DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) – Kids in Danville returned to the classroom today, and a pastor wanted to send them back with some encouragement. He hosted a community-wide prayer service Friday night with a special message from some familiar faces.

Pastor Thomas Miller wanted to show students that anything is possible, so he put together a video of Danville graduates sharing their paths to success.

“Even though you’re in high school and you might not think it’s a big deal, but if you focus, then it’s possible for you to be very successful,” Miller said.

That’s the message pastor he wants to send to every Danville student as they head back to school.

“And pray for America, that children will be safe this year,” he said.

He also wants kids to know the sky is the limit.

“There’s not a dream too big that you cannot dream,” he said.

He invited families and school officials to pray together, hoping to inspire them with heartfelt words from people who were once in their shoes and went on to become professional athletes, musicians, medical experts and more.

Superintendent Dr. Alicia Geddis said the Danville graduates were happy to be a part of it.

“Many of our students are doing very well. That message doesn’t often get out. They wanted to do a video and reach back out to staff to say, ‘hey, we’re doing okay,'” Geddis said.

She said this school year is already off to a good start.

“There was a certain kind-of calm and peace just to be together,” she said.

She said the past few years have been difficult, and that’s why the gathering was so special.

“Our children really did suffer during the pandemic. So we just really wanted to come together, have a word of prayer, make sure we prepare them for the school year.”

Dr. Geddis said about 10% of Danville High School’s last graduating class walked away with full rides to college. And that spreading the word is important.