My sister is currently a freshman at ACU, but this past June she graduated 2nd in her class at the Christian Academy of Greater St. Louis. Here is her salutatorian speech. Read it and see how similar our writing styles are, as well as some values in life that we share (I think you'll know what I mean); of course, there are a few differences too! ;)
Jayme Smith's Graduation Speech:
Even though I’ve only attended Christian Academy for two years, it’s felt like a lifetime. I remember the summer before my junior year when my dad was telling me about a school called Christian Academy. As soon as he told me that it was a private school, I automatically asked if they had to wear uniforms, because there was no way I was getting into one of those plaid skirts. But must to my relief my dad said they didn’t. I had gone to public school my entire life and this would be the biggest decision I would have to make. For some reason, I decided to go for it, not knowing that this choice would affect my life in the greatest way.
If any of you can remember what I was like my first semester at CA, you would know that I am exactly the opposite now. I didn’t talk. I recently had a discussion with one my good friends, Lindsey Stopke, and she told me that she was even shocked to have met a girl who talked less than her! I have to admit that I didn’t like CA very much when I first came. Everything was completely different from my public school. But soon, that all began to change.
I got up enough courage to try out for basketball and am I glad I did! I believe that’s when I started realizing what Christian Academy was all about. I haven’t missed the opportunity to play a single sport since then. I knew that I would be able to keep my grades up and that’s what school was always about for me. But when I came to CA, it became so much more.
Christian Academy is about people. Up until I came to CA, I called people my “friends” and “best friends” because they were people I had known since kindergarten. Now, I’m a little shocked to have called them my friends at all. I didn’t know the true definition of a friend until I met the people at CA. A friend is someone who loves you no matter how many times you drive them up a wall. A friend is someone who will stay with you on the phone, listening to your problems until you promise them that you’re okay. A friend is someone who would stick by your side no matter what and puts their faith in you always.
The definition of a teacher was also brought to my attention while attending CA. I had only known teachers that would help me with a math problem or an error in grammar. That wasn’t the true definition of a teacher. A teacher is an extraordinary being who not only seeks each individual student’s needs and sees that they’ve been accomplished within the specific subject, but who also cares about the student’s life. A teacher listens to a student, even when the student’s not speaking. The definition of a teacher goes hand-in-hand with the definition of love.
To be totally honest, the most amazing aspect of Christian Academy is how you’re affected spiritually. I have attended the Church of Christ my entire life and when I came to CA, I went a whole year with people assuming that I was a Christian because I was already “walking the path.” Only a few of my close friends had found out that I wasn’t a Christian and they were concerned.
By the beginning of my senior year, the topic of baptism was brought to my attention everyday by that little voice inside my head called a conscience. I didn’t know if I was ready to become a Christian of if I was just scared to change my life. And if you know me, I tend to push important things to the back of my mind when I don’t know how to handle them. I’m ashamed to say that’s what I did, but God wasn’t going to have it. Out of the blue, one of my closest friends brought the topic up. She was very courageous in this process because she knew, but didn’t care, that I didn’t want to talk about it. And am I glad that she told me that she wasn’t going to leave me alone because she loved me. She stuck with me and answered every question I had. She sat next to me as I talked with adults about becoming a Christian. There was no doubt in my mind that God was working through her so she could help me.
This is what God does with the people at CA, if you let Him, He will do awesome things through you. What left me in awe was that this friend was three years younger than myself and she was helping me out more than those who were older than me. Standing only a few feet away, on the stairs of the baptistery, she watched me become a Christian. If I wouldn’t have come to CA, I wouldn’t have my good friends and I probably wouldn’t have become a Christian.
I have grown tremendously close to the people at CA since I first began. Sometimes I ask God why He only gave me two years at CA, but then I realized that it’s just that, God gave me two years at the Christian Academy. These two years have been the two most memorable of my 18 years of life. When I first walked into CA, I didn’t know what to expect and to tell you the truth, I didn’t even know who I was. Now that I can reflect, I want to thank you CA, for helping me find myself, Jayme, and for helping me grow mentally, emotionally and most importantly, spiritually.
As I come to a conclusion, I ask you to keep touching the lives of students as you’ve touched mine. I love each and every one of you and Christian Academy will forever own a special place in my heart.