Berean Christian Academy holds first home graduation

Saturday, May 6, 2017
Salutatorian Shelby Jack, left, and valedictorian Taylor Keeling read their joint graduation speech. Murray Bishoff/

Class of nine has first students completing all 13 years at school

Graduation season for area high schools got underway Thursdays night with ceremonies at the Berean Christian Academy in Monett.

This was a special occasion for the school. It was the first time graduation had been held on campus, in the gym completed in 2016. Those attending parked cars all over the grounds and back to Highway 60 the length of the driveway. It was also the first time that students who began at the school as kindergarteners when it opened graduated as high school seniors.

Shelby Jack shared a flower and a hug with her sister,, Krischa Forste, at right, as graduation ceremonies at the Berean Christian Academy drew to a close. Murray Bishoff/

The graduating class of nine offered comments on their experience at the Christian school through observations read by the valedictorian and salutatorian, Taylor Keeling and Shelby Jack, who gave their address together. The graduates’ comments frequently referred to family sacrifices needed to make attending a parochial school possible. The top grads also spoke at length about the role models their teachers, family members and friends had been for them. Shelby Jack specifically referred ti the “wise women, prayer warriors and tear catchers” who had provided support.

Kelley Johnson, the school’s first administrator who first proposed having a Christian school in the Monett area, a current resident of Arkansas, provided the keynote address. Johnson registered surprise that he had been drawn to the Bible verse Second Timothy 4:7, where the apostle Paul speaks of “fighting the good fight” and “finishing the race,” only to learn the seniors had chosen that as their class verse.

Johnson recounted how the idea of the school took shape in 2003, how he presented it to area pastors that fall, and had several volunteer to join the undertaking.

The Berean graduates turned their tassels to signify the completion of graduation. Murray Bishoff/

“As I stand before you, I see evidence of a fight that has been a good fight,” Johnson said. “It’s still a good fight.”

Johnson challenged the graduates to not take a break from their faith and their struggle.

“You will never go wrong in living out your faith in Jesus every day,” Johnson said. “This is the best fight worth fighting every day.”

The Berean Christian Academy graduates throw their mortar board hats into the air and raise their arms in joy over completing high school. Murray Bishoff/

After the presentation of diplomas, the graduates turned to face a capacity crowd and turned the tassels on their mortar board hats. A distribution of flowers followed while photos were displayed of the graduates for a young age to the present. After tossing their hats into the air, the graduates left for a reception at the Monett City Park Casino.