graduation students on stage

Keynote speaker Dwayne Walton encourages Lancaster Mennonite School seniors to ‘challenge the status quo’ after graduating

    Story by Olivia Estright of LNP, June 4, 2022

In his prayer to the Lancaster Mennonite School Class of 2022, Director of Advancement Jonathan Heinly said that when the seniors processed across the stage, they did so in hopes of entering the world seeking “love, justice, equity and peace, above all odds.”

The 87-member class graduated Saturday during Lancaster Mennonite’s 80th commencement ceremony at the High Fine Arts Center on the school’s East Lampeter Township campus.

Principal Michael Badriaki made opening remarks, expressing how the students have evolved into “creative and innovative learners” through the Lancaster Mennonite mission.

“Our mission is carried by a community,” Badriaki said. “That’s who we are here.”

Badriaki said students should continue striving “to be world changers through Christ’s love.”

Seniors Aidan Grambau, Giftii Aga, Seunga Park, Sara Garces and Arsema Wurwur presented their graduation Bible verse. They read them, as Heinly said, in “their native tongues,” which included Japanese, Korean, German and Spanish.

The class verse was Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Heinly shared a prayer with the class, telling them to “seek truth boldly and love deeply.”

Though Lancaster Mennonite School does not name a valedictorian and salutatorian, the school recognized class President Allison LePrell, Vice President Rebecca Lane, Treasurer Amy Haile and Secretary Sara Garces.

Dwayne Walton, executive director of Parkesburg Point Youth Center, delivered the commencement address to the Class of 2022.

“They usually want it short and sweet, but I’m a Black preacher,” Walton said, joking as to why he’s never served as a commencement speaker.

Walton described the various temptations the students may face after graduation, from the encouragement of “self-centeredness” to “betraying morals” to accomplish goals.

“We live in a society that’s pushing the idea of self-centeredness,” Walton said. “We’re afraid because no generation has been so focused on self.”

To continue persevering through life’s “tumultuous times,” Walton called on the students to “challenge the status quo.”

“Early in your life, you’ve experienced the fragility of life,” Walton said. “That shouldn’t be the case until later on.”

Walton warned against “lies” prevailing through social media

“We end up believing those lies,” Walton said. “The world wants to tell you what greatness looks like, and that’s my fear for you.”

Rather than motivating students to “reach for the stars,” Walton told them their “potential” lies within themselves.

After the audience stood to sing the class-chosen hymn “Be Thou My Vision,” the graduates exited the auditorium to the front lawn for Lancaster Mennonite’s “circle of celebration hat toss.”

Badriaki left the students with some final words of advice for their next journey.

“You’re going to need faith.”


Enjoy the photos of our recent Commencement Activities celebrating our graduating seniors. We are so proud of you Class of 2022!