Calvary Lutheran High School closed its 14th academic year with a graduation and praise service Saturday morning.
Nearly 200 gathered in the high school gym to celebrate and thank God for the achievements of the 37 graduates.
Rev. Michael Diener officiated the ceremony. A humble ambiance filled the room as many scriptures were read and the choir and crowd sang hymns.
Graduates expressed feeling nervous and excited about leaving the high school, which was more like a family.
"I'm really going to miss most of them," Andrea Stanford said. "Going to big high schools, you can glance over all the people you meet. Here at Calvary it's really a family. All the people I've met I really know them, and I'm going to miss them."
This theme was echoed during the two valedictorian speeches from Emma Homfeldt and Abigail Lieb.
"One thing I feel our society lacks today is a sense of gratitude," Homfeldt said.
She chose to express her thankfulness by calling each of her classmates by name and stating the unique lessons she learned from them.
Those things she will recall the most, including being true, open, adaptive, calm and vocal.
As Lieb spoke about the overlapping memories they all shared, her mother and an English and practical arts instructor, Trina, fought back tears. Her two youngest children will continue as students next year.
The sermon from the Rev. Eric Gledhill, of Faith Lutheran Church, enforced individuality and unity in Christ to the graduates.
The group was asked to choose a color from a box of 64 crayons that had a built-in sharpener. Gledhill used the crayons as an analogy of diversity and the sharpener to represent Christ.
"Just like that color crayon in your hands, graduates, you are unique," he said.
He said the remaining 27 crayons in the box represented other people.
"Weather you leave this place to go to college, or into the workforce or even into the military, find other crayons. God created this diversity in his creation for a reason. We are meant to be in community."
After crossing the stage, with hugs and cheers, the graduates turned their tassels in unity.
English instructor William Schatte said the graduating class will be missed by all.
"They get what Calvary is about," Schatte said. "This is a class that invested themselves in leadership and service. Every program will have a hole in it with this class gone."