa cum laude and received the Paul R. Clemens Bible Award, received the Christopher Dock Award as the male student who demonstrates all-around campus citizenship, leadership and scholarship during high school. Marissa Joy Souder was the female recipient.
Among the 84 graduates were exchange students. Prior to the ceremony, Bogusia Stone who has hosted Dohee Kim, a student from South Korea, for the past three years excitedly anticipated the ceremony, proudly waving her “parent ticket.”
“I even have a mom ticket!” Stone said. Dohee, who received the Charles Clemmer Art award for excellence in the subject of art, will attend the Savannah College of Art and Design in the fall.
Hometown principal of graduating seniors and exchange students Camilo Hurtado and Daniel David Ramirez Zea was even in attendance, visiting all the way from the students’ home country of Columbia.
Midway through the ceremony, engaged students watched an energetic and passionate speech delivered by Andrew Huth, a documentary photographer and youth pastor at Ambler Mennonite Church. Huth was adopted at the age of nine from South Korea and emphasized how the change from having nothing to having everything influenced his life path.
Huth began his speech by turning the podium away from the audience of parents, teachers, family and friends — and instead faced it towards the students on stage.
The students gave Huth their full attention as he described the development of his career, focusing on the two biggest criticisms he ever received and how they influenced him to change his focus.
The first criticism came from a local newspaper photography editor shortly after Huth decided he wanted to be a newspaper photographer. When Huth asked the editor to share his biggest critique the editor said the photography showed that Huth was afraid to engage people since many of his photos were taken from a distance or behind.
“I then began to approach my assignments by not taking any photographs until I was sitting, eating and talking with my subjects,” Huth said. “If you want the good stuff, you can’t get that at a distance.”
His second biggest criticism came from the vice president of the Associated Press and Director of Photography in an interview in Manhattan. Huth sat nervously as the vice president viewed his portfolio silently and then prompted him to give his biggest critique.
The vice president said he had many great single images but he wanted to see more and be told a story with the pictures. In that moment, Huth decided he wanted to become a documentary photographer.
His speech, entitled, “Don’t Dream of Greatness,” emphasized that one must live and breathe the greatness they aspire to possess. He encouraged students to look at their causes and those they want to help not as projects but rather as partners.
“Dreaming is such a dangerous thing – you’re so close to the real thing but it’s not quite there,” Huth said. “Everyone thinks of changing the world but never themselves. Don’t dream of greatness but do and become greatness.”
Huth’s message seemed to fit in well with the Class of 2013’s Bible verse that class vice president Elizabeth Curis shared. From Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord your God is with thee.”