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Every couple of weeks, we will be introducing you to a group of our seniors. Read about some of their favorite memories at Rockbridge and what they are giving thanks for lately. The words of wisdom they share for those students they leave behind are precious. May the Lord bless their future steps as they move on from our halls but not from our hearts. Congratulations to the class of 2021!

Temi Ajuwon

One of the most memorable moments from my time at Rockbridge was probably in my sophomore year when we won in the soccer finals of the MIAC Championship. It was my brother's final year, so it was pretty special seeing him and all the other seniors be able to end their high school soccer careers on a high note.

I'm thankful for my time at Rockbridge and the many people I've met over the years here.

As a word of advice to those I leave behind at Rockbridge: Cherish the time you have now. This may sound cliché, but time goes by fast, a lot faster than you think, especially when you're younger. So, make the most of it whenever you can, and do your best to make sure you can live life with few regrets.             

For my senior thesis, I will be defending the following: Genetic editing tools like CRISPR-Cas9 should be regulated better by the government.                 

For fun: If a toy company made an action figure of me, I would come with glasses and a dictionary, and I would be driving a Tesla Roadster.

A blessing from Ms. Knoll: Temi, God has blessed me through you by allowing me to witness you grow in godliness and maturity over the past five years. The three years as your teacher especially stick out because I daily saw your kind smile and witnessed your hard work and bright mind.

Heavenly Father, as Temi graduates and leaves behind these halls, I ask that you will enable him to continue in what he has learned, and that he will firmly believe these things (1 Timothy 3:14). I ask that You will make him an example of godliness before his new peers, an example "in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, [and] in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12). May he love You most of all and glorify Your name in all things. Amen.

Owen Schulze

One of the most memorable moments of my time at Rockbridge was definitely presenting my junior thesis. Due to Covid it was all virtual, but I still was able to present my speech and respond to questions from my cross examiner. The whole experience was really enjoyable, I loved researching, writing, and talking about space!        

I’m just thankful that we can be in person this school year. It has really made my senior year a lot more of a memorable experience.  

As a word of advice to those I leave behind at Rockbridge: Talk to your teachers!!! If you take the time to talk to them or even just say a passing “hello” it can go a long way. I found that by developing a relationship with them I could not only learn better in their class, but it made asking for help easier.

I will be defending the following for my senior thesis: Communities seeking to rebuild after a flood should be required to join the National Flood Insurance Program.

For fun: If a toy company an action figure of me, I would come with a jet ski, scuba gear, and a parachute.

A blessing from Mr. Nathan Griffith: From our first class together until now, I have been impressed at how easy-going and approachable you are. You have this uncanny ability to graciously welcome people into any conversation both in and out of the classroom. God has used this to refresh and encourage those around you, myself included.  I hope one day to be as good at this as you are. It is even cooler to me that God has made you someone who is so relaxed yet such a disciplined athlete. As you go on to the next chapter of your life, swimming at Grove City, learning in your classes, and growing in wisdom, may God allow you “to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Sean Fitch

Some of my favorite memories of my time at Rockbridge include hanging out backstage with my friends during concerts, discussing questions of morality both in and out of class, and joining the cross country team  for the first time as a senior.

I’m thankful that I have grown up surrounded by a community of people and a family who love God so much. It’s a larger blessing than I can appreciate, and it’s honestly a rare thing.              

A word of advice to those I leave behind at Rockbridge: Don’t be afraid to start something because you think you might fail. Hard things are that much more rewarding when you finish them.

I will be defending the following for my senior thesis: In order to safeguard phosphate reserves for future generations, governments, companies, and individuals must adopt a more sustainable use of phosphorus.      

Please pray that I would be able to forget about myself and focus on those around me. Also, that as I go on to college, I would be able to turn to God first in any unfamiliar situations.

For fun: If a toy company made an action figure of me, I would come with an acoustic guitar, some really dark chocolate, and a pair of skis. 

