With a combination of humor and humility, Cumberland Christian School Salutatorian Brianna Taylor Paulus, of Pittsgrove Township, told guests and classmates at the graduation Friday night that wisdom, the theme of her speech, did not come easily to her.

"I worked extremely hard in everything I did, always pushing myself to do my best," Paulus said in a copy of her speech provided to The Press of Atlantic City. "God has blessed each of us in different ways, and in turn we must use our gifts to glorify him. Every test, quiz and homework assignment has been worth it. My hard-earned grades have placed me where I am today."

She joked a bit that the salutatorian is the person who missed being valedictorian by a few grade points, and speculated that if she hadn't taken physics, she might be giving the valedictorian speech.

Paulus said she sees wisdom in each member of the class.

"They have all experienced different situations and have taken different life lessons out of them, just as I have," she said. "As we go out into the world we must not forget what we learned here. We must learn to make smart decisions and be disciples for Christ."

Valedictorian Joshua Timothy Dubois, of Buena, said in his speech that wisdom is difficult to define, and obtain and maintain.

"As we move on with our lives, it is important for us to distinguish between what is Godly wisdom and what is worldly flattery," he said.

He cited Ecclesiastes 10:1 in saying that one bad decision can ruin your reputation of being wise and honorable.

"We must keep this in mind as we make everyday decisions," he said. "Each and every choice can have either a positive or negative result."

Dubois ended by saying he prayed that the class will always have the courage to make wise God-honoring decisions.

"I challenge you to sacrifice self for the sake of Godly wisdom," he said.

Other featured graduates were Sarah Lauren Haig, of Bridgeton, honored for Christian character and service to God; Christian athlete Precious Monique Bryant, of Clayton; and Christopher E. Fitting, of Vineland, Christian example socially and Christian athlete.

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