2021 Graduates March Into The Future With Flexibility and Resolve

Pictured from left to right: Matthew Barnes, Salutatorian, Calvary Christian Academy-Fort Lauderdale; Joshua Pilote, Valedictorian, Calvary Christian Academy-Fort Lauderdale; Christian School; Audrey Lenghea, Salutatorian, Sheridan Hills Christian School; Mizanee Shanell McIntrye, Valedictorian, Calvary Christian Academy Hollywood; Jiatuo Zou, Salutatorian, Westminster Academy; Alejandro Andres Molina, Valedictorian, Westminster Academy; and Jonathan Bennett, Valedictorian, Sheridan Hills. Photo by Justus Martin. www.justusmartinphoto.com

Kudos to the Class of 2021! Having completed their senior year in the midst of a global pandemic, they will walk across the stage to receive their diplomas and step into a culture evolving at breakneck speed. This class has demonstrated “dedication, determination, flexibility and resolve. They maintained amazing attitudes, did not complain and worked hard to make this a meaningful year,” said Dr. Ron Farrar, Upper School Principal at Westminster Academy.

AS CDC Guidelines changed throughout the year, “We had to adapt to teaching students on campus and online simultaneously,” explained Christy Chipman, Upper School Principal at Sheridan Hills Christian School.

“The uniqueness of this graduating class lies within their resilience,” noted Joshua Neal, M.Ed, Calvary Christian Academy Hollywood Secondary School Principal. “They are seniors, and for the majority of their educational career have been exposed to a singular format of learning. Within this year, they had to manipulate tools and procedures that they were not very familiar with. They did so, beautifully.”

There’s no doubt “this class experienced a senior year like none before them,” said Calvary Christian Academy High School Principal Aaron Mills. “While they lost out on some social opportunities, they embraced the situation and worked to make the most of their time. The expectations for compliance asked them to step up their game in order to be at school, and they answered the call all year. They will be better in the future for having to endure the challenges of being a senior during a global pandemic. They have been tested and tried in new ways, and that will continue as the world takes steps toward a return to normalcy.”


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Graduates reflect

Joshua Pilote, Calvary Christian Academy 2021 Valedictorian, said these experiences taught him not to let let anything keep you down. “This year looked nothing like what I expected or wanted it to be, but it didn’t stop me from having a blast. The pandemic really taught me that you can enjoy anything if you try.” His advice for students is “Take things seriously moving forward, but not too seriously… Be able to laugh and joke when you miss the mark – because it will inevitably happen – but don’t let that stop you from still pursuing excellence.” Pilote plans to attend Oral Roberts University, majoring in Medical Molecular Biology, followed by medical school.

“Going through the pandemic this past year has made me realize that I’m blessed and that I shouldn’t take the things that I have for granted like my health and my family,” said Mizanee McIntyre, Calvary Christian Academy Hollywood 2021 Valedictorian. Her advice to incoming freshmen would be to start off strong in your academics and get involved so that you don’t have to worry about catching up when your senior year comes around. McIntyre plans to attend the University of Florida starting this summer as a Pharmacy Preprofessional.

Jon Bennett, Sheridan Hills Christian School 2021 Valedictorian, said, “This pandemic has taught me that life can be completely unpredictable and that we must always be prepared to step out in faith and advance God’s kingdom, even in times of great difficulty and strife.” His advice to students is “to remain grounded in their faith and to find a group of close, reliable friends with whom they can both study and goof off. Work hard, but prioritize your relationships!” Bennett plans to major in mechanical engineering at the University of Florida.

Audrey Lenghea, Sheridan Hills Christian School 2021 Salutatorian, said, “The pandemic has taught me the importance of face to face interaction in the educational world as well as with friendships… I advise those who are entering high school to manage their time well, stay organized, and have a balance of academics, athletics, arts and connections in their high school career. Most importantly, trust in the Lord with all their heart and rest in the fact that He will establish their steps.” Lenghea plans to attend Nova Southeastern University in the Dual Dental Program and pursue a doctorate in Dental Medicine.

Alejandro Molina, Westminster Academy 2021 Valedictorian, said this year has taught him the importance of being able to adapt quickly. “It has opened my eyes to the limitless applicability of swift adaptation, which I will continue to use in the future when changing environments and facing new challenges.” His advice for incoming freshmen is to take every year including freshman year serious and to supplement your high school years with rigorous classes as long as you feel like you can handle it even if it is challenging. Molina plans to attend Georgia Institute of Technology, majoring in biochemistry with a specialization in research.

Jiatuo Zou, Westminster Academy 2021 Salutatorian, described the pandemic as “merely an external influence that does not truly possess the power to define one’s actions. There are infinite ways to accomplish your goals as long as you have a heart. Be a person of integrity so you can adapt to situations of every sort.” Zou said high school should be a phase of maturing. “Students ought to approach coursework with a growth mindset and a curious heart. It is when people start to form their early values that would shape their future passions. In short, explore and delve into things you love.” He plans to attend University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana, where he will try a double major in both computer science and aerospace engineering.


Parting advice

As these graduates embark on their adult journey, Chipman noted, “They have been given a tremendous gift in Jesus Christ and all they have learned about God’s Word. My advice is to abide in Him and keep their eyes on Christ no matter what circumstance they are facing.”

Farrar agreed, “The world is ever changing. One thing remains, and we trust that their Christian focus will propel them forward as they encounter unknow challenges.”

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




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