A blessing from Mr. Vaughn: Sean, it has been a joy and a privilege to be your philosophy teacher. When I think back over our many discussions, I especially admire your alertness to the danger of philosophical pride, the temptation to think that our partial and provisional reasoning can be the final standard of truth or be more certain than the knowledge God has graciously revealed in Scripture. I am reminded of another Christian thinker, Blaise Pascal, who wrote, “Know then, proud man, what a paradox you are to yourself. Humble yourself, weak reason; be silent, foolish nature … and learn from your Master your true condition, of which you are ignorant. Hear God.” As you leave Rockbridge, remain steadfast in trusting what God has spoken and do not depend on the reasoning and wisdom of man.

Josh Davidson

Looking back, these are some of my fondest memories of my time at Rockbridge: Presenting and defending my junior thesis on the Second Amendment, playing baseball since 9th grade, and reading to the kindergarten class this year.

Lately, I have been thankful for all of the ways that Rockbridge has prepared me for my next steps at Liberty University. I’m thankful to my parents for always encouraging me to put my best self forward in everything that I do.              

A word of advice to those I leave behind at Rockbridge: Always give your best. School may seem difficult at times but looking back, working hard is worth it.

I will be defending the following for my senior thesis: There is no moral or legal justification for rioting, but protesting is the most suitable substitute.

Please pray for a smooth transition to college and wisdom to make decisions about my future career.

For fun: If a toy company were to make an action figure of me, I would come with a baseball bat and a longboard, and I would drive a 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX.

A blessing from Mrs. Grev: Dear Josh, for 13 years it has been a joy to watch God, the architect of your life and character, build and craft you into a young man with a strong sense of right and wrong, a servant’s heart, a passion for life, and a solid sense of identity in Christ. You are willing to examine what you believe and why and admit if you are wrong. You are not afraid to speak your mind and do not shy away from a challenge. As you venture out to tread upon a new path, which at times will be rough and diverging, foot it bravely in strength and in weariness, always remembering where you came from and seeking the light of God’s calling where you are headed. My final piece of advice – “Don’t give up the ship!” May God bless you.

Sydney Diekemper

One of my favorite memories at Rockbridge is when I got to play in the varsity girl’s soccer championships, and we won! I remember everybody on the girls’ team and the guys’ team rushing onto the field in a huge huddle and celebrating. It was so much fun, and I was really proud to be a part of that team and every other sports team I have been on since middle school. My other favorite memory at Rockbridge is the New York City art trip. It was such a special trip; whenever we weren’t in a museum looking at incredible art we were walking around the city, eating great food, telling stories and laughing.

I am most thankful for the friends that I have made during my time at Rockbridge. I have formed friendships that I am confident will last me a lifetime and that is priceless to me. My friends have always supported me and been there for me from kindergarten all the way to senior year, and I am very grateful for that.

If I could give any advice to students at Rockbridge, it would be to remember that grades are not everything. Try your hardest and put in the work and know that your best is different than other peoples’ best and that is okay. Because God created us all with different strengths, that is what makes us unique. So, don’t stress out over a bad grade, just always do YOUR best to God’s glory.

I will be defending the following for my senior thesis: The government should regulate prescription drug prices in the U.S.         

Pray that I will find enough strength and motivation as I finish up senior year. Also, that God will lead me in wisdom as I make my college decision and move away from home.            

For fun: If a toy company made an action figure of me, the two accessories I would come with are a cup of coffee, and another cup of coffee, and my vehicle would be a little blue jeep.

A Blessing from Mrs. Lytikainen: Syd, when you burst into the world with your unexpected laughter, God used you to breathe refreshing life into your family.  As you grew, God took us all by surprise with your gracefulness, radiance, and depth. You are graceful:  You move like a poem, and yet freely like prose.  You give others the grace to be themselves and accept them without judgement. You are radiant:  You are beautiful and yet unaware of the natural, refreshing beauty that God shines out of you.  You draw others in and make them smile simply by being yourself. You are full of depth: You are the girl that looks deeply into the hearts of others and truly sees who they are and what they need. May your insight and grace continue to mirror the Father’s love. You are a piece of His heart.

