Skip Navigation

Class of 2023

Congratulations to the class of 2023! Read about some of their favorite memories at Rockbridge and some of the words of advice they have for the students they leave behind. May the Lord bless their future steps as they move on from our halls but not from our hearts.

Just for fun, they were requested to answer the following question: Who would you have dinner with if you could dine with any person, living or dead? Why?

Clara Atsinger

One of my favorite memories of my time from Rockbridge Academy is from the ferry on Grand Tour going from Greece to Rome. A few students plus some parents got together to do a little worship and devotional service. It was honestly my favorite part of the whole trip, being with everyone, being vulnerable about our faith, and sharing our joy with each other. When we sang hymns, I remember that a few strangers came and sang with us, and something about that was really touching. I will never forget that Sunday morning! 

As a word of advice to those I leave behind:  It might seem like you have years and years ahead of you, that school is going to drag on and on, but trust me, it’s going to be over before you know it. Make the most of your time here, your education is one of the most important things in your life that shapes who you are, and without the incredible influence of my parents and teachers, and most importantly, God, I would not be the person I am today. Have fun, work hard, and remember that even if this year is tough, you’ll look back on it fondly soon enough!  

For my senior thesis, I will be defending the following: Why the study of Shakespeare should be preserved in school curriculums. 

Prayer request: I am currently in the process of auditions and figuring out my path to a professional ballet company!  Please pray that God will show me the doors that he wants opened and help me through this process step by step.  

For fun: If I could have dinner with someone, I'd love to share a meal with Charlotte Brontë…I just want to geek out about Jane Eyre to her!! 

A blessing from Miss Monica Godfrey: Clara, it has been a joy to get to know you, your love of beauty, literature, art, and truth, your passion for learning and excellence. You have so many gifts and a great capacity for leadership and friendship. I’m glad you got to pursue dance this year (though you have been greatly missed around the halls of Rockbridge!) I pray that the Lord will guide your steps and give you discernment. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus; He is the ultimate goal that we strain toward—that we may be more like Him each day. “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Num 6:24-26)

David Bradley

One of my favorite memories from my time at Rockbridge was this year's Captain's Cup. Our class executed the idea of Rick-rolling everyone perfectly! 

As a word of advice to those I leave behind, I would encourage you all to act out what you believe. Everything we learn about God, about ethics, about love is pointless if we don’t act it out towards one another. 

Please pray for me that God will help me find a new community, make new friends, and find a new church as I transition to what God has for me next. 

The man I would want to dine with is C. S. Lewis. If I got a chance to talk with him I could learn so much more about theology and philosophy. Talking to him would help me develop my ideas as he’s such an excellent thinker.

For my thesis, I will be defending the following: Negative emotions are an important part of the Christian life. God gave us fear, anger, and sorrow, there is a right time and a just way to exercise each of these emotions.  Our anger against unjust hurt, our fear of harm for others, and our sorrow concerning hurt which has been inflicted directly proceed from our love.

A blessing from Mr. Lawing: David, you are one of the Lord’s faithful men. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to watch you grow and mature in your walk with Christ. Your Fight Club (men's prayer club) prayers are always centered on your hunger for personal godliness. Your petitions resound with a mature and tender desire to see yourself and your brethren excelling in your walks with Christ. You constantly demonstrate how God is answering those prayers for you in how you model a quiet, humble, and sincere devotion to our Lord. You have fought the good fight, David. You are near to finishing your course here at Rockbridge, and I would like to encourage you to excel still more to finish the race that God has set before you. David Bradley, faithful servant of Christ, may the Lord preserve you in His grace as you serve and honor Him!

Gabriel Crane

My favorite memory of my time at Rockbridge has to be the fall 2022 soccer season. Coaches and players showed up motivated to get better and train well. While we sadly lost our two tournament finals, I can confidently say I had a blast playing both games alongside my teammates, and in a sense, we had one of the best seasons ever with having made it to two tournament finals, one being a state tournament. I have never enjoyed soccer as much as last fall, and I will miss it dearly next year. 

As a word of advice to those I leave behind: Something that helped me make the most of my time at Rockbridge was building relationships with my teachers. Your teachers want to get to know you and teach you better. Take the time to ask your teachers questions and get to know them. You miss out on a lot if you can’t do that with the people you spend most of your week with. Each of my teachers has encouraged me both academically and spiritually. They are all strong believers who want you to grow in your faith. I know Mr. Northup’s Monday war stories and Mr. Head’s daily morning devotions will always stick with me even long after I graduate. 

For my senior thesis, I will be defending the following: We should not replace human creativity with artificial intelligence creativity within art. 

