Calvary Christian Academy Hosts “Drive-In” Senior Graduation

(L-R) Calvary Christian Academy’s High School Principal Aaron Mills, Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale’s Lead Pastor Doug Sauder, Calvary Christian Academy’s Head of School Dr. Jason Rachels, and Calvary Christian Academy’s Director of Discipleship Steve Mayo listen to Zachary Webb deliver his salutatorian address to Calvary Christian Academy’s graduating Class of 2020, who listened from their vehicles parked facing the stage.

Calvary Christian Academy (CCA) seniors drove to school one last time the evening of Friday, May 22 for a “drive-in” graduation experience that marked the end of their high school journey. Each senior student had the opportunity to walk across an outdoor stage and have their moment of recognition while maintaining social distancing protocol.

The Class of 2020 and their closest family members and friends parked their cars on a large grass field to experience the live ceremony. To hear and see the program, they tuned into an FM frequency on their car radios and turned their heads toward the large screens on each side of the stage.

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CCA seniors were parked closer to the stage. When it was their turn to walk across it for the conferral of diplomas, they were chauffeured to the stage, exited their vehicle, walked across the stage when their name was called, had their picture taken, and re-entered their vehicle to return back to their parking spot.

“We wanted to give our seniors the most authentic, safe, and memorable graduation experience possible considering the circumstances,” said CCA’s Head of School, Dr. Jason Rachels. “This is an exceptional class that deserved an exceptional send-off.”

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CCA’s Class of 2020 was accepted to more than 50 colleges and universities throughout the country, earned more than $2 million in scholarships, completed more than 41,000 community service hours, and included three National Merit Finalists, four Miami Herald Silver Knight nominees, 21 AP Scholars, 12 committed collegiate athletes, four international students, as well as one United States Air Force Academy Cadet. The valedictorian and salutatorian had the opportunity to address their peers in person from the stage’s podium.

“I didn’t think I’d be able to share my speech from a live stage with everything going on,” said Kaitlyn Tully, CCA’s Class of 2020 valedictorian. “I was so surprised and excited when I found out that I would be able to experience a memory I was really looking forward to having.”

The formal ceremony was followed by a car parade recessional. As the graduates and invited guests exited the school’s property honking the horns of their decorated vehicles, their faces beamed with joy.

“There was no shortage of excitement and your traditional pomp and circumstance at this commencement ceremony,” said Aaron Mills, CCA’s high school principal. “The creativity and collaboration of our dedicated faculty and staff at CCA and our parent church, Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, made all of the event logistics a successful reality. We’re delighted to have received such positive feedback from our graduates and their families. They not only felt loved, but also sensed God’s presence throughout the event. We ultimately thank Him for giving us great weather and allowing this in-person graduation experience to happen. It will be one for the history books, that’s for sure,” Mills said.

Event plans were designed in accordance with City of Fort Lauderdale social distancing guidelines.

Calvary Christian Academy is a Pre-K–12th grade Christian school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida that partners with parents to nurture a child’s mind and soul. At CCA, children grow spiritually, academically, and socially in a rich learning environment devoted to excellence in academics, athletics, arts, science, technology, and leadership.

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