Kait Atwood

I remember the time when I first came to Rockbridge. I was moving from out of state, so I didn’t have a chance to shadow before coming to school. Since I had never met anyone, a bunch of the girls from my grade planned a little party to get to know me. This is one of my favorite memories because it made me feel so welcomed. I remember following Sarah Grev around because she was tall like me. I remember playing basketball in the pool with my soon-to-be classmates. I was nervous that I would stand out as the new girl in a small school, but at that moment, all I felt a sense of community I had never felt before. Today, I still feel that sense of community with my classmates. I am glad that I can know each person by name, and I love growing each friendship every year.

Right now is a very challenging time preparing for college, and I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for my parents. I could not have navigated this year by myself. They have sacrificed countless hours to help me process all of the new information. For 18 years they have faithfully pointed me towards Christ. They have loved others around them, and so I see the active love of Christ. They have served others around them, and so I see the service of Christ. They are a testimony of Him, and I have seen this. Thank you Mami and Papi. Your actions in Christ have been the best gift to me because it has shown me that I want to serve and love like Him. I am very thankful for my sister, Madeline, during my last year with her. She has always been my perfect partner in life. She is patient when I am not. Through every move, she is my constant friend. This year, knowing that I will have to move by myself, she calms me, and I know that she will always be my sister and my best friend.

As a word of advice to those remaining at Rockbridge: Enjoy your days!!! The repetitive tests and homework can make the week squish together. You can fight against that by looking at the bigger picture and living each day with a purpose. By bigger picture I mean your purpose on earth, glorifying God, being a light in this world, serving others, loving actively, etc. By living each day with purpose, I mean doing things like smiling every day, saying hi to your family at home, giving a high-five. Really, I mean doing things that are small, every-day goals that ultimately embody what it means to love and serve others near you.

I am researching about education for refugees. I will be defending the need for mentors in the public school, which will help the needs of refugees, our communities, and global refugee crisis.

Please pray that I will always have faith in God. Even when times are hard, pray that I will remember God’s promises and know I am being forged into a stronger warrior for him. Also pray for peace during times of change.  

For fun: If a toy company were to make an action figure of me, I would come with a textbook and passport as my accessories and for my “vehicle” I would be come with a stand-up paddleboard.

A blessing from Mrs. Ward: Kait, your cheerful spirit is just one of the many ways you reflect Christ’s love into this broken world. Another is the way you view our Lord’s creation, with a mix of heartfelt awe and delight. You have inspired me with that in so many ways! Cling fast to that outlook; may your joy be a beacon to others who study the sciences, drawing them to Him. As the Lord uses you as a leader in the military, may He bless you with holy confidence that comes from being rooted in His Word. Live out the calling of Micah 6:8, “…and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” As you walk with Him, I pray that you continue to joyously accept His will for your life.

Leah Ball

Some of my favorite moments of my time at Rockbridge were winning the soccer championship against Calverton in 10th and 11th grades, the 2019-2020 basketball season, and the senior semi-formal dinner.

I am so thankful for the fellowship I have been able to enjoy at Rockbridge. From the parents to the students to the teachers, I have been surrounded by people who are full of laughter, kindness, and encouragement. I am also very thankful for my family. It has been a crazy year in every sense of the word, and I am thankful I was able to spend it with them.   

As a word of advice to those I leave behind: In those stressful times, you know what I'm talking about, musical season, finals week, orals week, do not lose sight of the upward call of God. The goal is not to get to college, the goal is not perfect test grades, the goal is not to finish the week ahead, but rather the goal is to enjoy and please the Lord. It is so easy to forget, so I would also advise everyone at Rockbridge to find friends who will encourage you in your walk with the Lord. Invest in those friends early on, and I know from personal experience you will be so thankful that you did. 

For my senior thesis, I will be defending to following: God purposed for Christians to use fear only for immediate reactions and for the fear of the Lord.

Please pray for my transition from the small, Christian community at Rockbridge to a large, secular college. In that transition, please pray that I would quickly find a community of Christian friends among my peers and that I would be a light for the gospel among my unbelieving friends.        

For fun: If a toy company made an action figure of me, I would come with a burger (with bacon, pimento cheese, and a fried green tomato) and a copy of Stepping Heavenward, and I would drive a light blue 1957 Mercedes Gullwing.

