Faith Academy graduates 19 (video)
Jennifer Lee Preyss
June 3, 2012 at 1:03 a.m.
Taylor Swift's "Never Grow Up" quieted a crowded Faith Family sanctuary Sunday, as seniors dressed in caps and gowns prepared to walk down the aisle.
Childhood photos of each Faith Academy graduate streamed on two oversized screens while they walked to their seats, and waited to collect their diplomas.
Emotions ran high among the group of 19 seniors. Some excited and laughing, others solemn and tearful.
Beth Ariel Wyant, who was the last to walk to her seat, stood in the back of the line, and for a moment allowed the tears to fall down her cheeks.
"My brother passed away at my sister's graduation. I'm thinking of him," Beth said about her brother Cullen Wyant, who was 23 at the time of his death. "I want him to be here."
The small graduating class size allowed Faith Academy faculty to spend more time on the achievements of each graduate, using the overhead screens to announce future college plans, and academic and extracurricular honors.
Nearly half of the class graduated with academic honors, receiving a 90 or above cumulative grade point average.
When salutatorian Shelby Brown was called to the microphone, she encouraged her classmates to rise to their full potential, and congratulated her friend Emmitt Reinke on his valedictorian achievement.
"Even though I didn't get valedictorian, one of my best friends, Emmitt, did and I couldn't be more proud of him," Shelby said.
Emmitt and Shelby have been entwined in an academic sparring for the valedictorian spot since seventh grade. He beat her by .0437 of a point.
In his valedictorian speech, Emmitt also thanked Shelby for pushing him to work harder, "Because I knew I didn't have a choice," he said.
Addressing the entire group, Emmitt charged the class of 2012 to go out into the world and be the leaders it so desperately needs.
"Do not let these years be the best of your life. Do not live your lives so stuck in the past, and turned around so much that you can't see where you're going," Emmitt said. "Remember these days as good days. But face forward and be determined to make the most of the rest of your lives."