Moving Forward Together: Reflections From the Senior Class

Moving Forward Together: Reflections From the Senior Class

At GRACE, spring air is always filled with hopes, dreams, and excitement as a new graduating class prepares to leave the school community they’ve called home for many years and pursue their passions in college and beyond.

For seniors, it is a time of reflecting back on all that has been achieved and looking ahead at the opportunities that await. As the school year winds down, we caught up with several of our graduates to do just that.

While each student had a unique experience at GRACE, we noticed some common threads. Challenges were met. Faith was deepened. Strong relationships were forged. And skills that will be used for a lifetime were developed.

Building Meaningful Connections

According to Sophia Czekalski, she wouldn’t be where she is today without her teachers and mentors at GRACE.

“I was able to build connections with so many teachers at GRACE, not just academically, but also personally. Señora Welch, who has taught me for five years now, is like a second mother to me.  I know that I can come to her with any educational, goal-oriented, or personal problem.

Mrs. Bomgardner, my AP Chemistry teacher, encouraged me to stay in her class and persevere when I considered dropping it after a difficult test. I knew it would take a lot of work, and a lot more studying than other students would have to do, but in the end I was able to succeed in the class, and I can truly say that it gave me better study habits and a drive for education.”

Sophia is headed to Appalachian State University in the fall. As a Diversity Scholar, she will promote unity and diversity on campus through community service. She is also excited about the opportunities she’ll have to study abroad, thanks to her scholarship.

Reaping the Rewards of Hard Work

Sophia was in good company when it came to challenging coursework. Mitchell Haughee took on a hefty load of four AP courses while remaining active on the athletics scene.

“The experience of starting a football program challenged my leadership abilities in ways I never expected. It was a very difficult task, but it felt good after every win to see the payoff of hard work. The camaraderie of the team, coupled with the embrace of the GRACE community, gave me many memories that I am extremely thankful for.”

Though he felt stretched thin at times, Mitchell says his teachers were extremely helpful and invested in his success. He credits Mrs. Jacobs and Mrs. Vanderkin with helping him evaluate life decisions throughout his senior year. A son of two engineers, Mitchell plans to follow in his parents’ footsteps and pursue a degree in Engineering at UNC Charlotte.

Pursuing Long-Held Passions

Most graduates would agree that choosing a college is no small task. There is much that goes into such a monumental decision. Maggie Royce actually applied to 11 colleges, from Europe to the East Coast. After careful consideration, she chose Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC.

“I love so many different things about Wofford: the small class sizes, which I learned from my time at GRACE, were so important, the family feel, and all of the study abroad options.”

Maggie will be studying as a Launch Entrepreneurship Scholar and English major with a concentration in media studies. She started her personal blog in third grade, which was a catalyst for her career in writing for print publications such as Girls Life, Teen Vogue, and Seventeen Magazine.

“My dream, with the help of the Launch program, is to develop a media agency by the time I graduate from college,” she said.

Developing Leadership Skills

Felix Jarvis-Earle shares Maggie’s passion for writing and is headed to North Carolina State University to study Communications Media this fall. After spending 13 years at GRACE, he says the most rewarding part of his experience has been the care and attention the school has given to create student leaders.

“I recall when I asked Mrs. Gill if I could start a newspaper, and, more recently, working with Dr. Inman to start a Latin Club on campus. GRACE has always supported and desired to see their students grow beyond the classroom, which has not only been important for my enjoyment, but has taught me essential leadership skills needed to serve in college.”

Taking Risks to See Rewards

While many students, like Felix, began at GRACE in kindergarten, some joined the class further down the road. Cara Peterson relocated from Connecticut to North Carolina during her junior year. What seemed like a very difficult time for transition was ultimately turned to a rewarding experience. Cara says being on the worship team, playing on the varsity basketball team, getting involved in school plays, and going on a missions trip to Costa Rica has pushed her to new limits.

“I have learned who I am; that I am a leader and a risk taker. I learned that life is all about moving forward, trying new things, and being willing to put yourself in uncomfortable situations.”

Cara’s time in Costa Rica, along with time spent on other service projects at GRACE, influenced her decision to go to Gordon College in Massachusetts and pursue a major that will help her use her knowledge to educate others.

Cultivating a Servant’s Heart

A passion for helping others and making a difference in the world is seen in many of the student leaders at GRACE.

Justin Hegar has spent much of his free time tutoring and mentoring underprivileged elementary aged students through his local church. He is also the founder and director of the Benton Harbor Opportunity Scholarship, which awards a scholarship annually to a high achieving, underprivileged student planning to attend a four-year college.

Between community service, a full academic load, participating in the high school band, and playing on the varsity basketball team, Justin learned a lot about balancing multiple commitments and rising to meet challenges.

“At GRACE, the investment Coach D has made in my life through basketball has impacted my character development the most. He facilitated growth in my faith, my compassion for others, and my leadership abilities while also making me realize I can do anything I set my mind to if I am willing to put the work in.”

In the fall, Justin will attend the University of Pennsylvania to study Mechanical Engineering, and later plans to obtain his MBA.

From Ivy League schools to overseas mission fields, each GRACE graduate will without a doubt make a positive impact on the world.

Making the Most of One Million Minutes

Senior Samuel Hodges put it best:  

“Since kindergarten, I’ve spent almost one million minutes here at GRACE.”

He reflected on his parents’ choice to send him to GRACE and how his life has been affected by their investment.

“Other schools might offer similar courses, but here, it’s about who is teaching them, and how they are taught. For me, the teachers are what make GRACE different.”

Samuel says that over the years he’s developed lasting friendships with multiple teachers who have always cared about his life beyond the classroom.

“Because of them, I know I am well prepared for my college experience. Academically and spiritually, I am equipped for life’s challenges.”

Where Will Your Student Spend One Million Minutes?

Choosing a school to partner with you in your child’s education is one of life’s most important decisions. It’s not just about what they’ll be learning, it’s about who they’ll be learning from and mentored by. The teachers at GRACE invest in every student, instilling in them valuable life skills such as Biblical discernment, time management, problem solving, and conflict resolution. As a result, our graduates emerge mature, confident, and ready to make a difference in their world. Schedule Your Tour Today!