A Blessing from Mrs. Grev: “I breathed a song into the air, it fell to earth, I knew not where; for who has sight so keen and strong, that it can follow the flight of song? Long afterward. . . the song, from beginning to end, I found again in the heart of a friend.”—Longfellow. Leah, you sing a joyous song that impacts lives. Your song, its path unknown, will be found in the hearts of us all. God has sight of the “flight of your song”. You are a faithful friend, smile at the success of others, and remind them of who they are in Christ. You put faith over the world. You glean until the end of the harvests in class and on the field. Commit your way to the Lord and your righteousness will shine like the dawn in the world.

Clare Touhey

One of my favorite memories of my time at Rockbridge would have to be the senior dinner we had this  past fall. It was so nice to be able to come together as a grade, to get dressed up, and have a fun night out together! That is the most distinct memory I can think of, but so many more come in the form of the small moments my classmates and I have shared over the years. Whether it was the encouragement we gave each other before a test or a presentation, the outdoor class discussions that just kept going, or the endless jokes in homeroom, those are the moments that I hold dearest.

Right now, I'd say that I am giving thanks for all the people who have made it possible for me to get to this point. I am thankful for my family who has seen me through all my stressing about schoolwork with patience that I can only hope to emulate. I am thankful for my teachers who have pushed me to think critically about my beliefs while never failing to lead me back to the source. Lastly, my classmates; I am thankful for all the conversations we have had, all the advice you've given, and the love you show me every day. Thank you.

The best advice I can think to give would be this: Try your best to stop comparing yourself to others. In school, it is almost natural to compare yourself to the classmates you think do better grade-wise or are more athletic than you. What we forget is that these comparisons rob us of joy and create barriers to separate us. It is true that some of your classmates may be more gifted than you in some areas, but that's alright. It's alright because you have your own unique set of gifts to work with. Comparison only breeds a disdain for one another and once you begin to focus on that you fail to see the beauty in those around you. Look for what you have in common instead, and you'll realize that there is a unity even in your differences. Oh, and one more thing, go spend time with your friends, do the thing you think you can't do, the schoolwork can wait. You'll always have schoolwork, but your time with your classmates is limited.

My senior thesis I will be defending is: The most effective way to help sweatshop workers is not by boycotting sweatshop goods or instituting trade sanctions, but by fostering factors that contribute to economic development.

I would love prayer for peace of mind about my plans for next year; that I would be content with whatever is in store for me with the knowledge that God's plan for me is so much greater than my own.

For fun: If a toy company made an action figure of me, I would probably come with a matcha latte, a pair of pink floral boots, and a white Tesla Model S,

A Blessing from Mrs. Keatts: Clare, God has gifted you with a servant’s heart and an abundance of kindness, compassion, and love to share with everyone that you meet. You pour your heart into everything you do. Whether it involves following procedures in a lab experiment, tutoring a grammar student, or competing in a mock trial event, your teachers, peers and coaches know that you will 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.

Tim Tatterson

One of my most memorable highlights from my time at Rockbridge is yearbook class. The random conversations and the weird stories make the end of the day much more enjoyable.

I’m thankful to be alive and healthy and have the opportunity to grow in knowledge and faith.

For those I leave behind at Rockbridge, my word of advice is to sleep more and homework less!

For my senior thesis I will be defending the following: Corporate prayer should be consistently practiced by the church.        

For fun: If a toy company made an action figure of me, the vehicle I would come with is a Sherp N 1200 and the accessory I would come with is a MK-11 rifle.

A blessing from Miss Godfrey: Timmy, you have become a thoughtful young man after God’s heart. I have enjoyed seeing you consider how your faith intersects with your daily life. I am grateful for the combination of humor and honesty that you bring with you wherever you go. I am especially grateful for your leadership and creativity in Yearbook. May the Lord guide you in your next steps and be your strength and confidence. I am reminded of Peter’s words, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Pet. 5: 10-11) I pray that as you follow Christ you will be able to see how he has been working to restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

Leah Persons

My favorite memory of my time at Rockbridge was World War II Day in ninth grade. As a grade, we were able to fellowship together at the Belvoir manor house, eat Mission Barbeque, dress up in 1940s attire, and shoot blanks from World War II model rifles. I even had the opportunity to present my speech on the Battle of the Atlantic to the entire grade. It was just a great time of fellowship and fun.         