For fun: If I could have dinner with someone, I’d like to share a meal with Jeff Lynne, the frontman of the Electric Light Orchestra. I like almost all the music he writes. His wacky imagination comes out in his music, so I expect a dinner with him would be engaging.

A blessing from Mr. Head: “… For a long time, [he] was taken by the Geats/ for less than he was worth…/ they firmly believed he lacked force…” Quiet resolve. Strength applied to goodness. A spirit that yields to the right, but becomes, when called, a fixed point around which others can—and do—rally. In all this, a good friend. By God’s grace, you are not showy—and yet, by His grace, in that quietness, His grace is shown to those who need to see it. Your talents are many and your roots run deep, and the new world you are entering may not always think much of it… until the arms of monsters need tearing off or strongholds need to fall. “…and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” May the Lord guide you in kicking in many of Satan’s gates.

Logan Dunfee

One of my favorite memories of my time at Rockbridge was when the entire class jogged up to Mars Hill in Athens, Greece, to watch the sunset together. 

As a word of advice to those I leave behind: Don't procrastinate thesis so you can enjoy your junior and senior years outside of school. 

For my senior thesis, I will be defending the following: America should expand and invest in its nuclear power industry. 

For fun: If I could have dinner with someone, I'd pick Dietrich Bonhoeffer. After writing my WW2 paper on him, I was inspired by his conviction and bravery. 

A blessing from Miss Knoll: Logan, from the first day of ninth grade until now, God has blessed me by granting me a front-row seat to His work in your life. I have seen you grow in maturity as a leader, as a student, and as a friend. Having discussions in math class about witnessing and more were memorable and formative to all involved. Though we probably should have done more math and less volleyball, I loved watching and sharing your excitement. I echo the words of Paul for you as you leave this place, that you “continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed.” Above all, I pray for you to “be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.”

Alicia England

One of my favorite memories from my time at Rockbridge comes from Grand Tour. It was our last morning in Athens and some of us climbed Mount Lycabettus at 5:00 in the morning. We struggled to the top together, and we were rewarded by one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen. We prayed and laughed together, and it will forever be in my memory. 

As a word of advice to those I leave behind, something my mom told me last year has never left my mind. She said, “Don’t close doors of opportunity on yourself.” If it’s not meant to be, God will close it for you. And remember to always pray in every situation whether you are rejoicing or mourning, prayer is a powerful thing and one of the deepest connections we can have with the Lord. 

For my senior thesis, I am speaking on ADHD and why the evaluations of this disorder must change.

For fun: If I could have dinner with someone, I'd love to share a meal with Esther. First, it is one of my favorite books in the Bible, and second, I’d love to hear her tell her story and tell me things she learned. 

A blessing from Mrs. Bachmann: Grit. Determination. Joy. Faithfulness. Those are just a few of the words that I think of when I think about you, Alicia. Over the years, it has been a blessing to witness your diligence, your growing confidence, and the care you have shown your friends. I’ll never forget one morning earlier this year when I passed by you at your locker. Upon closer inspection, you were nearly in your locker reading the Bible! (It had been a particularly difficult morning.) Alicia, I pray that you always find peace and comfort in your place as a daughter of the King. May you always turn to Him and to His Word. May you praise Him with your beautiful voice all the days of your life. “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” Isaiah 26:4

Jane Farr

My favorite memory from my time at Rockbridge is probably my birthday on Grand Tour. A bunch of us had been talking about deep things the night before, when we were in Delphi (best hotel), and so we were full of plans for an awesome senior year. An optimal birthday, of course, requires working out to justify extra cake later, so a few of us went on a run that morning (complete with an amazing sunrise and scary dogs chasing us). Later in the day, we travelled to Olympia, where we had a feast and Greek dancing (with the must-have dancing on tables and breaking of plates)! To cap it all off, we celebrated my (and Gabriel’s) birthday with yummy cake for dessert. All in all, best birthday I’ve ever had.

A word of advice to those I leave: Don’t take yourself too seriously. People love you for who you are, not for what you do. Learn to work hard but also laugh when appropriate…and when necessary. Knowing this earlier in life will save a lot of stress and worry (and we all know there’s plenty to worry about anyways). 

My senior thesis is about our pursuit of American culture’s ideal of physical beauty. Beauty, though a gracious gift from God, too easily becomes and idol. 

Please pray that I will be able to balance my time well the rest of this year and in college so that I will get enough sleep and food…also that I would focus on what is important, rather than random side things. 

For fun: If I had to pick someone real to have dinner with, I would pick Abigail Adams (wife of John Adams) because she has always been one of my favorite First Ladies. She (like me) read voraciously, and she was able to learn so much about the world at a time when most women’s knowledge was limited to their small towns. She was also able to impact our young country, as well as different European nations, in huge ways through her many connections. If I was allowed to pick a fictional character, I would 100% pick Anne Shirley Blythe, the main character of one of my favorite series of all time. I love her joyful yet thoughtful approach to life (and I’ve re-read those books so many times that I feel like I know her already). 

