Students standing at Graduation

Story by LUCY ALBRIGHT of LNP, June 1, 2024

Lancaster Mennonite High School’s graduation speaker quoted T.S. Eliot, Taylor Swift and the Old Testament and urged the 60 graduating students to stay true to their values.

After he was introduced by superintendent Michael I. Badriaki, neuropsychologist Dr. Freeman Chakara spoke about Daniel in the Bible. Daniel was intentional about clarifying what things in his life were nonnegotiable, Chakara said. “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not disobey God or defile himself,” Chakara said, quoting Daniel 1.

Chakara warned graduates that their own values and nonnegotiables will be tested as they progress into their professional or academic lives.His recommendation: Write a letter to your future self describing who you are and who you want to be. In times of challenge, return to the letter.

After graduates in black caps and gowns walked to the stage to music played by the LMH Concert Band, Badriaki began the ceremony at the East Lampeter Township school with a prayer. Graduating senior Ian F. Kennett introduced classmates who would read Matthew 5:1-12 verses in Chinese, Korean, Arabic, Kurdish, Spanish and Amharic.

Read by Nathan Chen, Yiqiao Liang, Chaemin Kang, Hevin Salah Khilo, Delmaris Nuñez, Rarta Belay Shewangizaw and Abigiya Samuel Wondwossen, Kennett said the verses were in some of the languages that represent the senior class.

Badriaki then introduced guest speaker Chakara, the founder of Providence Behavioral Health in Manheim Township. Chakara, who grew up in Zimbabwe, opened by saying that if he’d known students would be reading verses in different languages, he would have spoken some Xhosa or Zulu.During his speech, Chakara spoke about the word “commencement,” which he said means the start of something. He noted that though we sometimes want to stop time and enjoy the moment, time keeps propelling us forward.

Chakara read from the poem “East Coker” by T.S. Eliot, then read from “Never Grow Up” by Taylor Swift. “Take pictures in your mind of your childhood room,” he said, quoting Swift, “memorize what it sounded like when your dad gets home.”

Principal Kirk R. Benner presented Lancaster Mennonite High School’s 82nd class and congratulated them on their accomplishments and a job well done. “It is my pleasure to present the class of 2024, as they have met the academic requirements,” Benner said, as loud cheers from the audience began to drown him out. When Benner was able to continue, he instructed students to turn the tassels on their caps from right to left.

Led by class President Delmaris Nunez and vice president Tessa Armstrong, students lined up to receive their diplomas, then a yellow rose. Janet Simms, grandmother of graduate Jadyn Taylor, led a prayer onstage. “Thank you for how you have blessed them so far,” Simms said. “We pray that they go forth and be world changers.”


Enjoy these photos of our recent Graduation events celebrating our senior class. We are so proud of you, Class of 2024!