I am very thankful for the opportunity to attend Rockbridge in person this year and be able to still read to the Kindergartners. I am also extremely thankful for my supportive family, friends, and teachers who have helped me through the stressful season of college applications.

Finally, I am thankful for the medical doctors, nurses, pharmacists, scientists, and health care workers who have helped treat the sick and dying, and have been able to find a vaccine and distribute it out to the nation and the world at large.             

As a word of advice to those I leave behind: Enjoy time with your friends and classmates. Over the years, you will create bonds with one another, sharing memories and funny moments. Enjoy those times of fellowship and treasure them before you go off somewhere else and have the opportunity to create new friends and memories.   

I will be defending the following for my senior thesis: The U.S. should partially decouple with China in order to protect its economy.    

Please pray for peace and wisdom as I am deciding about where to go to college this next year. Please also pray for the safety and health of my family during this pandemic.            

For fun: If a toy a company made an action figure of me, the two accessories I would come with are a miniature red golden doodle and a copy of The Book Thief, the vehicle I would drive would be a white Porsche 911 Carrera S convertible.

A blessing from Mrs. Krmpotich: Leah, what a blessing you have been to your classmates and teachers throughout your time at Rockbridge! It was a delight to see your love of literature blossom, fed by the fruit of your diligence since you were in grammar school. The Lord has given you many gifts and talents, but your many successes here are also the result of your godly character and desire to take every thought captive. You remind me of Psalm 1 in that you are "like a tree planted by streams of water that yields it's fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that you do, you prosper." I pray that you would continue to cling to Christ and find your delight in Him.

Ruby Furniss

I have had many memorable experiences from my time at Rockbridge, but some of the highlights have been being on the soccer team and winning two championships, participating in multiple musicals and variety shows, and the art trip to New York City last year. When I look back at the last 12 years, what stands out to me is the day to day things. I will really treasure the time I was able to spend with my classmates, despite all of the things we have not been able to do this year. I will miss them all next year, and I can't wait to see what God has in store for all of them.     

I am grateful that we have been blessed to stay in school for the majority of the year, and for our teachers for working so hard despite the challenges we've faced this year.            

If I could give any advice to students at Rockbridge, it would be to be grateful for what you have. This year was not at all how I envisioned my senior year, and it has made me all the more grateful for the memories and experiences I was able to have here. Remember that these years fly by and surround yourself with people who encourage you!            

I will be defending the following for my senior thesis: The US government should require businesses to disclose information to the public about the use of forced labor within their supply chains.            

Please pray for me as I make college decision and finish up my senior year. Also, please pray for my family's move to Tennessee this summer.             

For fun: If a toy company made an action figure of me, the two accessories I would come with are a warm blanket and a cup of sweet tea, and my vehicle would be a big white pickup truck.

A blessing from Mrs. Salada: Ruby, you are such a quiet, steady presence wherever you happen to be: running on the soccer field, diligently working in the classroom, playing in the midst of the violins in orchestra, portraying a pirate or mermaid on the musical stage, working on the fine details of a painting in art class, or amongst your friends at lunch.  You have been a vital part in so many aspects of the Rockbridge community these last 13 years!  We will certainly feel the lack of your sharp mind and quick wit as you head down south.   As you go, may God grant you a deep, reliant faith in “...Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord…”

Luke Sweeney

One of my favorite memories of my time at Rockbridge is the 2019 homecoming soccer game. The specific moment was the celebration after a goal. After the go ahead goal against a team that was more skilled than us, Christopher Crane and I ran toward each other to celebrate, but in our unbridled joy and excitement we forgot to slow down, and the hug ended up being slightly painful. It was great game that I hope to remember for a longtime.           

I am thankful for the snow we had this winter. It was beautiful and  canceled school a few times, giving me much needed rest. Also, it was fun to play in.   

