Matt Strozier overcomes obstacles to graduate high school
By Fred Woods
On May 16 the First Baptist Opelika Christian School held its 2015 graduation ceremony at The Well of the First Baptist Church of Opelika. It was an impressive ceremony. Matthew Steven Strozier, son of John and Tracy Strozier of Opelika, was both class salutorian and class valedictorian. In fact Matt was the Class of 2015.
First Baptist Church Opelika Christian School is the “umbrella high school” for home-schooled youngsters in the First Baptist Church membership. And yes, there was one graduating senior this year, Matt Strozier. That’s a little unusual for the school but it was nevertheless appropriate because Matt Strozier is an unusual young man. He’s a class act, as his father, in introducing the ceremony, said. Matt would be a class act regardless of the size of his graduating class.
You see, Matt Strozier has muscular dystrophy, a genetic muscular disorder he has had it since birth. He lost the ability to walk when he was about six years old. Matt gets around in a mechanized wheel chair, but, make no mistake, he does get around. You might beat him in arm wrestling but don’t try to engage him in a battle of wits unless you are loaded for bear. You just might lose then.
In case you might harbor the thought that home schoolers have it easy, Matt took Marine Biology his last semester in high school. Other subjects not usually associated with high school (at least, by me) are a Comprehensive History of the Viet Nam War and British Literature.
Don’t try to treat this high school graduate as though he is handicapped. After being in his company for a time you may think you are the one who has a handicap.
That is why Larry Treadwell, a relative and close friend of the Strozier family who’s been an inspiration to Matt and the rest of the family for many years, who gave the commencement address, never once mentioned a word about any physical handicap. He talked about the people in his life who had contributed to making him what he is today, the parents, the friends, the teachers, the acquaintances and the total strangers. Treadwell said these are the real successes in a Christian life.
He challenged Matt, and the audience, to measure their success similarly. “Listen to people, give to those who need it, help those who ask, encourage the ones who are down, be honest with those who stray and love them all while you do it. You write your name, your legacy in the soul of another human being every time you do this. No matter where life takes you, no matter what you succeed in or what you may fail in, your progress (in life) is not in things or achievements. Your [real successes] are the needs, and struggles, and hearts of the people around you.”
Matthew Steven Strozier is the kind of young man who will take this challenge. He is the Class of 2015 and he is a class act without regard to the year. Congratulations to you, Matt, and our best wishes for you.
Editor’s note: Matt Strozier is my nephew and, while I did my best to write this without regard to that, I might be a little bit prejudiced. This summer Matt is going to be doing data entry for one of First Baptist’s youth ministries while he decides what he wants to do next.