“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces; I would still plant my apple tree.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
This was the graduation theme for the Rockway Graduating Class of 2017 which took place on Saturday, June 24, 2017. Sixty-seven graduates walked the stage and received their Ontario Secondary School Diploma. Of those, 36 also received the Rockway Diploma, an additional honor based on Religious Studies credits earned and additional Community Service committed.
Johnny Wideman, playwright, actor, short-story author and Artistic Director of Theater of the Beat gave a passionate Graduation Address entitled, “What good’s an apple tree?” Wideman framed his address around the Beatniks, the graduating class of the fifties, who were “culture shapers.” He recounted that “these individuals were seeing the “real world” for the first time – they still had hope at a time when the end was so seriously nigh, because their perspective was fresh.” With energy and enthusiasm, Wideman challenged the class of 2017 to be the Beatniks of today – “to bring the fresh perspective we need today, bring hope, try things, be who you are, fail, learn, listen, then try again!” He encouraged them to take comfort in the words of Galatians 6:9 which reads – “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Wideman concluded his address by charging the graduates to “have the audacity to plant apple trees in whatever ways come natural to you. Because it’s possible that “The true meaning of life, is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” (Nelson Henderson)
Rockway Graduations are one of my most favorite events of the year. They are a beautiful mix of formality and celebration. The Graduation Service twins together the acknowledgement of an academic achievement, couched in worship, and the Graduation Banquet allows for more of a celebration of the overall Rockway experience, including a formal induction into the Rockway Alumni.
The Rockway Graduating Class of 2017 is a diverse group of young adults, who will embark on university, college, gap years including victory laps, working and travelling. In addition to completing their academic studies, many of them made valuable and vital contributions to the Rockway community for which we are grateful!
On behalf of Rockway’s Board of Directors, Faculty and Staff, I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to all the graduates! It is our hope that as their experience here of “Forming Faith and Building Character” will platform them successfully as they embark on new challenges and opportunities!
Ann L. Schultz