MANSFIELD — The auditorium at New Covenant Academy was filled with people this past Friday. Along the side wall — four on each side — stood tables decorated to reflect the interests, hobbies and personality of each graduate. One is a hunter, another enjoys barrel racing. Many had baskets of candy and albums filled with photos taken at the school.

The private school kicked off the graduation season with a tight-knit, family-oriented graduation ceremony for the eight graduates: Brooke Binford, Chloe Bird, Hannah Colegrove, Nathan Harris, Dawn Howard, Simeon Kyler, Anna Reagan and Jennifer Zhou.

It was a night of humor as Jennifer Zhou related how she was taught to count in English, “One, two, tree,” which prompted her enrollment in the school. There were emotions as Anna Reagan broke into tears as Dawn Howard described how friendless she felt until Anna’s arrival. Then Anna confessed that was the second time she had cried that night.

Graduates were exhorted to learn to stand on their own merits and not tear down others by speaker Roger Maurais, a social studies/Bible teacher who is retiring after 19 years.

He urged the class avoid over-thinking; some things don’t require much thought. Maurais said to place their trust in God in anticipation of difficult times.

“You know there will be storms in your life. The best thing to do is trust in God before the storm arrives,” he said.

The world will tell you to “think for yourself and reject the values and morals you were raised by,” Maurais continued. Don’t do it; instead, keep your faith especially in the next few years as graduates prepare for the rest of their lives.

He urged graduates to not postpone answering God’s call because of school, work, finding a spouse, raising a family or other things. If you do, you’ll miss out on the blessing of fulfilling that calling, he said.

“Major in God, minor in all other things and you will do well,” he said.

Anna Reagan was the valedictorian with a 3.84 grade point average; Hannah Colegrove earned salutatorian status with a 3.75 GPA.

Nathan Harris and Anna Reagan received American Citizenship awards. Simeon Kyler received a scholarship from the Hillside Rod & Gun Club. Anna Reagan received a $7,500 Every Scholarship administered by Citizens & Northern Bank.

Three seniors performed special music before the ceremony: Hannah Colegrove, Nathan Harris and Chloe Bird. Certificates and medallions for being named to the honor and high honor rolls were presented.