Outstanding High School Graduates Rise Above the Culture

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cantonFaced with a barrage of images on Instagram and Facebook, constant texting and Snapchat, teen icons like Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber taking center stage in the media, and hoody-clad teens spewing rap on the airwaves, this generation of youth is met with challenges like never before. In the midst of this culture, however, many teens are choosing to rise above the noise and lead others on a positive path of service to their community, moral character, academic achievement and an overall commitment to excellence. These are the hope of our future.

Outstanding Graduates

As students throughout South Florida take the graduation platform and embark on new adventures, we acknowledge their accomplishments and encourage them to stand strong as they enter the next chapter of their lives.  We realize there are many more students who are making a positive impact than those represented here, but we asked Christian high schools to tell us about two of their outstanding high school graduates. They are listed in our center spread.

Students of character also walk the halls of our public schools, standing for their faith at events like “See You at the Pole,” a day when students gather for prayer at the flagpole, in organizations such as First Priority that encourage Christian outreach to fellow students, and in student-led clubs like Project Life at Boca High School that is sending a team of students to minister to gypsy children in Croatia as well as many other service organizations.

God’s Gentleman

One of these students is Cameron Canton, a graduating senior from Fort Lauderdale High School. President of his First Priority Club, Canton is student council secretary, involved in Powerhouse Youth Ministry at Christian Life Center, has volunteered as a student mentor for a teen pregnancy prevention program, is involved in Youth Leadership Broward and is a member of the National Honor Society. When I asked his First Priority Club sponsor and the Peer Counseling Coordinator at Fort Lauderale High, James Yach, about Canton, he said, “Cameron is what I call God’s gentleman.”

He explained, “As a professing Christian Cameron stands up for his faith, and in all his actions he is respectful and honorable toward other human beings.” Describing Canton as a “well-spoken, soft-spoken young man who is slow to anger,” Yach said Canton leads by example.

At Fort Lauderdale High School Canton made a difference by coordinating mission weeks including one event in the high school auditorium last year attended by more than 200 students. “It’s our desire to use what God has given us to be missionaries on the campus and let kids know there is a God who loves them,” said Canton. “So many kids get confused in high school because of everything they are learning,” he added.

Healing Testimony

Canton said he committed his life to God at the age of 12 after a mysterious illness caused inflammation of his brain and spine that left him in a coma for 10 days. “The doctors couldn’t explain what was wrong, and as I lay in the hospital I began to contemplate my life,” said Canton. “After God was faithful to heal my body, I made a dedication to serve Christ wherever I go. My faith and strength is from Him, and I want other students to know they don’t have to be alone or to deal with depression; they can come to Him.”

Courage to Stand

Taking such a stand for faith in a culture that is antagonistic to Christianity often takes courage. Brody Howell, First Priority area advisor and family pastor at Save the Nations Church in Davie, said “Students who decide they are going to truly live for what they believe in are going to find they are in the minority.” He points to Colossians 2:8 which states, “Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ” (NLV).

“Sometimes it’s tougher for kids in Christian school when they graduate because it can be a real shock when they enter the world,” said Howell. He encourages them to find a church, join a campus Bible study and stay in the Word. “Scripture will remind you of your foundation and the moment you stop you are already losing the battle,” he said.

A Biblical World View

“As educators it’s our responsibility to infuse everything we teach with a Biblical world view, said Mike Critch, principal of Westminister Academy. “Students are faced with thousands of decisions a day, and they must put God in the middle of every one,” he said. “This culture is so much more accepting of things that were unacceptable in the past and now with social media it’s coming at them with hurricane speed. Right on their phones they can get anything from a wonderful Christian movie to pornography, and they need to know how to handle it.”

However, Critch said he is proud of those students who have “overcome mediocrity and not given into peer pressure because God is working in their lives.”

Calvary Christian Academy Principal Jason Rachels agrees that the environment we live in teaches God is irrelevant in the picture. “So much of it depends on a solid understanding of who they are in Christ and not being willing to follow the crowd.” As for this class, Rachels said, “There are some kids who really humble me because they are up late working and are out doing real ministry with a heart for others.”

Ken Lopez, headmaster of Highlands Christian Academy, said “We are proud of all our students who are making that effort and continue to try and live out these values. This is a joint effort between the home, the church and the school, and we are privileged to have that opportunity.”

For more articles by Shelly Pond, please visit goodnewsfl.org/author/shelly/


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