A blessing from Mrs. Keatts: Jane, God has gifted you with diligence, kindness, and a great sense of humor. I will always remember your very witty and educational biology journal entries that made me chuckle every time I read them! Your diligence and kindness is demonstrated in the classroom and on the soccer field where your teachers, peers, and coaches know that you will always give it your all. The maturity, confidence, and focus that you have developed over the past few years will help you succeed in fulfilling your goals as you begin the next chapter of your life. Remember that God has a plan for you—"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11). I pray that you will continue to keep God at the forefront of your life journey.

Jackson Fenimore

Though I have only been at Rockbridge for four short years, I have many amazing memories. My favorite, however, would have to be from Grand Tour when Mr. Keehner and Mrs. Ball guided the senior class up to a large outcrop overlooking Athens, set next to the Parthenon. When we all climbed up the steps carved into the ancient rock, we learned that this was where Paul witnessed to the Athenians in the time of Acts on Mars Hill. As the sun was setting over the beautiful city, we all read Acts 17 which recounts the sermon he preached about the gospel. Being able to stand where Paul stood and read what he said centuries ago truly brought the Bible to life. It was an amazing experience that I will always cherish. 

As a word of advice to those I leave behind: As you progress through the grades, more things in your life can increasingly become stressful. A senior or junior thesis, orals, and even the college search is enough to cause anxiety in your heart. What has really helped me cope with all this stress is to slow down and live in the now. Take the time to give the best work that you can, but do not mentally drain yourself wondering about the "what if.” Realizing that I am my worst critic and that I am the source of most of my stress has allowed me to be intentional in focusing on what I can control.  

I will be defending the following for my thesis: President Bush's war on terror doctrine does not conform to just war theory.  

Please pray for me to have the strength to carry all the burdens that the future will present—learning how to live with a roommate, being so far from home, and the academic and practical rigor that my degree in professional aviation will require. I have always loved to fly, and it is a daunting thing to turn one of my hobbies into a career I will carry throughout my life. Please pray for wisdom as I pursue this dream and where it will take me. 

For fun: Most people would not recognize the name William Mitchell, commonly known as Billy Mitchell, yet, if I could, I would love to have dinner with him to talk about his accomplishments. Growing up in an Air Force family, I was constantly surrounded by military aircraft, and I became fascinated by airplanes and the men and women who flew them. When I joined Civil Air Patrol at the age of 12, I learned about Billy Mitchell who was referred to as the "Father of the United States Air Force,” and I immediately wanted to learn more about him. He had a vision for the newly invented airplane as a weapon of war. No one else shared his vision, and he had much backlash for his innovative ideas. He had so much faith in these machines and for their potential that he did not back down from his belief even to the point of being court-martialed. I would love to talk to him about his courage in the face of adversity and his immense foresight to see how future wars would be fought before anyone else could. 

A blessing from Mrs. Keatts: "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12) Jackson, when I read this verse, it reminds me of your genuine spirit. Whether you are in the classroom or on the soccer field you display kindness and quiet leadership amongst your classmates and teammates. I pray that you continue to grow in Christ. May you be a blessing to the new friends who you will meet and those who will have the pleasure of teaching you. Continue to be kind, humble, gentle, and patient, for these are attributes that will help you navigate the peaks and valleys that you will encounter in the next step of your journey.

Travis Furlow

One of my favorite memories of my time at Rockbridge was from fourth grade, when Mrs. Williams opened the second floor classroom window at Baldwin Hall (our old building), and the air conditioner fell out! In addition, I'm also grateful for all the times I spent with my friends, whether we were doing an assignment or goofing off, they helped me make some great memories. 

As a word of advice to those I leave behind: Make sure school doesn't get too boring. Your education is what you make of it, so be creative. Accept the challenges.
I will be defending the following for my thesis: Most of the current forms of gun control in America haven’t proven to prevent the acquisition or use of guns by criminals and should be abolished or reformed.    
For fun: If I could have dinner with someone, I'd like to share a meal with Tom DeLonge because of how influential his music has been to me in so many ways. He inspired me to learn guitar, teach myself, and compose my own music.  

A blessing from Mr. Head: Those who know you best, know the talents you sometimes hide: a tender conscience, a firm resolve, a strong grasp on what you know to be true and right. In those places where your talents shine, they shine brightly—not so bright, though, that you yourself often see it. The Lord bless you with eyes to see His working in you, and the way He is working through you, and the ways He can work even more. May that work increase, and may you be blessed by watching it increase. Do not let the words of the world drown this out, nor distract you from the one Who began a good work in you, and Who will be faithful to complete it, even when you do not see how. Through all the dark places, He will be your Light. 

