AVONDALE — Thursday was a special evening at Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy (TJCA) as 80 seniors walked across the graduation stage and received their diplomas.
Upper Campus Principal Dianna Bridges opened the ceremony by complimenting the seniors on their perseverance and accomplishments, which include accepting approximately $7 million in scholarship opportunities.
“I am very humbled, massively proud, delighted, and most of all, extremely impressed by their achievements,” she said.
Salutatorian Mansi Patel spoke to her classmates about the memories of high school.
“And if you do remember one thing from this speech, remember that life will be difficult,” she said. “High school was difficult. There were a lot of times that I was like “yup, never want to do that again”. But also remember to enjoy the good parts of life while it’s happening, because if high school has taught me one thing, it eventually goes away. All the friendships and community that we’ve built won’t be as strong a presence in our lives anymore, but we’ll take all our memories and skills with us forever.”
Valedictorian Erin Murray discussed how the Class of 2022 overcame many obstacles and how it has prepared them for life.
“Our lives are just getting started,” she said. “In truth, we’ve only faced the first of the many and more difficult challenges we will face in our lifetimes. Therefore, I ask you to remember succeeding despite everything you’ve been through, remember the pride and joy of this moment and all the good things that have already resulted from you taking on the greater challenge. It’s easier to give up, but succeeding in the face of adversity reaps the greatest rewards and the happiest moments. This is just the beginning of our stories. The greatest things and the happiest moments are still ahead of us. And if you’re still unsure about the unknown road ahead, that’s okay. As I said earlier, time is fleeting, and as I neglected to say before, that is precisely why our time is so precious. As I’ve observed over the years, we young people tend to be hypercritical of the small things, lose sight of the bigger picture, and shy away from that which scares us. Thus, I give my final advice in rapid succession: let go of yourself, find your passions, and learn to do things in spite of fear. Just like the tubing trip last week, sometimes the best way to go forward in life is to close your eyes, grab a friend, and fall backward through the rapids because life is unpredictable and too short to take too seriously.”
Isothermal Community College President Dr. Margaret Annunziata was the keynote speaker and told the graduates to focus on significance rather than success, quoting John Maxwell.
“Success is when I add value to myself. Significance is when I add value to others,” she said. “Focusing more on myself does not typically lead to making life better for others. Yet the more I add value to others’ experiences, the more I find success for myself.”
After the graduates were presented with their diplomas, Grammar School Principal Jason Cole recognized the “lifers”, which are students who attended TJCA beginning in Kindergarten. He then read from the book “I Wish You More,” an inspirational book full of boundless good wishes.
TJCA faculty member Brian Espinoza then presented the Faculty Cup award. The award was established to honor a senior student who the faculty believes best represents the school and the mission of TJCA. Margaret Schweppe, who will be attending Washington & Lee University, was named the winner of the Faculty Cup.
Upper Campus Assistant Principal Mike Fair addressed the graduates at the end of the ceremony.
“You now stand at the precipice of the next stage of your lives and we are confident that the gifts of knowledge you have acquired at TJCA will support you on your life’s path.”