As I thought through posting Part II, I decided to use initials and include the year of graduation with the quotes. For Caldwellians this will provide a fun little puzzle; for non-Caldwellians the dates will give you an idea how long these folks have been “out in the world.” Just FYI, the Class of 2010 turned in the most responses to my request. I’m wondering if this is a function of the fact that most of them are now graduating from college, another time for major reflection on life. The Class of 2012 was next, but I was thankful to receive at least one response from every class. I had more quotes in my original draft, but had to cut some because of time. ALL of the alumni advice was included in a booklet that we prepared for the seniors to take home. Thanks!
While you have many gifts of your own, there are others that come to you through the community of Caldwell. In a few minutes you will join an elite group–the alumni of Caldwell Academy. You are the fourteenth graduating class, and the 322nd through the 370th graduates. What kinds of things are included in this gift? I thought it best to ask the alumni, so we put together a survey to do just that.
I feel like one of those game show hosts that gets to reveal all the amazing prizes you have won, but really I’m just recounting all of the grace that God has poured out upon and through our graduates. As a parent, I was blown away by the responses I received from our alumni. I am blessed on a regular basis by what my children have been given as a part of this community. Caldwell gave my children, and Caldwell is giving you more than just an education. All of this is grace.
Caldwell alumni have traveled all over the world visiting all seven continents. A small amount of this travel has been on vacation or even honeymoons, but the majority was for mission trips and studies abroad. Caldwell alumni are very involved in ministry. They take care of children in the nursery, teach Sunday School, write Sunday School curriculum, lead Bible studies, serve in various youth and college ministries, lead small groups, and help with worship ministry. They serve in churches and para-church organizations from one coast to the other and around the world.
About fifty of our alumni are married, a good number to each other. And they’re parents. About twenty-five children have been born to Caldwell graduates so far, and several are soon to make an appearance.
Caldwell graduates hold successful jobs in education, business, engineering, ministry, medicine, research, and the military, and many are currently enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs preparing for just about every kind of career you can imagine. A few of our graduates have the hardest and most privileged job of all—they’re stay-at-home moms. I asked the alumni several questions. One question I asked in the survey was, “Why are you glad you graduated from Caldwell Academy?” Here are some of the things they said.
“…when I think about my time at Caldwell and the life I’m living today, I can’t stop thinking that it was there that I learned what Paul meant when he wrote Romans 12:15 ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.’ How did I learn this lesson at Caldwell? In observing how my teachers, leaders, and fellow students dealt with suffering, pain, and loss as well as success, excitement, and joy. There were times that this observation was very experiential, very personal–such as after my grandfather passed away, after I tore my ACL and had surgery, after we lost my sister–the Caldwell community showed up. They brought meals, they gave generous support and encouragement. My friends stuck around and provided me with much needed distractions but were available if I needed to talk. In the same way, many teachers, coaches, principals, friends, and other members of the Caldwell family celebrated with me at track meets, after excellent theater productions, in strong academic work, after basketball victories, in graduation.” -H.P.M. Class of 2005
“Middle school and high school are what they are and so, by my peers at least, I did not always feel loved or included, but I knew I could always lay claim to that place as home. It was not a place to go to when I got up in the mornings, but a place to return to. I could say with utter confidence, ‘They know me here.’ And I knew them too. The basketball games I watched senior year were the only ones I have ever cared about, because the boys on the court were the kids I’d grown up with. We had no secrets. Our heartaches were in the open. That, I think was the greatest gift I left Caldwell with: the joy of simultaneously loving and knowing other human beings.” -A. H. Class of 2010
“No other school (and I’ve been to many) has provided such a rich opportunity to think freely and learn about things through the appropriate lens of a biblical worldview.”
–J. W. Class of 2010
“I feel equipped to write at a college level…and at ease talking with professors and interacting with other authority figures.” -A.B. Class of 2012
“Having the love of Christ woven throughout the content helped teach me to allow the gospel to be represented in every aspect of my life.” –K. W. Class of 2006
“Caldwell prepared me to be a leader in my community.” –A.K. Class of 2012
I also asked how being a Caldwell graduate had impacted the lives, the college experience, and the jobs of the alumni.
“I am tutoring math this semester and I find quotes from Mrs. Church and Mrs. Roberts coming out of my mouth.” A.B. Class of 2012
“Caldwell’s training was the tool God used to steer me into His will for my life.”
–M.S.J. Class of 2008
“I see things in a “big picture” way which helps me to understand people and events better.” –S.R. Class of 2013
“Caldwell taught me to be well rounded, know how to have an intelligent conversation, and reinforced the principles my parents taught me in how to treat others.”
–J. U. Class of 2012
I had a fairly easy freshman year due to what I previously learned in Science, English, and Rhetoric classes at Caldwell.”
–L.G. Class of 2010
The question that turned out to be my favorite was “If you could speak to the Class of 2014, what would you say?” There’s no way for me to share all of the great advice the alumni sent your way, so Mrs. Williams typed it all out, Mrs. Clough and Calliope made it pretty, and you’ll find a copy on your tables in the gym. I’ll share a few.
“Be excited for the future. Remember what you have learned and use that going forward. The world has a lot to offer and Caldwell has prepared you well.”
–J.P. Class of 2012
“It’s okay to eat in the cafeteria by yourself every now and then. Call your Mama every few days. Trust me. She’ll love it and it will bring you some love and peace amongst your crazy busy days.” –A.M. Class of 2013
“Most people were not blessed with an education, community, and school like Caldwell. The longer I’m gone, the more I appreciate it.” –K.G. Class of 2010
“If you’re heading to college, sprint out of the gate academically. The momentum you can build freshman year will carry all the way through. Conversely, getting behind early will make your latter years painful; you’ll be more focused on getting the GPA up, versus looking for a job and building a network of contacts and opportunities for life after college.” –J.P. Class of 2007
“My hope is that you will love your school not for her academic, artistic, or athletic prowess, but for her ability to promote the idea of loving God and others. I hope you remember the truths taught here. I hope you remember that there IS truth. I hope you keep learning. I hope you think of others often. I hope your closest friends will be the ones in the room with you now as they were and are for me. I hope your first thought waking is one of thanksgiving and I hope your last thought before slumber is of grace. I hope you do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly. I hope you will be a Caldwell student for life.” –M.L. Class of 2010
“Take a risk for the good of someone other than yourself, and make sure that risk is so difficult that you won’t be able to accomplish it on your own. Thank your parents profusely. They have sacrificed for you and they love you. Know that you will mess up, fall short, and offend people. Repent when you sin, and ask for help and forgiveness.”
–D.R. Class of 2010