Holly Greenip

One of my favorite memories of my time at Rockbridge happened on Grand Tour. It was the third night of the trip, our final night in Athens. Our hotel was in an awesome location in the tourist section of Athens, near to many of the coolest parts of the city. That night after dinner, several of us decided to climb the Areopagus before playing our nightly round of soccer. It was already well past sunset, so the sky was pitch black and the city was covered in lights. Sitting there on the Areopagus, I had my favorite view of the whole trip. Even the Parthenon was lit up in such a way as to make it stand out. I think part of the reason that this is my favorite memory from Grand Tour is because in this moment I realized two things: first, that I loved randomly being able to climb the Areopagus whenever my friends and I felt like it, and second, that I needed to get as much out of Grand Tour as possible because I will never have the same experience again.

As a word of advice to students I am leaving, I would say get involved in as much as you can as early as you can. Don't waste your time watching TV when you could be in a sport or a club. Don't let those little moments or opportunities go to waste because you can't get them back. You won't regret the time you spent doing your activities, but you will regret the activities you didn't do. However, don't over-commit if you're the kind of person who needs a less hectic schedule. 

For my thesis, I will be defending the following: Public elementary education should be individualized within the classroom.

Please pray for my upcoming decisions about my future, especially college.

For fun: If I had a chance to have dinner with someone, it would definitely be George Washington. I want to have a career in the military, and George Washington is the kind of leader I aspire to be. He beat the odds in the revolutionary war, cobbled together different military tactics into an extremely clever strategy, and was the best president our nation has ever had. What really shines through in all of his leadership was his Christian character. No one could meet him without being deeply affected by it, especially his humility. He even turned down the people when they offered to make him king. I'd like to ask his advice on becoming a better leader.

A blessing from Mr. JD Head: Life is not often what we expect or plan … or even what we get done between periods of class. “The best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry”; but God’s never do. That moment you wish you could get back will come and it will go, but your Savior will be by your side, shaping you and guiding you, always. Be firm and focused—not on your plans alone, but His… and delight in what He does, in the left hand turn that you thought would be a right, in the two week journey that turns into a year, on the hard road that turns hard when you thought it would be easier. Never lose that firm focus on the One Whose loving eye has never turned from you.

Nathan Kawecki

One of my favorite memories from Rockbridge Academy happened at Delphi on Grand Tour. It was late at night after we had all split up to do devotionals together. A few of my classmates found each other outside and had great conversations. The night sky was beautiful and shooting stars littered the darkness. I made connections with my friends that night that I will remember forever.

As a word of advice to those I leave behind, I would encourage all to be confident in what they think but at the same time be thoughtful about what they say.  

For my senior thesis, I will be defending the following: The government should not collect tax revenue from legalized vices resulting in negative internalities. 

Please pray that I would find a Christian community and friends in college.  

For fun: If I could have dinner with someone, I'd like to share a meal with Brandon Sanderson. He is my favorite author and I would love to talk to him about the books he has written.  

A blessing from Mr. JD Head: May the Lord bless you with the ability to do what you are called to, even when you do not see the reason; may you do what you are called to for love of the One Who has called you, and never for fear of man. May your resilience allow you space to find the beauty in the moments of yielding and in the moments of standing—often the same thing—and in the singular act of creation as you follow the Creator. May your creations—all your work—draw that beauty out for others to see, and in seeing it, may they be drawn to the Savior. And may your greatest art be the life the Lord draws for you. 

Luke Kim

My favorite memory from Rockbridge was the first in-person concert we had after Covid shut down everything. It’s a joy and a blessing to be able to make beautiful music with friends you’ve known for years. Covid especially made me realize how much I cherish those memories. I love concerts because it is where the beautiful gift of music can be shared with the Rockbridge community.

As a word of advice to those I leave behind, I would say, now is the time to make mistakes and grow from them. Don’t let failure discourage you, instead, let it propel you to work even harder. It’s always better to work hard now than to not work hard enough and have regrets later. Plus, it’s what we’re called to do: “work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. Knowing that from the Lord, you will receive the inheritance as your reward.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

For my thesis, I will be defending the following: Cosmetic limb lengthening surgery is unethical.

Please pray for guidance and peace from God as I transition to college and whatever else God has planned for me.  

For fun: If I could have dinner with someone, I would enjoy dining with Vivaldi, the composer. I love and respect Vivaldi not just for his music, but for the life he led. I particularly want to ask him what motivated him to pursue composition and teach violin at an orphanage while also pursuing priesthood.

