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Harvest Baptist School celebrates 25th graduating class

One student is the child of 1996 and 1999 graduates

-Submitted photo
The Rev. Marvin Smith III poses with his granddaughter, Andrea Schnittjer, during the July 5 graduation ceremony for Harvest Baptist School.

Seven graduating high school seniors walked across the stage of Harvest Baptist School on July 5 on a special night as the Fort Dodge school also celebrated its 25th graduation.

The Rev. Marvin E. Smith III and his family moved to Fort Dodge in 1993 to start Harvest Baptist Church and started Harvest Baptist School in 1995. The school’s administrative assistant, Jamie Schnittjer, a 1999 graduate of HBHS, and Smith’s daughter, spoke along with her husband, Shane, who was the first graduate of HBHS in 1996. All of the HBHS alumni present were recognized.

“Sometimes when I think back on my dad starting this school, I think he did it for Marvin (Jamie’s brother) and me,” Schnittjer said. “But then I am reminded about all of the students that have walked these halls who were given the opportunity to be in a Christian environment. It wasn’t just for my brother and me, but it was for a 17-year-old boy (Shane) whose school had just closed, and it was for a family who moved half way across America for the church, knowing there was a Christian school for their kids.”

The school also had its first graduate who is a child of a graduate. This was Andrea Schnittjer, Shane and Jamie’s daughter.

The seniors, dressed in their maroon caps and gowns, received their diplomas. Early in the ceremony, Valedictorian Caleb Westall gave a speech highlighting his favorite memories from high school and thanking everyone who had invested in him. Toward the end of his speech, he challenged his fellow graduates to live life so that people see “Only Jesus” in them.

-Submitted photo
Caleb Westall, the valedictorian of the Harvest Baptist School Class of 2020, speaks during the graduation ceremony.

“Tonight, our class is on the mountaintop — graduated, finally,” he said. “I stand before you as the valedictorian of the 2020 graduating class of Harvest Baptist High School. But here’s the thought, is that what really matters in life? Being at the top of my class, the best? No it’s not. What does matter is when people see me, they see Christ living through me.”

He later said, “When I get to the end of my life, if all I was remembered for was being the valedictorian of my graduating class, but I wasn’t remembered as someone who had Christ living through me, then I’ve completely wasted my life.

He then finished his speech with the simple question “When people see you, what do they see?”

Later in the ceremony, Principal Bobby Buchanan talked about how proud he was of the seniors for finishing strong through the COVID pandemic.

“This year was so different; it was challenging. These seniors had to make a lot of sacrifices at the end of this school year … but they did it; they finished, and I’m proud of every one of them,” he said. “I love you seniors. I’m proud of you. Thanks for finishing. Thanks for the good times we’ve had this year.”

-Submitted photo
Members of the Harvest Baptist School Class of 2020 sing together during the recent graduation ceremony.

He then went on to encourage the seniors to live for the Lord and to never forget what they had learned while in the school.

A video was then played of pictures of the graduates’ childhoods and high school life as well as a prerecorded speech from each of the seniors, including the salutatorian, Elisabeth “Lizzie” Morlan.

The ceremony was then finished with a charge from Smith.

“God has an expected, providential purpose for your life,” he said. “God has a huge plan for you. God has a divine destiny for you … and it’s yours for the taking.”

He went on to say, “Men do not define who you are; it’s your walk with God that takes you to the place of divine purpose and destiny. If you walk with God, you will find yourself at the divine destiny with Him.”

The class included Westall, Morlan, Marco Bautista, Grace Guenther, Megan Hovland, Adam Landolt, and Andrea Schnittjer.

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