In a little over a week, students and alumni from Calvin, Northpointe, and South Christian High Schools will join together to celebrate friendships between students at all levels of ability at the annual, student-run Connections Banquet.
As South Christian High School Inclusion Specialist and leader of the Connections Banquet Ellie VanKeulen pointed out, “Our purpose is to provide a memorable evening for individuals with special needs and their friends, an evening of fun, a celebration of each participants’ gifts, and full inclusion as children of God’s Kingdom!”
Our friend Tim, an alumni of South Christian, is an enthusiastic fan of the banquet.
“I like to go out to eat and attend a banquet just like my other friends do. About 15 years ago a South Christian group started doing a banquet to let us have a fancy party like everybody else – our own kind of banquet. I have gone every year since it started. Let me tell you one thing for sure: I wouldn’t miss it for any reason.”
And Tim isn’t the only one that doesn’t want to miss out. Since its inception, the Connections Banquet has grown from 60 participants from one high school to 240 from three schools. It’s become so popular, this year we had to move to a larger venue! Praise God! All of the participants enjoy spending the evening with their friends. Tim recalled some of his favorite parts of the banquet:
It gives me a chance to get out with others and have fun. After all what’s not to like – there are lots of cool things:
- Awesome decorations
- A FREE picture of me with friends – Yes! It’s free!
- Fun games
- Really cool entertainment
- WOW – Lots of pretty girls
- Spectacular food – NOT McDonalds
This upcoming evening will be a beautiful display of positive Christian community. And when the plates are empty, the dance floor diminished, and the camera memory is full, the banquet won’t be complete until everyone joins together and sings “Friends are Friends Forever”. As the Michael W. Smith song says:
“Friends are friends forever
If the Lord’s the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
‘Cause the welcome will not end
Though it’s hard to let you go
In the Father’s hands we know
That a lifetime’s not too long
To live as friends”
Though everyone parts ways at the end of the evening, each person goes home reminded of how deeply they are loved by their community and their God.
Katie Barkley is the marketing communications manager at CLC Network.