WATERVILLE — After four years at Temple Academy, the close-knit 13-member class of 2014 hugged, reminisced and said goodbye to one another at their graduation ceremony Sunday night.

“We were overall really close. It’s going to be different,” said one of the salutatorians, Sierra Towers, of Belgrade, between being congratulated after the ceremony.

The graduates were presented with their diplomas on stage at Temple Academy to the cheers of a crowd of family and friends.

At the small, intimate ceremony, faculty members recognized the students individually for their achievements during high school. A combined video and slideshow of childhood photos of each graduate was shown. Before they received their diplomas, Head of School Denise LaFountain read each student’s interests, achievements, hobbies, favorite Bible verse and final words to their classmates and teachers. Steven Claybrook was recognized as the valedictorian, and Towers and Chantelle Mason were recognized as tying for salutatorian.

Craig Riportella, pastor and superintendent of the Waterville Christian school, said it has been a privilege to observe the students as they learned and grew over their years at the school.

He said that while they embark on life after graduation, the graduates should think about what kind of legacy they leave behind. He said that historical figures such as Adolf Hitler and Mother Theresa all left behind a legacy, but their respective legacies differed greatly.

The graduates, he said, should strive to leave a legacy sharing the Christian message with the world.

“Like many people, you probably want to impact people with your life,” he said. “So why not choose to leave a legacy that counts for eternity?”

Valedictorian Steven Claybrook told students that they should expect challenges after high school.

“As anyone with life experience can confirm, it only gets harder from here,” he said.

He urged students to look to God for guidance and direction in their lives after graduation.

“When you’re at the altar, everything is black and white. When you try to leave, it’s already becoming gray,” he said.

Bob Constable, commencement speaker and longtime substitute teacher at the school, said the diplomas the students would be handed would not guarantee them a job or success. He said how the graduates use what they learned in school is entirely up to them, and he urged them to apply it.

“Try to be who you really are, because life is short,” he said.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]

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