A blessing from Mrs. Thelma James: Luke, all glory to God for your success through the years.  And a big congratulations to you!  I remember a fifth grader not too long ago who set Bible verses to music.  Your commitment to learning God’s word and to doing good work was a great blessing to me.  God has given you all that pertains to life and godliness. He has nurtured and faithfully prepared you for this moment when you will step into a much bigger world than you have ever known.  As you experience new things and encounter new ideas, may His word be your microscope.  May He instruct you in the way you should go and comfort you with the knowledge of His presence at every turn.  Luke, you are ready.  Stand firm in the faith. There are many cheering you on!

Alyssa Moreno

My favorite memories from my time at Rockbridge have been forged in the car rides with my teammates in my senior soccer and basketball seasons. These car rides opened the door to building relationships with my teammates that wouldn't have been possible any other way. Whether it was ranting about our day, telling a funny story, asking for advice, or having a blast screaming to our favorite songs, these car rides were always a highlight of my day. I have grown so close to my teammates over the past seasons, and I could not be more grateful for them and the time I have spent with them. 

My advice to the younger classmen is to embrace change and always remember to laugh. Cherish your close friends and family; hold them close, because in a blink of an eye everything could be flipped upside down. However, when you are faced with change, embrace it. God works in mysterious ways, and you will be amazed at the people and things He will put in your life through change. Change is a beautiful thing that can bring out the best in you and allow you to build relationships you never thought would have existed. Allow change to work; don't fight it; embrace it. Also, always remember to laugh. Laugh every chance you get; laugh at yourself; laugh at the small things; laugh at nothing; laugh with your friends. We always take everything so seriously that we forget to have joy in the things we do. You'll be surprised how much laughing more will change your day and your life. Just take some time and find joy in the things around you and laugh. 

For my senior thesis, I will be defending the following: Social-emotional learning facilitates proper student development and should be implemented in the American school system.  

Please pray for my mom, my younger sister, and me as we go through the journey of sending me off to college together.  

If I could have dinner with someone, I would chose my dad. My dad passed away unexpectedly in the summer of 2021, and I would like nothing more than to have the chance to talk to him one more time—to hear his stories, his terrible jokes, his complaints about his coworkers, and just his lessons about life. I wish that I could sit with him one last time so that he could teach me all the lessons and give me all the advice that he never got the chance to. He was a strong, funny, and caring man, and I miss him dearly and I wish that I had more time with him. So, I would love to have dinner with him so that I can have the chance to have the conversations we never got to have and to tell him how much I love him one last time.

A blessing from Miss Godfrey: Alyssa, you are tenacious and energetic—a life force! You demonstrate perseverance, joy, and fearlessness. I appreciate your thoughtful reflection, your willingness to consider an idea that you’re not sure about, and the way you embrace truth. May your confidence always be rooted in Christ and who you are in Him, a child of God and co-heir with Christ. I pray that you will experience abundant life, walking with the Lord and knowing His great love for you deep in your soul. I’m excited to see how the Lord will continue to use you to be a light in the darkness. “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 5:16)

Grace Nguyen

I tend to appreciate small and sometimes silly moments, so one of my favorite memories of my time at Rockbridge comes from Grand Tour when our class was in Italy. After we had a tour of St. Peter’s Basilica with our guide Antonino, everyone was exhausted because of the crowds and burning temperatures. So Antonino let us have a break before going in another museum. Meanwhile, he continued telling us stories and explanations of what we were about to see while we were just sitting against the walls of the museum. Within five minutes, almost all my classmates were passed out and asleep. Even those who hadn't fallen asleep had no energy and no ability to concentrate on what our guide was presenting. I found it so funny because of the contrast between Antonino being enthusiastic with his speech and everyone just passing out. Also, I love that moment because my friends who almost always have so much energy to ask Miss Knoll for volleyball every time they go to math class, or ask to go outside in Bible and Great Ideas, at that moment were just lying there on the ground so quietly. It was just an interesting moment for the class of 2023. I love this small, silly, and memorable picture of our class. It was so normal, simple, and common, but as Winnie the Pooh once said, “We didn't realize we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun.” 

One thing I have just recently been learning is to wake up every morning with joy and gratitude. I think most of us have heard the sentence, “It feels like Monday.” We all know that it’s a way we try to express our exhaustion, discouraged about work and the longing for the weekend. Yes, there are obviously days we feel heavy, discouraged, tired, or sleepy. All we want to do is to go home, take a nap, and forget about homework, tests, grades, and thesis. Then, the next morning, we wake up, saying “Haizzz, it’s gonna be another Monday,” or “The weekend never comes.” But why would we wake up worrying how the day will be, when we can indeed determine how our day will be?  Every day is a new and different day that God has made. We know how creative He is. He definitely is able to make tomorrow different from today, and today is a whole new thing from yesterday. We should wake up every morning and say with David, “This is the day the Lord has made, and I’m going to enjoy it.” Our hope, joy, and gratitude are what bring Him glory. God wants us to enjoy His ways, be happy with His work, and hope for His will to be done. So as a word of advice to those I leave behind, let us not focus on what’s wrong today. Let us focus on what’s right, thank God for what we have, and not dwell on what we don’t have. We can definitely enjoy every day in our life if we want to badly enough. 

