Class of 2023 on stage

Lancaster Mennonite High School's commencement message focuses on love

Story by DANIEL MADER of LNP, June 3, 2023

As Superintendent Michael Badriaki opened Lancaster Mennonite High School’s 81st commencement, he took a moment to examine the values that are grounded in the school’s teachings.

In this school, students know that they are loved,” Badriaki said. “(That) engages them to value themselves and value others.”

Gathered in the Calvin and Janet High Fine Arts Center on the school’s East Lampeter Township campus, Lancaster Mennonite’s Class of 2023 graduated on Saturday morning in a ceremony centered on loving one another and changing the world.

In a change from last year’s commencement, Lancaster Mennonite seniors were allowed to invite as many people as they desired.

The result was a packed building, full of family and friends who sat in rows of benches as the school’s yellow-and-white colors projected on the auditorium’s walls. The seniors sat onstage, facing the audience.

A total of 76 students had their names called, signifying the end of their journey at Lancaster Mennonite.

Seniors Maggie Will, Bella Zhang, Phuong Thy Le, Darren Lee, Yordanos Getachew and Laura Rosario shared the podium to recite the Class of 2023’s verse of the year, each doing so in a different language.

The verse was Colossians 3:12, 14: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. … And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Dr. Michael Wilson, the Stated Clerk of The Presbytery of Donegal and Synod of the Trinity, delivered this year’s commencement address, titled “Changed to Change the World.”

Give your life to something beyond yourself,” Wilson said. “You can go out into this world with courage and confidence.”

The school doesn’t name a valedictorian or salutatorian; the class officers were President Ella Brandt, Vice President Laura Rosario, Treasurer Matthew Goppold and Secretary Isaac Greenleaf.

Principal Kirk Benner presented the Class of 2023 after Wilson’s speech, telling the seniors to take time this summer to reflect on their years with Lancaster Mennonite.

Thank you for investing in our school community, and for sharing your gifts, talents and leadership with our student body,” Benner told the graduates. “You are a precious, unique assortment of individuals.”

The ceremony concluded outdoors, where the graduates formed a giant circle to throw their caps simultaneously toward the sky, officially signaling a new phase in their lives.


On Friday evening, students and families gathered for a Dedication service where they heard a devotional, teacher reflections, music, and speeches from two student representatives. Caleb Metzler and Emma Wilson were selected to share a few words with their classmates. Excerpts from each of their speeches are below. 

Caleb Metzler

“Commencement tomorrow morning signifies possibly the greatest “wrapping up” of anything we have experienced thus far, and it is somber…After tomorrow, we will all be starting the next chapter of our lives, going on to do great things utilizing the tools we have learned here. While it is exciting, it is also terrifying. 

Everything is about to change, and who knows what the world might throw at us in the coming years? Despite these next months of unsettling transition, class of 2023, I challenge you to endure….But more than enduring, let us strive to embody kindness, humility, and patience, for these virtues will carry us through to the end.”

Emma Wilson

“We are complex beings and we were not created to put our heads down and get really good at just one thing like we’ve been taught to do for such a long time.

Instead, we must learn to be curious people. As we enter into the world, now, we have to let ourselves hear what else is happening around us and, if we find that it is something of interest to us, we must let that curiosity take us towards it…Embracing curiosity and creativity as core virtues will lead us to our best version of ourselves. 

And, finally, by striving to clothe ourselves in love in all that we do, we will help others to embrace their curiosity and creativity and it is in this way that we individually but, perhaps more importantly, we as a community will leave our mark on this world.”


Enjoy these photos of our recent Graduation events celebrating our senior class. We are so proud of you, Class of 2023!

Photos courtesy of Paul Jacobs Photography.


Zachariah H. Abel

Griffin Edwin Baker

Samuel S. Bell

Ella Caroline Brandt

Abby Danielle Brubaker

Ava Paige Brubaker

Ava Elizabeth Buckwalter

Mario Enrique Cedeno

Abigail J. Chapman

Zachary  Coryell

Madison Sabrina Cox

Abram F. Darby

Bernabas Belete Deme

Andrew W. Dewan

Olivia M. Eichler

Gabriel Hildreth Elser

Davin Jacob Esbenshade

Julie Alexandra Eshenauer Rivera

Julia Rose Fisher

Matthew J. Friesen

Charlize N. Ganse

Adem Gashi

Rebecca Gebremicheal

Yordanos Terche Getachew

Matthew Goppold

Isaac Jacob Greenleaf

Herani Alememayeu Haile

Oliver S. Hall

Owen Donald Horvath

Anaya Gabrielle Hubbard

Camden G. Hurst

Claire L. Hurst

Ethan Lynn Kanagy

Luke Jonathan Kauffman

Timothy Kelly

Amina Khilo

Lakota J. Kin

Broden N King

Rachel Shea Lane

Addison Ryleigh Large

Phuong Thy Le

Darren Jengmin Lee

Sarah Elizabeth Lefever

Yariliz Lopez

Jinge Ma

Qianxiang Ma

Cecilia AG Mann

Henry B. Martin

Caleb Edward Metzler

Adam A. Pobee

Dylan M. Porter

Tobias A. Reiff

Jayla Lynn Rivera

Laura Denise Rosario

Robert S. Ross IV

Thomas Rouse

Ramia K. Santos

Micah J. Sauder

David Shell

Feneti Tsehay Shiferaw

Greta Eberly Shumaker

Elliot James Sommers

Alana Stoltzfus

Cade L. Stoltzfus

Daniella Grace Stringer

Savier Mekhi Sumrall

Adam J. Sweigart

Lauren E. Thurber

Naol Tsegaye

David J. Weaver

Ellis A. Weaver-Kreider

Colin R. Wenger

Margaret Christine Will

Emma Grace Wilson

Amanda Joyce Yoder

Xiyuan  Zhang