MOORE — Both of Norman’s high schools came together Sunday, not for a competition of athleticism, music or academia, but rather to celebrate the graduating classes of 2014.
The baccalaureate ceremony was a Christian-based interdenominational service at First Baptist Church of Norman featuring guest speaker Abraham Wright, Fellowship of Christian Athletes director and former NFL Miami Dolphin player.
Wright’s message was about “finishing the race” and not giving up on the journey each student may start.
“You seniors have been through a lot of school,” Wright said. “You’ve been through puberty, depression, heartbreak...You’re here tonight because you decided you wanted to finish and I congratulate you for that.”
Wright recounted the story of Derek Redman who suffered a hamstring injury during his qualifying race for the Olympics. While Redman’s trainers were going to rush to his aid, he waved them off.
“He was filled with the desire to finish,” he said. “His last statement (about finishing the race with an injury) stuck with me the most. ‘I wanted to finish my race.’”
The former NFL player also talked about playing football in college in Colorado and how he became so overwhelmed he wanted to quit. He told his mom he was going to quit, but she wouldn’t let him.
“You didn’t get to where you’re at on your own,” Wright told the seniors, adding that God had placed someone special in their lives to help them whether that was a parent, grandparent, teacher or coach.
His last message to the students was about their relationship with God. He said the greatest thing they can finish in life is their relationship with God, even throughout college.
“Seventy-five percent of youth who grew up in the church do not follow Christ before they graduate,” Wright said. “You need to get your foundation secure before college and marriage.”
First Baptist Church Pastor Wade Smith concluded the ceremony with a blessing of the seniors and their families. He called up parents or grandparents to surround the soon-to-be graduates during the blessing.
“I want everyone to take a moment to stop, reflect and understand the significance of this (milestone),” Smith said.