I will be defending the following for my senior thesis: The quality of art has declined in modern days.  

For fun: I would love to have dinner with Socrates. Some people might argue that Socrates is not a real person and that the one I actually want to have dinner with is Plato. Yet, I still specifically mean Socrates, because he believes that writing is inferior to dialogue. I totally agree with this. I would love to have a day-long talk rather than texting and writing. Also, I'm impressed with the way Socrates can question anything and then analyze and answer it all by himself. A dinner with Socrates will be the most interesting and never ending conversation because Socrates never stops asking questions and seeking for answers. More importantly, if I could have a dinner with Socrates, it will actually be Socrates talking to himself the whole time. This is actually great, especially when I don’t really like talking too much when eating.

A blessing from Mrs. Hollidge: Grace, the Lord your God has done many wonders in your life! As the psalmist says, they are “too many to declare.” In His kindness, Jesus placed His hand on you and brought you from afar to Rockbridge where you hear His glorious gospel each day. It was my joy to get to know you and watch you labor to learn God’s Word, the history of western civilization, and the English language during the summer you prepared to begin school at Rockbridge Academy. You flourished academically and relationally, and I am honored to have witnessed your confession of faith when you joined your church. I have great hopes for you, but none can compare with the plans of your Sovereign Lord; “…know that [He] can do anything and no plan of [His] can be thwarted.” Job 42.2

Tim Persons

My favorite memory from my time at Rockbridge was probably on Grand Tour, where almost every morning, in every big city our class went, Mrs. Ball, myself, and a few other people from our grade would get up extremely early in the morning to go running. We ran in Delphi, Athens, Rome, Florence, Sienna, and other places; we got up so early we could see all the sights and the beauty of God's creation, undisturbed by all the other tourists that would be in our way during the daytime. Also, because we ran together in the early morning, each day we were able to see the sunrise, which was absolutely breathtaking each and every time.

As a word of advice to those I leave behind: DO NOT PROCRASTINATE!! Always do your work first, and then have fun times, not the other way around. Otherwise, it will cost you dearly if you lose track of time. Trust me, this is a life skill which will save you many troubles in the future when you step into the real world. Not that I'm a procrastinator or anything... 

For my senior thesis, I will be defending the following: The disparity between state and federal regulation of marijuana is harmful to this nation. 

Please pray that I find certainty in the midst of uncertainty. Also pray that I find the courage to love the people around me that God has given to me, even the ones I do not like, and be brave enough to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them. 

I would love to share a meal with Mr. Nathan Northup who was a homeroom teacher and Bible teacher. He has been an excellent friend and mentor and has had the greatest impact on my entire life. Besides, it would be nice to truly catch up one more time. 

A blessing from Mrs. Ward: Timmy, it has been a joy to watch you grow these past three years, and I know that the Lord will continue to shape you to the Godly man He desires you to be. May you continue to learn from past mistakes, knowing that our God is Redeemer; may you continue to wrestle with the paradoxes of our faith, knowing that our God is Truth. May you delight in the blessings of this world, ever thankful to the One from whom all good gifts come. And when suffering comes, as it will, may you recall this advice of St. John of the Cross: “In sorrow and suffering, go straight to God with confidence, and you will be strengthened, enlightened, and instructed.” Finally, in all things, be “steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).

Ivanna Rhodes

My favorite memory of my time at Rockbridge was not something that took place on a field trip or on Grand Tour or in the classroom, though I do have many good memories of those times. However, my favorite memory took place outside of Rockbridge though it was with people from my class. It was the summer before my spinal surgery, right before I started 9th grade. Months beforehand, the girls in my class all got together and planned a surprise “surgery shower” for me, where they showered me with gifts, chocolate, prayers, and encouragement. It still remains the highlight of my time at Rockbridge because of how it showed the care and love people had for me and the lengths to which they went to demonstrate that love to me. 

One word of advice I would like to leave, especially for upper schoolers, is to stay dedicated to the Lord and cherish your relationship with Him. A good education is helpful in many ways, but caring for the soul is what will bring you the greatest fulfillment in your life beyond getting good grades or participating in all the programs. Keep Christ preeminent and He will be with you in all of your learning. 

