I could almost read their minds:  “Will someone have something to say about me?” “Have I made an impact this year?”  “Does somebody know me?”

Yesterday was the start of the end-of-year festivities, beginning with Baccalaureate service at the Oakdale Free Methodist Church, followed by dinner which included the first of our meals when we celebrate the individuals in each of the grades.  Yesterday dinner was the meal when we highlighted the junior high.

After a few of the students had their “spotlight” moment, I could see it start on the faces of students — a look that betrayed their anticipation and maybe even anxiety.  A when a student’s name was called, you could see this look of wondering what was about to be said. “What did they write to say about me?”  “Do they know me as a unique and special person?”  And then it was time to watch their expressions change as they heard these words bathe them in appreciation not for what they did and accomplished this year, but for who they are and how they uniquely added to the personality and community of Oakdale during the 2015-16 school year.

I could see that other staff were experience the same thing as I was… we were on cloud nine, and the week was just getting started!  Good thing we aren’t afraid of heights!

If yesterday lunch wasn’t enough, then we had Senior Vespers last night, the annual event when seniors have an opportunity to share about what being at Oakdale has meant in their lives and when they share lessons learned with the other students.

Here are a few quotes from last night:

From an international student who was not a Christian before coming to Oakdale:

Oakdale gives you a good foundation and Christian environment, but when you walk out of Oakdale, there are challenges and things you have to deal with.”  He thanked the staff for giving him a spiritual foundation.

Another student shared about the spiritual impact of attending Oakdale:

When I came to Oakdale, I came for a better education.  I didn’t think I would come for Christianity.  Oakdale has taught me to understand the Bible and I have grown in my faith here.”

One student reflected on how attending Oakdale impacted her:

“Academically and especially spiritually, Oakdale has prepared me for life.”  She continued, “God’s character is seen through the staff.  No matter how much I messed up, they have accepted me.”

Oakdale has shown me kindness… and has taught me to be kind to others,” was part of one student’s time of sharing.

One student who has been with Oakdale for four years summed up her remarks with “Oakdale has a way of sucking you in and changing your life and bringing you to Christ.”

A student who has been here for all six years shared her appreciation to the staff:

To the staff, I think what you do here is very amazing.”

Senior Vespers is one of the feel-good moments of the year, and there were many tears as students thanked individual staff members with things like, “Mrs. _____, you have been like a mom to me.”

It was another cloud nine experience for everyone there.  You just can’t be afraid of heights around here!