Congratulations to the 53 members of the Class of 2017 who received their diplomas this past weekend and join the ranks of more than 2,000 St. Johns Spartan alumni.
The official festivities began with a beautiful Baccalaureate service on Friday evening, May 26, at St. Mark's Episcopal Church. The Reverend Ken Herzog delivered an engaging invocation that combined Christmas carols, rap music, and Winston Churchill to encourage students to consider their past, and their path, in the context of faith, hope, and love. When you leave home, he asked graduates, do you want your parents to say "Gee, I really miss him" or, "Man, I'm glad he's gone"?
Headmaster Zehner read the name of each graduate and a sense of gravitas descended on the gathering: Graduation is here.
Indeed, Saturday evening arrived and graduates, friends, and family arrived at the Thrasher-Horne Center for the Arts, in Orange Park, for an uplifting ceremony. The graduates, according to St. Johns tradition, donned long white dresses and white tuxedos, and gathered on stage for awards and commendations. Student-elected speakers Lisette Coll-Román and Allie Wilson delivered heartfelt remarks, and diplomas were presented by President of the Board of Trustees Jonathan Montgomery.
"We are the product of our teachers work and effort," said Coll-Román, "our family's love and support. They've held our hand up to this point, but, it's time to let go." Now it's time for this "wild, amazing ride" that we know as our St. Johns education to end, continued Wilson, but the great adventure that is the rest of our lives is just beginning.
Congratulations, Class of 2017 and to all the honored awardees, particularly the following:
Valedictorian: Megan Pearl Wolf
Roddey R. Fisher Award: Ryan Michael Hilliard and Lillian Lee Dinkins
Stephen F. Russey Award for Best All-Around Young Woman: Lisette Coll-Román
Stephen F. Russey Award for Best All-Around Young Man: Evan Charles Engelbrecht
Dora Helen Skypek Award: Dinuo Yang
Dr. Edwin Paul Heinrich Award: Elizabeth Joann Coen