NORTHUMBERLAND — The special speaker for the Northumberland Christian School Class of 2019 commencement ceremony on Thursday night encouraged the students to follow in the steps of Jesus.

Pastor Josh Gibson, of Emmanuel Bible Fellowship Church in Sunbury, spoke to the 11 members of the 42nd graduating class of the faith-based private school in Northumberland. This graduating class has nine students who started in kindergarten and is the first graduating class who spent all 13 years in the school's current location at 351 Fifth St.

"As you're on the threshold of adulthood, you're not being pushed off on your own," said Gibson. "You've got the support of family and friends who have rooted for you along the way, your faculty and your staff. You have your God that will never leave you, never forsake you."

Go forward, he said, with Jesus as "the treasure of your heart."

Every member of the class — valedictorian Peggy Ulmer, salutatorian Gwyneth Hudson, Madeline Clark, Emily Crago, Kristen Derr, Kiersten Reese, Derek Schoeppner, Amanda Severn, Caroline Strouse, Jessica Strouse and Collin York — were given time to reflect on their experiences and thank their family and supporters. The ceremony also featured several speakers.

Hudson encouraged her fellow graduates not to waste time in the waiting parts of life that bring comfort and relaxation.

"The thing about comfort is that it's not realistic in our human life," she said. "Every now and then, we need time to rest, but as a spiritual being made to honor and glorify God, relaxation and comfort should not be our goal.

As her high school career drew to a close, she said she waited anxiously for many things.

"I caught my self waiting for graduation and for college in the fall," she said. "It has reminded me to never take for granted the day that I'm living right now."

Clark said she didn't believe people who said she would miss high school, but now she realizes that she will miss the small moments.

"The little memories along the way are more than just stepping stones to the big memories," she said. "They are what you're going to miss most."

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