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Commencement celebrates milestones for seniors, alumni and the college.

Distinguished Alumni Award recipient James Haveman addresses the Class of 2000.
Distinguished Alumni Award recipient James Haveman addresses the Class of 2000.

Calvin College held its annual Commencement ceremony on May 20 in the Fieldhouse. More than 850 Calvin seniors took part in the ceremony, the 80th such conferring of four-year degrees in Calvin's 125-year history. Calvin awarded its first bachelor's degrees in 1921 to a senior class of eight men. This year's class, the class of 2000, included about 500 women and 350 men.

The 2000 Commencement speaker was Dr. Alvin Plantinga, a renowned Christian philosopher who is a professor at Notre Dame, a former Calvin professor and a 1954 graduate of Calvin. In his address, entitled "Our Vision," Plantinga delivered a quick primer on the Reformed perspective and how he found it a much more correct way to view the world that the competing views of relativism and naturalism.

The Commencement ceremony was also marked by the presentation of Calvin's highest alumni honor-the Distinguished Alumni Award-to James Haveman, Jr. '66 and Elmer Yazzie '76.

Havemen is director of the Michigan Department of Community Health. He manages almost 6,000 employees and a budget of $8.2 billion. He oversees a roster of areas that impact virtually every resident of the state every day-issues such as public health, mental health, substance abuse programs, medical services and Medicaid, services to the aging, drug control and crime victims services.

At graduation, Haveman, of Grand Rapids, encouraged seniors to be politically active. Government is a difficult but necessary occupation, he said.

Yazzie has been a teacher at Rehoboth Christian School in Rehoboth, N.M., for 25 years. He is a reservation-born Native American who teaches at a school where many cultures come together. Beyond that he is an award-winning artist who incorporates his heritage and his deep Christian faith into his work.

He donned a western hat at the Commencement ceremony and told of how God had used one of his paintings to further his kingdom. He challenged the graduates to let God use them in the same way.

Members of the graduating class of 1950, dressed in traditional graduation robes, were honored at the ceremony and these congratulatory words appeared in the program, "Our generation has and continues to dream dreams of the past as well as the future. We trust that yours will see new vision, seeking ever to find the constants that will guide you until you too arrive where you will dream dreams."

Ken Zylstra, student senate president, also addressed his peers for the last time.

The presentation of diplomas included the reading of each individual's name.

Finally, the reading of the liturgy included a prayer of the graduates, which reflects the mission of Calvin College:

As you multiplied loaves and fishes across a crowded hillside,
So multiply our talents and desires across our span of years.
May our learning blossom into wisdom,
Our knowledge of your world into passion for your world,
Our ambition for achievement into love of peace and justice.

--Lynn Bolt Rosendale


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