By Katy Mena
Community News Writer
Signal Mountain Christian School might just be the most intimate educational institution in the city, perhaps even in the United States. Okay, in the world. Strictly a primary school until recently, SMCS added a middle school two short years ago, and recently celebrated its first-ever eighth-grade graduation.
Bidding farewell to a graduating class of seven students, the faculty of SMCS was afforded a luxury not seen by most schools come graduation season —; time. Thanks to the personal nature of the school and the small size of the eighth grade, both the teachers and the students had the opportunity to share funny stories, inspiring friendships, and parting prayers with each other and the audience.
Teacher Deb Phillips was the voice of a proud and faithful faculty as she gave the graduation address. Entitled, “Into High School and Way Beyond,” Ms. Phillips’ speech focused on vision, imagination, and action. Encouraging the children to dream big without compromising their values, she stressed the importance of pleasing God with their actions. “Play to an audience of one,” she warmly advised. With her playful humor and almost intoxicating faith, Ms. Phillips was the inspirational commencement speaker and educator that will forever be carved into the hearts of her students. Closing with her hopes and prayers for the eighth-graders as they head into high school, Ms. Phillips reminded them all to keep their hearts and minds open. “Put on imagination to see what it is Christ wants you to do,” she said.
Though Ms. Phillips’ speech was a tough act to follow, the presentation of gifts and awards seemed to do just fine. Eighth-grader Nathaniel Bankhead led off the gift-giving portion of the program as he presented the school with a new volleyball and volleyball net, gifts of the fifth- and eighth-grade classes.
Nathaniel was followed by Lori Cook of the Nancy Ward Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Ms. Cook presented the DAR Good Citizenship Award to Rebecca Duong. According to Ms. Cook, Rebecca posseses all of the traits valued by the DAR, including cleanliness, honesty, patriotism, and a sense of service.
Teacher Laura Ryan awarded the Academic Excellence awards to Jonathan Moss and Nathaniel Bankhead. Valuing kindness along with intelligence, Ms. Ryan then gave the Christian Character Award to Ginnie Daugherty. “She truly loves the people God puts in her path,” said Ms. Ryan.
The student address was given by Caroline Thatcher, who is eternally grateful that SMCS added its middle school classes. Having left the school for GPS before the new addition, Caroline promptly returned as the seventh grade was added and couldn’t be happier with her decision, treasuring the friendships she’s made and the teachers she’s been blessed to have.
In the case of this eighth-grade graduation, it seems the first time’s a charm.
E-mail Katy Mena at firstname.lastname@example.org