Last August, on the first day of classes at Archway Academy for the 2014-15 school year, I wrote a post called “Grace in Addiction.” Archway Academy, as I described it in that previous reflection, is a high school that’s located on the campus of Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church and was “established in 2003 by concerned parents and adolescent addiction recovery experts who recognized the need for a school that was dedicated to supporting teens in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse or dependency.” Its commencement took place last night in the church, which, as you can see in this photo, was already packed 30 minutes before the ceremony began.
This is Archway Academy’s Executive Director, Sasha McLean, as she announces the name of the student who received the Greg Hambrick Leadership Award.
Incense isn’t the only thing that rises into the air at this church. Graduation caps are tossed high too. Both the incense and those caps, however, represent the prayers of many people. These brand new graduates of Archway Academy might never know just how many. Last night I prayed for them, too, at the invocation.
The words of this prayer, which I offered at the beginning of this commencement, were slightly modified from a blessing in Prayers from the Heart: The Sacred Heart University Prayer Book (Fairfield: Sacred Heart University Press, 2002):
God of wisdom, bless these students who will walk out the doors of this church tonight as graduates of Archway Academy — students whose hearts you have fashioned for beauty and grace. Bless those who love them and those who have guided them to this holy time and place and to this holy community that has created a learning environment for adolescents in recovery. Call these students to discovery, to seek their truest self, to fall in love with wisdom and claim her as their wealth. Send them forth in knowledge, with your teachings and the teachings they have received on this campus as their guide. Watch over them, protect them, and walk always by their side. Amen.