God was at the center of the graduation ceremonies for Augusta Christian Schools' class of 2002 Saturday as students, faculty and the featured speaker gave the Almighty thanks for his gifts and encouraged everyone to go through life relying on his faithfulness.
The graduation was held in a crowded West Acres Baptist Church on Gibbs Road.
The Rev. Alvin Jones, who gave the commencement address, told the 54 graduates that God "will be with you wherever you go. ... He will be right there beside you."
He said they must not rely on what they have learned in school or the gifts God has given them or their life experiences but must rely only on God. "When you fail, He will never fail," Jones said.
Jones, who is the pastor of Christ Community Church and executive director of Augusta Rescue Mission, told the graduates that they will have stresses, trials and temptations in their lives.
"Be strong and courageous," he said.
He recommended that they meditate on the word of God and that will bring prosperity and courage.
Jones, whose son Alvin Jones III was in the ACS graduating class, said his wife often told her son to be careful when he would leave home but Jones said that was not his advice. He said he told his son to be a risk taker to try to accomplish the great things God has chosen him to do.
He said a strong prayer life will give the grace to "live the life God has called you to live."
His final comment to the graduates was, "Worry about nothing. Pray about everything."
Corrie Navarro, the valedictorian of the class, said that graduation "is the end of a long road, sometimes full of obstacles and difficulties."
But the road also contained fun and was sometimes easy, Navarro said.
"High school may be over, but life is not," she said.
She said it was time for the graduates to "go out into the world and carry what we learned here, carry the light of Jesus."
Navarro said she was sure the ACS class of 2002 was destined for greatness. "This is your time. Make it count. ... I know this class can change the world. ... Strive to be the person God wants you to be. Let him complete the good works he has begun in you," she said.
Leigh Anne Beaudreau, the salutatorian, encouraged her classmates not to reduce their efforts as a result of graduation. "To slacken the pace before the goal is reached is to lose the race," she said.
She exhorted her classmates not to "leave the enemies of God unchallenged."
She warned that the world has many enticements. "We are far too easily pleased," she said.
Beaudreau said the graduates should continue to pray. "Let us seek God and win the race," she said.
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