For Dale Lempa, watching this year’s crop of four seniors graduate Thursday from Community Christian School just north of Baraboo will be an exercise in mixed emotions.
“Some of the students we’ve had with us for many years, and it’s always bittersweet to see them turn this new page in their educational experience,” the administrator for the private Christian school said. “Others have been with us just a short time, but we’re just as excited and glad to see them making this milestone and moving on.”
McKenna Abbott, Adeline Considine, Grace Gunderson and Sam Plautz will receive their high school diplomas during a roughly hourlong ceremony starting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Walnut Hill Bible Church in Baraboo.
Plautz has attended CCS since sixth grade, the longest of the bunch. Only one of his fellow seniors has been there throughout high school.
“With a smaller class, you get to know each other more and it feels more like family,” Plautz said.
But how it will feel to leave that family hasn’t quite sunk in for Plautz, who noted the reality of his impending graduation only started to feel real at his friends’ commencement two weeks ago.
“It just kind of hit me — like, this is about to be over; I’m about to graduate in two weeks,” he said.
He plans to attend Boyce College, a Christian school in Louisville, Kentucky, where he’ll study to become a pastor, focusing his degree on apologetics.
Considine, who started at CCS just this year, said she wants to pursue baking, starting with a two-year degree at Madison Area Technical College.
She grew up on a dairy farm about 30 minutes from Baraboo, where she was home-schooled until her father landed a teaching position at the school tucked into the countryside off of Highway T. Considine said she had some reservations about coming to CCS, “but God had a plan.”
“I didn’t want to go, but I knew deep down inside that I really did like the education environment and stuff. Whenever I’d walk into the school, I’d think, ‘Oh, this is cool; I should go here,’” she said.
Now Considine’s father will be able to present her with a diploma as one of the faculty members participating in commencement Thursday. Each of the school’s four high school teachers, including Tom Considine, will speak about one of the students.
The Class of 2019 will be the school’s fourth graduating class since it added a high school to its academic offerings.
Lempa noted this class’ success at the state forensics competition, where both Considine and Plautz took home awards this year. In his third trip to state, Plautz earned gold in the prose category for reading “The Sniper” by Liam O’Flaherty. Considine, in forensics for the first time this year, earned silver for giving a demonstration speech on how to make pie crust.
All four graduates had to write and present a 10- to 15-page senior thesis in front of a faculty panel recently, taking questions on their research, an effort that Plautz said he was proud of being able to accomplish. Lempa said the school sees the thesis project as a “capstone experience” for students.
According to the graduation program, Abbott plans to join the workforce after high school to save money before making additional plans. Gunderson has not decided what she wants to do after graduating.
“I wish them well,” Lempa said.