To those I leave behind at Rockbridge: Evergreen is a large building, so my advice is: don't get lost and carry a map and compass everywhere you go. On a serious note, my advice is to do extracurricular activities. You might think your class is super small, and you know everyone, but when you play a sport, join a club or do the variety show or musical, then you will get to know your classmates in a different and an even better way, then you could from just class together.              

For my senior thesis, I will be defending the following: Nuclear energy is a viable source of energy that the United States should continue to pursue. 

Prayer request: I am asking God to open the right doors for me as I prepare for college. I want him to guide me to a place that would be best for me. The place that would glorify Him, not me.

For fun: If a toy company made an action figure of me, I would be wearing a swimsuit and a giant pair of mittens. The vehicle I would come with would be the helicopter hat from inspector gadget.    

A blessing from Mr. Vaughn: “Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars.” (Proverbs 9:1-2) Luke, it has been immensely rewarding having a student who not only trusts in the authority of God’s Word but who also sees philosophical reflection and the pursuit of wisdom as necessary to living out a mature faith in Christ. I will have especially fond memories of your enthusiasm for debate and the levity and laughter you brought to the Debate elective with your hilarious bull-riding topics. As you leave Rockbridge, continue the pursuit of wisdom, knowing that if you “prize her highly,… she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her.” (Proverbs 4:8)

Sarah Daly

The most memorable thing about Rockbridge to me has not been any single event but the people who I get to be around every day. The little moments of laughing at a joke in class, talking during lunch, and pausing to pray have shaped my time at Rockbridge and will be what I always remember most.

I’m thankful for the teachers who not only work hard to teach us their subjects, but also invest in us as people. You have shaped the way I think through your teaching, and you have shaped who I am through your example. I’m thankful for my classmates who have challenged me, inspired me, encouraged me, laughed with me, put up with me, and most importantly pointed me to Jesus for the last six years. Each one of you is amazing! I’m thankful for my family who have loved me through all the ups and downs and victories and defeats and laughter and tears of the last 18 years. Thank you for loving me even when it’s ugly!

As a word of advice to those I leave behind: Don't forget to look up. Your schoolwork and sports and friendships and extracurriculars are all good things to focus your time and attention on, but they should all serve something greater. Remember that everything you do should be an act of joyful service to our great Lord. Again and again, I’ve acted as if my next paper or test or meet were the most important thing, and again and again that hasn’t gone well. The paper on its own becomes drudgery, the speech on its own becomes a stressful fear of public embarrassment, the meet on its own becomes a measure of my value. Don’t make that mistake. When Jesus is most important, everything else can be life-giving. The paper can become a chance to learn how to communicate and think, the speech can become a chance to bless your classmates with truth, the meet or game can become a chance to give Jesus your best efforts. The essays and speeches and tests and everything else will still be hard, but they will have a purpose, because they are for a Person. Look to that Jesus. He is everything.         

I will be defending the following for my thesis: The imprecatory psalms ought to instruct Christians to pray for God to glorify himself by driving sinners to repentance, destroying his enemies, and delivering his people.         

For fun: If a toy company made an action figure of me, I would come with a lunch box, a swim bag, and a fully solar-powered car. A lunch box to always have food, a swim bag because I’m almost always either going to or coming from practice, and a solar-powered car because I drive a lot and I hate buying gas (and I also may have been late to school a couple of times because I forgot that my car would need gas).

A blessing from Mrs. Daly: Sarah, your servant-hearted kindness and joyful laughter will be missed, in the classrooms of Rockbridge and in our home.  As you have grown into a young lady ready for this next step of college, what I have appreciated most is seeing how devoted you are to God’s Word and how tenderly you care for your friends.  May those also be the hallmarks of your life in college! 

Lord, guide Sarah in this next adventure.  Direct her in your paths of righteousness—in academics, in athletics, in relationships.  May every success and every disappointment draw her nearer to you. Thank you for the circuitous path to her college, and thank you that you likewise have a plan for her future, no matter how circuitous it might seem.  Help her to trust in your goodness each step of the way!

Clara Strines

Some of my most memorable moments are having a snowball fight with my classmates in-between apologetics and rhetoric and presenting my junior thesis. I think presenting my junior thesis was so impactful because I proved to myself that I could accomplish a difficult task and do so well.

