Trinity Lutheran High School may have only one hallway, but in the last four years, the class of 2017 has grown to love and appreciate it.
Together, in that hallway, they have discovered who they are as students, athletes, friends and Christians and they have prepared for the future.
So with smiles, tears, laughs, handshakes, hugs and pats on the back, they gathered together one last time in Trinity’s one hallway Saturday morning to say goodbye to their teachers, their school and to each other.
With 42 graduates, it was Trinity’s largest graduating class in the school’s history.
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Salutatorians Abigail Anderson and Grant Hackman welcomed those in attendance and Pastor Jeffrey Stuckwisch of Zion Lutheran Church, Pastor Craig Muhlbach of St. John’s Lutheran Church (Sauers) and Pastor Martin Keller of St. Paul Lutheran Church (Wegan) gave the graduation message.
In addressing the audience, co-valedictorian Sam Marskberry said it never mattered that other schools had bigger or better sports teams, or that they had auditoriums and more than one hallway.
“Turns out that hallway has united us in many ways over the years,” he said. “And just as we have one hallway, we have one faith together in Christ.”
It is their faith that always comes first and why they decided to attend Trinity to begin with, he added.
Marksberry compared his classmates to teammates and said being at Trinity has been like having the “home-court advantage.”
“Just as a team that plays at home, we have had the familiarity, support from the fans and beneficial calls from the officials,” he said. “These advantages are directly related to our student lives at Trinity.”
But whatever the future holds, they will be able to defend their title as Christians with the knowledge and lessons they’ve learned the last four years, he added.
“Our training has prepared us to be able to defend our faith in all situations,” he said.
Graduating from Trinity, Marksberry said he and his classmates are held to a high standard of service and leadership.
“As Christians, our role is to serve others,” he said. “We’ve been taught that the meaning of life is to graciously serve others since Christ died for us.”
Through servant leadership days, student government and student ambassadors, the Class of 2017 participated in more than 1,000 hours of volunteer service, he added.
Marksberry said now it is time to show the world what being a graduate of Trinity Lutheran means.
“It has prepared us to leave home and play our own game somewhere else,” he said. “And most of all, it has shaped who we have become and how we will serve the world.”
Co-valedictorian Hailley Peters said being a student at a small school has never put her or her classmates at a disadvantage.
“Trinity Lutheran High School has not hidden us from reality or sheltered us from society — it has instead prepared, or trained, us in the light of Christ to go out into the world and not only be successful citizens, but also Christian leaders, role models and servants,” she said. “We’re ready to travel, to play on bigger courts and different venues.”
But that doesn’t mean the new playing field won’t be intimidating and scary at times.
“That newness can catch us off guard,” she said. “Whether your away court is college, the work field or the Army — taking an important step in life requires patience, endurance and hard work. And those are just a few of the underlying concepts Trinity has taught us.”
Peters said the next step won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
“Yes, our next phase in life will be difficult; yes, it will not be what we are used to or what we expect; yes, it will require courage and determination,” she said. “And yes, we are ready. It’s these experiences at Trinity, the knowledge we gained, and the faith that’s been strengthened, that have shaped us into the people we are today, and prepared us for the people we will become tomorrow.”