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Graduation, June 6, 1999

Immanuel Lutheran School Mankato, Minnesota

At the graduation service at Immanuel, Mankato (2:30 p.m., Sunday, June 6th) seventeen 8th graders and eleven 12th graders were recognized for successfully completing the required courses. Five “sibling sets” (surnames Hagen, Stelter, Hanel, Johnson, Nolting) were among them. High School graduates were Andrew Hagen, Rachel Hanel, April Johnson, Todd Kruse, Justin Mueller, Kristen Nolting, Beth Olmanson, Andrew Pfeiffer, Brandon Rabenhorst, Nathan Stelter, and Heather Underdahl. High School Principal Kevin Hulke and 7th & 8th grade Administrator Leif Olmanson distributed the diplomas.

Other years (132 of them!) these closing exercises were in the church proper. This year the congregation’s comfortable air-conditioned multi-purpose facility, with makeshift stage, served well as the site.

Pastor Wayne Eichstadt led the liturgical portion of the service and delivered a message on the basis of King Solomon’s words in Proverbs 4:10-13. “Hold On!” the speaker encouraged the young people, comparing life to a roller coaster, but not the up’s and down’s in this case. Rather, graduation time, he said, is like the eight anxious and exciting seconds of “hang time” at the very top of the coaster–before you plummet over the edge and you’re on your way! It’s crucial, then, to “hold on” — to your firm instruction in the Gospel, to your balanced education, to your family, to your school as active alumni.

Grade school and high school choirs lent their voices wonderfully in song. The backdrop for their stage were other fitting words of encouragement by King Solomon (first spoken at the dedication of the temple): “May the LORD our God be with us, as He was with our fathers. May He not leave us nor forsake us” (1 Kgs. 8:57).

Indeed, He won’t — only “hold on!” for the ride, dear young people.

–Pastor Paul Fleischer