Bethlehem Graduation Essays 2024

Bethlehem cares for students

Camden Adams

Walking into high school as a freshman, I was an extremely anxious person. I tried keeping my head down, blending in, and faking my personality to make friends, but the community and comforting atmosphere of Bethlehem High School threw that all away. It was startling and uncomfortable at first, but in only a few years, it has become home. I have never felt like I was lost here.

My classmates and I are soon to graduate, about to face new paths, embark on more journeys, and make new stories. However, the care Bethlehem has given us will be a chapter none of us will soon forget. I can say with confidence that Bethlehem goes above and beyond for every single student who walks through its halls. Mine and my classmates’ high school experience will be foreign to many, beginning high school in 2020. Unlike many schools, we were able to learn in-person together every day. We had four class periods a day and left at 1 p.m., but each of us were still able to come to school, connect, and have some sense of normalcy. This is one of the first ways that I saw Bethlehem go further for its students — like a star, shining brightly, guiding each of us and filling us with perseverance.

Another way that I have witnessed Bethlehem take care of its students is through the many events and activities planned by faculty and staff, such as our yearly class retreats. They are always impactful and appreciated each year, but senior retreat is truly above and beyond. In November, my class and I went on a weekend-long retreat at Gasper River Retreat Center where we were able to grow both earthly and spiritually. We had many awesome experiences throughout the retreat as a whole class, but the time with our small groups was the true highlight of my retreat story. In these groups, we shared our struggles and frustrations, which brought us closer to one another. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that would not have been possible without the faculty, staff, and campus ministry program at Bethlehem. 

As we quickly approach graduation, I believe that each and every one of us in the class of 2024 is ready to leave the nest and soar. All of us are prepared in so many ways, whether we are heading to college, the workforce, or on another adventure. Not only has Bethlehem prepared us academically for our next destination, but we were also given so many social pushes through things like Battle of the Classes. A favorite tradition, each class comes together for bragging rights over the other classes (it’s the most fought-for victory every single year.) We have also been afforded “real life” experiences through Star Term, where we were able to pick and learn about a specific topic or trade that we probably wouldn’t have gotten to learn about otherwise. There is something for everyone at Bethlehem, no matter their interests or strengths–everyone can find their place at Bethlehem High School.

I love Bethlehem and every experience I have had connected to it, and I encourage anyone thinking about it for their high school choice to seriously consider it. I am better off because of it, from the learning opportunities, the people, and the experiences. Because of Bethlehem High School, I am prepared for literally anything. Thank you, Bethlehem!

Bethlehem provides opportunities to grow

Ellie Nicole Smith 

High School is a time for change, and this can look different for everyone. For some, this change is how you look, the friends you have, the music you listen to, or the person you are as a whole. Coming into high school, I was shy, terrified of the unknown, and my biggest fear was rejection. 

On August 19, 2020, I was anxiously sitting in my seat in Coach Cooper’s class. I was surrounded by people who I barely knew, and some that I didn’t know at all. I did not know what was going to come next. Fast forward to today. Sitting in Mr. Bradley’s class, I have expanded my horizons, become confident in myself and my abilities, gotten involved in school athletics and clubs, and have a family within my peers. Bethlehem changed my life for the better and prepared me to walk across the stage on May 19, 2024. 

Throughout the past four years, the class of 2024 has grown into the young adults that we once hoped to be. We were once the small, immature, baby-faced freshmen who would sit in the same classroom all day. Due to Covid-19, we became connected with the same 15 students that were in our class, and what was outside that door was not our issue. 

Now, our class of 59 seniors has embraced the meaning behind the Bethlehem family. This family goes well beyond our graduating class. It includes the underclassmen that we have taken under our wing, making sure they know to not wish the time away. When I was a freshman, I had two upperclassmen who made me feel welcome and accepted, and I have strived to be able to do that for other students here at Bethlehem.

One of my favorite Bethlehem traditions is the Welcome Supper. During this event, the freshmen and seniors get to bond through games and dinner. I remember my freshmen Welcome Supper, I was a part of the blue team, and we won that year. I struggled to get involved as I was too scared of embarrassment or failure, but the upperclassmen never failed to make sure I knew that it was okay to let loose. I had a senior, who was then a stranger to me, ask me to be her partner for the three-legged race. That feeling of inclusion then made me realize that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. 

As I watched the competitions at my senior year Welcome Supper, and noticed all the freshmen hesitantly joining in, I got a glimpse of what I must’ve looked like my freshman year and how much I have changed for the better. I realize I am no longer the intimidated freshman but am flourishing into the confident young adult I have always aspired to be. It was at that moment I knew Bethlehem had prepared me for this moment, and I was ready for the next steps life would bring me.

Every year our class attended a retreat, but the most special was senior retreat. The class of 2024 gathered for three days to bond, to pray, and to accept God’s love. It was while on this retreat that I realized I was surrounded by people who cared about me and my successes. I changed my perspective from being a shy, stand-alone freshman, but an ambitious, involved senior. This experience allowed me to make new friendships and heal old ones, because I now know that this upcoming change is going to be scary, much like the first day of high school. Having someone to lean on makes this change less scary. 

When you walk through the doors of Bethlehem, you will be given every opportunity to grow and exceed all your aspirations. Here at Bethlehem, you will find family, and a home away from home. As the class of 2024 is about to turn the tassel and start a new journey, we will always remember those who helped us get there, the Bethlehem Family. May 19, 2024, will start a new journey for all of us here, but I know that in whatever I strive to be or do, Bethlehem has prepared us for this moment, and will always be here to cheer us on. 

As I am saying goodbye to the teachers and classmates that have made me who I am today, it’s hard not to find it all a little bittersweet. Thank you, Bethlehem High School, for not only making me the person I am today, but for being a family I know I can always count on. 

Once a Banshee, always a Banshee.

The Record
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