2018 Graduates Are Poised to Impact the Future

From left to right: Matthew Ray, Salutatorian, Calvary Christian Academy; Emily Grace Smith, Valedictorian, Boca Raton Christian School; Joshua DeAngulo, Salutatorian, Westminster Academy; Emily Greven, Valedictorian, Westminster Academy; Kneeling: Jackson Foster, Valedictorian, Calvary Christian Academy; Daniel Chong, Salutatorian, Boca Raton Christian School. Photography by Justus Martin

Graduation celebrates the completion of high school accomplishments, yet the ceremony is called “Commencement” because it represents a new beginning.  “This is not the pinnacle,” said Boca Raton Christian School Principal Stephen Smith. “There are even greater things these graduates will do because they’ve been equipped and are sent out with a purpose and a vision.”

For many, the anticipation is especially heightened for the class of 2018, which has already experienced and accomplished extraordinary things.

“When our community was rocked with the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the news became reality in our daily lives as students were all touched in some form by it. It has caused them to be resilient and overcome adversity while maintaining school responsibilities and pressing on,” noted Chris Lane, executive director of First Priority. “These graduates are fighters and realized that they have a voice in this country. They are organized, opinionated and will stand for a cause.”

Additionally, Westminster Academy Principal Michael Critch points out, “This year’s graduating class has a very diverse set of God-given gifts and talents.”

For example, the principal violinist in the honors orchestra and a key member of the nationally-ranked FIRST Robotics Team at Westminster Academy, Valedictorian Emily Greven plans to study engineering at Boston College. And Westminster Academy’s Scholar Athlete of the Year, Joshua DeAngulo, who competed in cross country, track and field and soccer, founded A Special Miracle nonprofit to support families who have children with Down syndrome. He plans to pursue a business degree at Vanderbilt University.

“We are graduating a class of athletes, performers and scholars.  A number of students will be involved in collegiate athletics, several who will be ‘making a joyful noise’ using their performing arts talents, and several students who are moving on to Top Ten colleges and universities in honors programs,” Critch added.

At Calvary Christian Academy, National Merit Scholar Matthew Ray excels in mathematics and chemistry and plans to attend Georgetown University in the fall. Valedictorian Jackson Foster is Calvary Christian Academy’s Male Scholar Athlete of the Year, relief pitcher for the Varsity Baseball Team as well as the Varsity Soccer Team captain and goalkeeper. He plans to attend University of Alabama to study biochemistry with pre-law counseling.

“This particular class is just very competitive all the way around, and I think there is somewhat of that in our society where they are competitive,” said Boca Raton Christian School Principal Stephen Smith. “Nobody really wants to lose and it’s not just in athletics. It’s academically. It’s in fine arts. And this class particularly for us just typifies that – very high GPAs and driven that way. Even spiritually it’s driven them and that’s been encouraging to see.”

Boca Raton Christian School’s Daniel Chong is a national merit scholar, was cast as Prince Charming in the school’s spring musical “Cinderella,” serves on the worship team and has gone on several mission trips. He plans to study computer science at University of Florida. Boca Raton Christian School Valedictorian Emily Smith is an accomplished student athlete and will be joining the Nyack College Lady Warriors Soccer Team on academic, athletic and service scholarships to study nursing.

As these graduates embark on these new journeys, they will face many challenges.

“Every Christian graduate across our nation faces a culture on the university campus that is borderline persecution,” said Critch. “The daily headlines are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the adversity that our students will face in the classroom, in their dorms and at the student center.  I recently heard a statistic that the ratio of liberal to conservative professors on the college campus is 12:1. The majority of campus activities and organizations are focused on things ‘of this world,’ which we know to be distractions from the things of God.”

Smith agrees, “They are going to have to stand up for what they believe in,” but he emphasized he’s confident they can still do it.

“The greatest advice I could give anyone would be to give your life to Jesus and follow Him,” said Lane.  “The first few years post graduation are always challenging, and we see far too many students walk away from the Lord and get caught up in the world.  Stay close to Jesus. Stay connected to church. Grow in your personal walk with Christ. Find a community of strong believers and go through life with them.”

Critch extended his congratulations to all of the graduates, adding “You have accomplished much… God has carried you thus far and successfully placed you on the threshold of a new season in life.  He has a plan laid out for your good and His glory. Do not fear; do not be anxious or impatient. ‘Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all of these things [everything that you need] will be given to you as well’ (Romans 6:33).”

For more articles by Shelly Pond, please visit goodnewsfl.org/author/shelly/

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