Patriot grads celebrate big day

The Southwest Covenant Christian School graduates of 2019 celebrate their step toward college or the workplace last Thursday after receiving their diplomas. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer

Members of Southwest Covenant School’s Class of 2019 are “conquerors through Christ” who already know how to overcome obstacles through the many challenges they’ve faced, the audience was told at the school’s annual graduation ceremony.

The Patriots’ 18-member graduating class have had to conquer physical challenges, illnesses, heartaches, brokenness, failures, tragedies, fear and loss.

“They’ve faced a lot of unique, individual challenges,” Headmaster Steve Lessman said. “In the midst of these battles lost, they impact great victory.”

Lessman, in his sixth year as Southwest Covenant’s headmaster, praised the Class of 2019 after presenting their diplomas during the May 23 graduation inside the Covenant Community Church sanctuary, 2250 S Yukon Parkway.

“We have confidence in you,” Lessman said. “We are proud of you. We have seen you grow into the outstanding young men and women you are.”

The headmaster referred to the Battle of Bunker Hill, fought between colonial and British troops in June 1775 during the Siege of Boston (Mass.) in the early stages of the American Revolutionary War.

“The patriots lost that battle,” Lessman noted. “But in that loss, came victory through the confidence, the encouragement and the challenge to move forward in the battle for liberty and freedom.

“As was the case with Bunker Hill, (where) the victory came afterward, I know that in each challenge you face in your lives, victory will follow.”

Lessman reminded the Patriot graduates the same God that has carried them through the challenges they’ve faced so far will help them overcome future obstacles.

“You guys are overcomers; you’re more than conquerors through Christ,” Lessman said. “As you go from here, great things await.

“God will help you through the challenges and through the great things ahead. We are so excited that, as you rely on God’s help, you will do great things in and through your life. And we are so, so very proud of you.”


The real impact that Southwest Covenant’s Class of 2019 had wasn’t the success they enjoyed in the classroom and on the athletic field.

It is that Southwest Covenant’s underclassmen and elementary students know they truly care about them.

“You have genuinely loved and cared for younger students,” Headmaster Lessman told the new Patriot grads. “And you’ve been great leaders in that regard.

“As you go out with the mission of influencing this world for Christ, I charge you to never stop caring for those you’re seeking to influence. You can go out with all the right answers, but if you don’t have love and care – and as 1 Peter 3:15 says, gentleness and respect for others – it won’t make a difference. As you continue to love and care for others, your influence will only grow.”

The impact that members of the Class of 2019 had was uniquely powerful.

“You have connected with younger students in ways I don’t think we’ve seen before,” Lessman said. “Those serving in after-school care, teachers’ aides, mentoring through some of our mentoring programs, cheer camps, other sports and activities – you all have made an impact on students behind you.”

In his closing prayer, the headmaster – on behalf of the school faculty – thanked the Lord for the privilege to educate and equip the new graduates. He prayed that this class will be a “great influence on this world.”

Southwest Covenant Class of 2019 valedictorians were Jesse Deason and P.J. Riggs. Riggs, also the 2019 class president, made a presentation to 2020 Class President Luke Arnould.
2019 Class Bible verse was Ephesians 4:1-3 and 2020 Class Bible verse is Hebrews 12:1.
Salutatorians were Jantzen Griswold, Ainsley Roark, Anna Lessman, and Cristian Tadlock.


These members of Southwest Covenant’s Class of 2019 were awarded scholarships:

Grace Bailey: Academic Excellence Scholarship – Oklahoma State University.

Christian Brown: Freshman Tuition Scholarship – Oklahoma City Community College, Academic Achievement Award – University of Oklahoma, Heritage Merit Scholarship – Wichita State University, and Dean’s Scholarship – Oklahoma Christian University.

Andrew Cox: School of Music Scholarship – University of Oklahoma.

Jesse Deason: Internship Scholarship for Degree in Construction Management – Crosslands Construction, Foundation Scholarship – Shelter Insurance and Academic Excellence Scholarship – Oklahoma State University.

Mark Ellison: Trustees Academic Award – John Brown University and Next Step Scholarship – Canadian Valley Technology Center.

Autumn Ford: Provost Scholarship, Canyon Christian Consortium Scholarship and Priority Registration – Grand Canyon University; and Jack and Donna Hough Scholarship – Southwest Covenant School.

Jantzen Griswold: Loy and Marian Morris Scholarship and Award of Excellence – University of Oklahoma; Scholars Society Scholarship, President’s Leadership Council Scholarship and Regents Distinguished Scholarship – Oklahoma State University, Provost Scholarship, Canyon Christian Consortium Scholarship and Priority Registration – Grand Canyon University; Pepperdine Scholarship – Pepperdine University; Baptist Ministry Scholarship, President’s Gold Scholarship, Achievement Gold Scholarship, Baylor Scholarship, Invitation to Excellence Scholarship, and Lead Scholarship – Baylor University; Weokie Scholarship – Weokie Foundation; and Oklahoma Elks Major Project Scholarship.

Brandon Leppke: Academic Achievement Award – University of Oklahoma and Academic Excellence Scholarship – Oklahoma State University.

Anna Lessman: President’s Community Scholars Award – University of Oklahoma and Don White Memorial Scholarship – Southwest Covenant School.

P.J. Riggs: Distinguished Scholar Award – University of Oklahoma, Regents Distinguished Scholarship and Hunter Stone Endowed Scholarship – Oklahoma State University; Science Scholar Award, Trustees Scholarship and Nazarene Scholarship – Southern Nazarene University; Academic Scholarship – Olivet Nazarene University; and File Completion Award, Excellence in Engineering and Trustees Scholarship – John Brown University.

Cole Shaw: Dean’s Scholarship – Colorado State University, Presidential Scholarship – Texas Tech University, Freshman Honors Scholarship – University of Central Oklahoma, and Jim Murphy Memorial Scholarship – Oklahoma Rural Water Foundation.

Logan Shields: Academic Excellence Scholarship and Paul and Ruth Jonas Scholarship – Oklahoma State University.

Cristian Tadlock: Southwestern Scholarship – Southwestern Oklahoma State University, and Dean’s Scholarship – Oklahoma Christian University.

The Southwest Covenant seniors were awarded scholarships totaling $979,532. Accepted total was $358,832.