Saturday was a day for rejoicing and having faith in what the future had yet to hold.

The 15 members of New Life Christian School’s Class of 2017 walked across the stage, received their diplomas and thanked their parents for the countless hours and dollars they had spent getting them there.

It was a tearful goodbye for some students, who had fostered close friendships in the intimate school setting. The interdenominational pre-kindergarten through grade 12 school generally hosts a total of 190 to 250 students.

“This is a very unique class,” said Head Master Jason Burrell. “Very small.”

While smaller in physical numbers, the group still left its mark at the school and internationally. The class traveled to Guatemala this school year to serve food and help at a hospital.

The students channeled the deeper meaning of the school’s mascot, the rams, during the trip by being Righteous And Mighty Servants, Burrell said.

“We take the servants part to heart,” Burrell said.

While in Guatemala, the students handed out food to families and gave stuffed animals to children in the local hospital, said graduating senior Kaitlyn Christoff. The trip was the highlight of her year.

“I’m just so much more appreciative for what I have: my family and definitely my health,” Christoff said.

Christoff will be attending Shenandoah University in Virginia and studying exercise science with a minor in dance. She joined the New Life Christian School in seventh grade, and graduation day was both exciting and a little sad, she said.

“I loved it,” Christoff said. “It was super fun. I’m going to miss them.”

The young men of the Class of 2017 gave the whole school a lasting memory earlier in the school year during a lip sync battle that included a blonde wig.

Ronald Socash III donned the wig to bless the school with his rendition of Frances “Baby” Houseman from “Dirty Dancing” for a medley of “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” and “Breaking Free” from “High School Musical.”

Socash graduated as salutatorian, President’s Education Award recipient and Sons of the American Revolution’s Sgt. Lawrence Everhart Chapter of Frederick County Outstanding Citizen on Saturday. He plans to attend Frederick Community College for two years and to ultimately attend the police academy and become an officer.

The Class of 2017 is New Life Christian School’s 25th graduating class. Valedictorian Emaline Printz carried on a family legacy by giving the farewell address.

Her mother is a member of the Class of 1995 and her sister, Lydia, was Valedictorian for the Class of 2014.

“I’ve been working for this since the beginning,” Printz said. While there was some additional pressure to follow in her sister’s footsteps, she felt personally motivated to finish top in her class, she said.

Printz plans to start a degree in psychology and a minor in art or management at Frederick Community College and later transfer to an out-of-state school. Her goal is to become a therapist and work with veterans.

Graduation is also a time for the school to reflect on the lives of the students who came before each new graduating class.

The school recognizes one senior with the Jordan Chrobot Memorial Award each year in honor of Jordan Chrobot, a graduate of the Class of 2003 who died serving with the Marines in Afghanistan in 2009. The award is given to a student who exemplifies leadership and dependability.

This year’s recipient was Kyle Borg, who will attend Grand Canyon University to study sports management.

The school also awarded the Elizabeth Catoe Memorial Award for the first time to honor Elizabeth Catoe, a member of the Class of 2014 who died July 31, 2016, in a car accident.

“She was an ambassador for Christ,” Burrell said, and the award is designed for a senior who is enthusiastic about academics and friendship, encourages others and has a passion for Christ. This year’s recipient was Erin Horner.

The Class of 2017 gathered on the soccer field after the ceremony to follow in the steps of their predecessors and throw their hats into the air.

As the lives of the group prepared to diverge in 15 directions, Printz summarized the moment aptly, “You can’t move on until you graduate, and you can’t hold back either because graduation is inevitable.”

Follow Samantha Hogan on Twitter: @SAHogan.

Samantha Hogan is the state house, environment, agriculture and energy reporter for The Frederick News-Post.

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