Sixty-nine TJCA seniors receive diplomas


AVONDALE — Friday was a special evening at Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy (TJCA) as 69 seniors walked across the graduation stage and received their diplomas. 

Executive Director Jason Cole opened the ceremony by complimenting the seniors on their perseverance and thanking them for easing the transition for him this school year.

Salutatorian Annmarie Willis shared the top-8 things she and her classmates learned from their time at TJCA. Her list included the impact made by the graduates’ parents and the TJCA teachers and leaders. 

We are very grateful for how our teachers poured into us and gave us a classical education,” said Willis. 

She also shared some advice on upcoming challenges.

“TJCA has also taught us to take on challenges. Someone once told me, ‘Once a job has just begun never leave it till it’s done. Whether the job is big or small do it right or not at all.’ As we move into the next stage, always remember to do your best work and never give up.”

Valedictorian Maylan Maxwell discussed how the class of 2023 has been molded into a finished product.

“We start Kindergarten as bundles of fiber. Some of us might be wool, cotton, hemp, nylon, or synthetic,” she said. “In the grammar stage of our education, our loving, patient teachers spin us into yarn. They teach us the grammar-level skills we need like reading, writing, adding, subtracting, and a whole bunch of random stuff like Greek mythology.

At the upper campus, we transitioned into the Logic phase of our education. The teachers took the spools of yarn, which are the foundation of our education and began to feed the yarn through the weaving loom. TJCA is tightly woven. The individual strands of yarn are closely intertwined. Each string, although thin and feeble on its own, is woven with all those around it, creating fabric that is so much stronger than the sum of all its parts,” she continued.

Finally, Maxwell says high school is where the seniors became finished products. 

“The fundamentals are there, but TJCA goes above and beyond to create unique, stylish garments in the Rhetoric stage,” she said. “This is where the faculty helps us draft our pattern, make countless mockups, stitch our pieces together, clean up the raw edges, and add personal flair. The genius of the design and the creativity of the concept starts to shine through. Take everything we are and everything we’ve been, from the first day of kindergarten when we were mere bundles of fiber, to now - when our journey through grammar, logic, and rhetoric has culminated in this finished product.”

After the graduates were presented with their diplomas, Cole recognized the “lifers”, which are students who attended TJCA beginning in Kindergarten. He then read from the book “I Knew You Could” an inspirational book that reminds the reader that there is a light at the end of every tunnel. 

“As you face challenges in life, remember to keep going towards the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

TJCA faculty member Greg Stearns presented the Gryphon Award to Maylan Maxwell. TJCA faculty member Jonathan Foust followed with the presentation of the Faculty Cup to Jennie Conner. 

A new addition to graduation was the presentation of the inaugural Liberalis Award, which is given to an individual who has gone above and beyond through volunteer service to the TJCA community. The inaugural award was presented to Pam Jones.