For my senior thesis, I will be defending the following: The use of social media necessarily involves negative side effects. 

I ask for continued prayer for college decisions and scholarships—pray that the Lord would plant me where I will both grow in Him and also get a good education. 

For fun: One person I would enjoy having dinner with is J.R.R. Tolkien. He is my hero because he is one of the primary people who inspired me to write. I would want to have a meal with him because I would want to ask him how he was able to draw from both the good and bad events in his life along with his faith and turn it into ideas that became the famous Lord of the Rings.   

A blessing from Mrs. Mathisen: Dear Ivanna, it has been such a joy to watch you grow and mature into a young lady of confidence, poise, and fortitude. Your winsome nature and patience have set a beautiful example for the younger students you selflessly served. As you move forward into the new challenges to which the Lord is calling you, my fervent prayer for you is Hebrews 4: 16, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” The charge is ‘to come boldly’, to come in the confident assurance that you are a daughter of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, and most importantly, to simply 'come.' Ivanna, as you go forth into the world, I pray that you will evermore be “coming boldly unto the throne.”

Lucas Schueckler

A favorite recent memory I will take with me came from the senior seminar class. We had been listening to Edward Elgar's Enigma variations. Elgar's Enigma was an homage to his friends and loved ones. The themes he implemented represented facets of each of their characters. Mrs. Ball asked us all if we too could picture each other in this musical way. After class, I remember hearing people saying, "Oh you would definitely be an oboe" or "you would sound like a cello mixed with a recorder." Despite almost all of our class being in choir, this was one of the first times I have seen us actually interact over music. Even those outside of choir seemed to have fun solving the Enigma's puzzle and matching our classmates with their respective instruments. I have always known that music can bring people together, but I was really surprised to see this happen. It made me very happy; I love music, and the same love I had, seemed to peek through for them that day. We still have a few more seminar classes before the end of the year, so I am excited for more!

As a word of advice to those I leave behind: Always be looking for new opportunities. When I was in third grade—I hope I've changed since then—my mom made me participate in the school musical, The Music Man. As a kid, I disregarded the true value of this opportunity, and just saw it as an extra bit of fun. Now, I really appreciate my mom getting me involved in something I wasn't used to because now acting is a regular hobby of mine. I really hope to pursue drama in the future, but I would have never known it was an option without some guidance, and a little bit of pushing. When you seek out opportunities, at first, it really might seem like it's too hard or out of your grasp; if you put in the effort though, most things you try you can succeed in.  If you don't take that first wade in the water, then of course you won't make it, but after that first step, you start to understand what is and isn't possible for you.

For my senior thesis, I will be defending the following: Christians have a God-given right to develop weapons of mass destruction

Please pray that I will focus my priorities as I go to college. I am very easily distracted by a lot of things, so please pray that I can make a priority of getting my work done before I relax.

If I could share a meal with someone, I would love to have dinner with an old family friend named Jessica Rehn. She passed away with cancer about a decade ago so I was really young. She was one of the youth AWANA leaders at my church. She always had a smile on her face. She was always kind and friendly. But above all she was extremely devoted to the Lord. Even on her hospital bed, she would ask each of my siblings and me how we had been before talking about herself. When I was a kid, I really thought she might recover. I just wish I could have dinner with her now, being older, and ask her for advice. Just ask her how she stayed so kind and caring during her own hardships. I know it's ultimately because of her trust in Jesus' work on the cross, but I always feel like she had no obligation to be so kind to us in her time of trial. I am glad that I will see her again in heaven.

A blessing from Mr. Head: "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Lucas, you are and have been a good friend: a good listener, a comfort to those around you who know you. The compassion you have shown has been a reflection of the compassion shown to you by your Lord—the Lord who says, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, because all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” May you, as you comfort, encourage, and (as a good friend should) challenge those to whom you have been given, give to them the good news of the hope that lies within you: the Gospel story of the One Who laid down His life for His friends. Because you listen, they, too, might hear.

Colin Touhey

My favorite memory of my time at Rockbridge would have to be from Grand Tour when I, a few friends, and Mrs. Ball went to an amazing pizza shop in Florence, Italy. The atmosphere there was amazing and we were all dancing to the sweet tones of hits from the past years over the speakers in the restaurant. 

As a word of advice to those I leave: Soak up all the time you have with your classmates, and cherish the good that is present throughout this school.

For my senior thesis, I will be defending the following: Automation being integrated into the workplace yields a positive result that is beneficial to society. 

If I could have dinner with someone, I would love to have dinner with Jesus. Besides him being our Lord and Savior, He seems like an amazing person to have a conversation with and would definitely be a turning point in making my faith just so much more real.

