8th Grade Graduation, 2019

Each year we invite a young alum to speak to our Middle School students during our Middle School Honors Day on the last day of school.  This year we asked Bella Mancini from the class of 2017 to be our speaker.  Bella attended Plumstead Christian School all four years of Upper School and is now a student at Houghton College.  She is pictured in the middle of the photo surrounded by a few of our rising ninth graders.

“Good morning everyone, my name is Bella Mancini and I graduated from Plumstead in 2017. I’m here today to speak to the 8th grade class, and I wanted to congratulate all of you on this big accomplishment. Although I came to Plumstead my freshman year, I do remember what it felt  like to finally be done. Middle school is no easy task, and I alongside your family and teachers are so proud of you all.

In this brief time I have with you this morning, I wanted to share with you three things that I believe God has blessed each of you with, and how they can be used to further his kingdom during this next stage of your lives. The three things are: an understanding mind, strength in youthfulness and a receiving heart.

First, an understanding mind. As you have already experienced, training your minds is a very important part of growing academically. It took me a long time to to realize that having an understanding mind is something that God values deeply. Even looking over scripture for this speech, I was reminded of how many implications it truly has. I want to look at 1 Kings 3:9- in this passage, Solomon is becoming king and tells God that he feels like a child compared to all these wise and knowledgeable people around him. Solomon says, “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who

is able to judge your great people?” I love this verse because it shows us exactly why God is growing you towards an understanding mind. Solomon didn’t ask for wisdom so he could be deemed ‘worthy’ amongst his peers. Rather God grants Solomon wisdom for the purpose of leading His people well. This means that the things you are going to grow to learn and love are gifted to you to help lead by example to your friends, family, peers, or whoever God places in your path.

The second thing is strength in youthfulness. I’ll be honest with you, there are going to be a lot of times when things seem overwhelming – whether it’s exams in your toughest classes, a hard sports practice, difficulties with friends – all these things can pile up and leave you exhausted. So, when these times come, how can you tap into the strength that is spoken of so highly in scripture? Isaiah 40:31 gives a beautiful picture of what strength is like. It reads, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” So, the renewing of strength doesn’t just come through a quick nap or willpower to “make it through the day”. True strength is found by hoping in the Lord. Letting your hope be rooted in Christ will strengthen your soul to succeed in all those difficult times. I like to think of it as a cycle, hoping in the Lord produces strength, and strength leads to accomplishing what’s on your plate, and finally accomplishment is paired with praise to God, which then strengthens your hope and the cycle starts again.

The last gift is a receiving heart. Sometimes it doesn’t always feel like our hearts are ready to receive what God is telling us, or we aren’t sure what we are actually being told. One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 3:13, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” This point is especially important because it enables us to be built up for the purpose of pouring out. The idea of being hardened by sin’s deceitfulness can take on many different forms for many situations. How I like to think of it is temporarily losing sight of what you are being called to do. This is something that isn’t limited to high school – getting off track or having a bad day is a part of life. However, each of you are in a position where you have the chance to help others keep their focus on who God called them to be. You can do this by encouraging each other. This verse stresses the importance of what a kind word can really mean to someone and how it should be a part of your daily interactions.

If you were thinking ahead, you might have noticed the similarity to Luke 10:27, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Maybe a way of loving God with all your heart and soul is by encouraging your neighbor. Maybe loving God with all your strength is having your hope in him. And lastly, maybe loving God with all your mind means leading his people with understanding.

Of course these examples are not the only ways to show love to God and others. However I do think they are beautiful avenues to show the gifts that God has planted in each of you to further His kingdom. I am so excited to see where the Lord will take you and grow you, especially during these next four years. Thank you.”


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