Good evening everyone. This is my seventh year as part of the Habersham community. Over those seven years, much has changed. Changes have been made in our curriculum. Teachers have come and gone. New students have enrolled and others have left (although, I believe that some of my fellow classmates were among the first students here). Many things have changed in our school’s ten year existence with the exception of one thing: its Christian roots. It is these roots that helped me grow and mature as an individual.
Some of you may remember what I was like when I first came to Habersham in sixth grade: immature, emotional, needlessly arrogant, and obnoxiously perfectionistic. Right before I started my education here, I remember hearing the maxim “formation over information”, and by formation, I mean the formation of one’s character, as opposed to intellectual aptitude. I immediately thought that this was absurd, since I thought that school was purely for the improvement of one’s academic ability, as opposed to the growth of character. I thought I had everything figured out and that I did not need anyone other than myself to teach me how to be a better person. My goal was simply to ace all my classes and to be the best. I was so wrong.
Through our theology classes, I realized the true importance of being a steadfast follower of Christ. Before then, I took such things to be abstract concepts that, while true, did not have much relevance in my daily life. Furthermore, my mentors and my classmates humbled me every single day, helping me realize my imperfections and to take responsibility for them. In the end, this only improved my character and guided me to think about what is metaphysically right and true, as opposed to just what I can perceive, such as mathematical proofs. In this sense, The Habersham School is an embodiment of Philippians 4:8, which states “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” I know that I have continued to go on about how The Habersham School has improved me, however, I would like to now share some advice.
All my life, I have prided myself on my hard work, and would not be satisfied, until I had completed my task to the best of my ability. Even then, at times, I would not be satisfied and would think that I was failing God and myself if my work was not good enough. Don’t put your works before God to try to make Him love you more, there is nothing you can do to make Him love you more or love you less. Rather, do your works to honor the Lord. This sounds easy to do, I mean, after all, our mere existence should shed light on an omnipotent Creator. For me, and probably for some of you, this has been the hardest obstacle to overcome in the lifelong journey of moral development. I realized that this was ultimately based on my pride, for I was trying to build myself upon what God provided, but not on God alone.
In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis describes pride as the worst of all vices, since “it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice”. Not many are willing to accept this and simply try to dismiss it as something mild, especially in our culture, where everyone is trying to outdo each other. I still struggle with this pride. I still try to work hard, so I can be better than others. Call me a hypocrite, but I am calling you to live more humbly than I live. Take heed of my mistakes, my shortcomings, and you will live well. This goes for my classmates as well.
We are about to embark on a grand journey, leaving our childhood behind. New opportunities await us. We are all going to do great things, I am sure of it. We are all going to college or technical school, where we will feel the euphoria and/or dread of our newfound freedom. Do not let this cloud your judgment. I did the same thing in logic and rhetoric school, and trust me, it did absolutely nothing to help me. In fact, it exhausted me and burned me out, making me perform even worse. I do not want the same for you. So, whether you graduate from college, drop out, or learn a trade, keep this in mind: do not let your emotions steer you off course from where you are trying to go, because if you let them, you are less likely to reach your destination.
I would not have accomplished nearly as much if you were not a part of my life. You have made me feel truly welcome. I never had any siblings that I was close to, but you have certainly more than made up for it and have developed me as an individual like a brother or sister would. You lauded my accomplishments, comforted me in hard times, and rebuked me for my wrongs. No one could ask for a better group than the one that I have here at Habersham. I do not think that I will be so fortunate in this regard as I have been here.
As we go our own ways in this world, I simply suggest that you continue being yourselves, for in doing so, you will help others aspire to become better, just as you have done for me.
I hope you have a great evening. God bless.