A blessing from Mrs. Keatts: Colin, as you continue on to the next stage of the journey God has for you, I encourage you to continue to use the kindness, competitive spirit, and selflessness that He has gifted to you. Paul says it well in Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion on the day of Jesus Christ.” One example of these good works is how you demonstrate these Christian attributes on the soccer field. You have the ability to display great sportsmanship even in the most competitive of games. Whether you are a student in my class or passing me in the hallway, your smile, wave, and greeting always brighten my day and I will truly miss you next year as you venture on to college.

Luke Waterhouse

I don’t know if I have one favorite memory exactly from my time at Rockbridge, but Mr. Northup’s 7th and 8th grade Bible classes were sometimes the only thing keeping me going back then. Those were very hard years for me, and Mr. Northup’s interesting stories about how cool and strange his past life was, were always a good distraction to say the least. He’d tell us how he’d been held at gun point, how he could do handstands on skateboards, and worked on a ton of cars. I don’t have that many specific memories, but I do remember loving his class and always having the desire to learn what he taught.  

As a word of advice to those I leave behind: Find the subjects that you enjoy, enjoy them, and then also put in a little more effort to the subjects you dislike. It will balance your grade out and who knows, if you actually pay attention, you might find you actually enjoy the subject after all.  

For my thesis, I will be defending the following: The early restrictions put on conventional cars are also restricting the growth of electric cars.

Please pray for me and the whole thesis process. It took me a long time to sort through my thesis argument and actually make a useable structural map.

For fun: If I could have dinner with someone, I'd enjoy time with either Danny Devito, because he’s just a cool guy, or Mark Hamill because we have both had to deal with “Luke, I am your father” our entire lives.

A blessing from Mrs. Amy Boswell: Luke, you have impacted me greatly in the short time we have spent together in class. A day that stands out in my mind is when we discussed the differences between creatives and analytics and it dawned on you that God had imparted in you the traits of a creative. It was literally a lightbulb moment, and it was clear that you saw your life path differently after that realization. This willingness to accept your creative endowment, and to forge ahead in light of this new understanding of yourself is courageous—defined as strength in the face of pain or grief. May you navigate your life’s path with a desire to lean into your faith and to tap into that vein of courage to find your purpose and your vocation. As Winston Churchill aptly stated, “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities…because it is the quality which guarantees all others.”

Hannah Vander Wall

Throughout my twelve years at Rockbridge, I've made so many extraordinary memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Though all of them have impacted me in some way, I fiercely cherish two in particular. The first memory is of the time I received an award in sixth grade for perfectly memorizing and reciting the book of Colossians. It was incredible to see months of my hard work come to fruition, and I never could have accomplished it without the tutelage of Ms. Cawley, the help of my faithful parents, and the encouragement of my classmates. The second memory is of a special time in Grand Tour this past summer. After a journey through the cold tunnels of the Italian Catacombs, my class gathered in one of the chambers and sang the Doxology together. I've never felt such awe in my life. Having our feet collectively planted in places where different generations of Christians once stood pointed back to God's everlasting faithfulness. For thousands of years, humans emerge, change, and fade, but the Lord remains the same. That truth has become more and more evident in many areas of my life due to that moment in the Catacombs.

As a word of advice to those I leave behind: Live; don't simply exist. Life can be busy, especially at school, and it's easy to get caught up in stress as grades are released and homework is assigned. However, it's important to be present in Christ; live in the moment without anxiously getting caught up in the future. Our next breaths are never guaranteed, so savoring each one is essential. Take the time to smell the flowers; have a conversation with that quiet classmate; do your homework thoroughly and joyfully. Our lives are precious gifts from God.

For my senior thesis, I will be defending the following: In America, the rise of teen vape use could cause the greatest health crisis for their generation.

Please pray that my transition into college will go smoothly.

For fun: If I could have dinner with someone, I would choose to have dinner with my grandma on my dad's side, who passed away before I was born. She left a tangible mark on the different generations of Vander Walls that I continue to see more than twenty years after her death. I would love to hear her stories, laugh with her, and experience her gentle charisma for myself.  

A blessing from Mrs. Mandy Ball: Hannah Vander Wall, a young woman of godly character, grace in conflict, tenacious faith, unrelenting courage, and abundant kindness, my prayer for you is that the Lord would continue to develop your ability to see. More specifically, to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (Ps. 27:13)  May you always see abundant reasons for songs of praises, His goodness in your suffering, His handwriting on your life, glimpses of His beauty, and His storehouse of strength.  When your vision is dim and you cannot see, may He give you the strength to trust, hope, and pray, to cry out to Him who sees what we cannot, and remember that He has loved you with an everlasting love.  May you always feel Him holding you in the palm of His hand.

Teacher Training