Recently, I've been grateful for friends who give me the freedom to be myself and love me for who I am.

As a word of advice to the younger Rockbridge students, I say that although the curriculum can be rigorous, lean into the hard work, and you will find that it prepares you for life outside of class by building habits such as diligence, patience, and understanding. I would also encourage students to be in the present and enjoy time with their friends as much as possible.             

For my senior thesis, I will be defending the following: The United States should take steps that enable them to process more plastic waste on its own soil. 

Please pray for me that I would have diligence when it comes to my senior thesis and for clarity on college and degree decisions. 

For fun: If a toy company made an action figure of me, I would drive a McLaren 720S and my two accessories would be instant ramen and my glasses (so I can see).

A blessing from Mr. Head: Still waters run deep. Clara, that is a truth I saw illustrated over and over again in the years I taught you: yours is not the loudest voice in the room, but your writing was often deepest. What you do in writing essays about books is also what I pray you do in the essay (remember: the word comes from the French for, “an attempt”!) of your life: to think deeply about what the Lord has done and given you, and then to shape your words and actions in accordance with a profound understanding of His love… and how He has called you to love others. May your depths continue to be filled with the fountain of His abiding love, and may those waters be spilled out on those around you.

Emily Lawing

I will never forget winning our soccer championship game in the fall of my junior year. I loved playing with my teammates; I really felt that we played to the best of our ability and to the glory of God. I have much respect and love for those soccer players. I have loved the field trips that my class got to go on, too. I know I will always remember the awesome time we had at Williamsburg!

I am thankful for so many things, but I would say over the past few months I have been grateful for my parents and the time I have gotten to spend with them as the last kid at home. They have done so much for me; I deeply admire their work ethic and godly character.          

Younger students, I encourage you to work hard in school, but to always remember why it is important to work hard. We should work hard to bring glory to God first and foremost, not to ourselves. I have had to learn this as well, but keeping this in mind gives me a goal that I love to work towards.

For my senior thesis, I will be defending the following: Immigrant detention centers should ensure fair representation for immigrants by reforming the accuracy of record-keeping, access to legal counsel, and accountability of legal representation.            

I would appreciate prayers as I go to college in a few months. Please pray that I would develop my faith further and find a community of believers that help me to do this.         

For fun: If I had an action figure made of me, I would probably be holding a chai tea latte and be driving a black Porsche cayman.

A blessing from Mr. Lawing: Dearest Emily, my favorite image of you is you in the passenger seat on our way home from school, bobbing your head to a High School Musical song, throwing your hair around in huge swirls, and “singing your heart out” until your voice aches and your lungs nearly burst! That image captures the essence of who you are. The paradox of you is a serious, organized, disciplined, thoughtful young woman who at the very same time is a carefree, joyous, radiant, absolutely spectacular celebration of life! God has woven these qualities together in you in such a beautiful way. As you go forth from my heart, it is with the sincerest plea that God would take this wonderful gift of you and bless and saturate the world with joy and life! I love you dearly. Go get ‘em Tiger!

Mikaela Culp

One of my favorite memories of my time at Rockbridge was when I was in photography, we took a field trip to the National Portrait Gallery in D.C.. At Rockbridge, we spent most of our times studying the classics. At the museum, there was the opportunity to observe art that was both from past centuries and of modern times. There was also a beautiful orchid exhibit there that I really enjoyed. As we ate lunch, the flowers filled the large hall.              

As for gratitude, good health is always something we should be thankful for, but especially now, I am thankful that those close to me have remained healthy.

A word to those I leave behind at Rockbridge: Always try your best and be proud of what you accomplish.             

My senior thesis I will be defending is: Public relations is an ethical profession in which Christians can freely participate.             

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)  Mikaela, when I read this verse, it reminds me of your genuine spirit.  Whether you are a student in my class or passing me in the hallway, your smile and greeting always brightens my day.  I will truly miss your kind and gentle nature as well as your readiness to laugh. I pray that you continue to grow in Christ. May you be a blessing to the new friends who you will meet and the professors 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.

Inga Sohmer

One of my favorite memories of my time at Rockbridge is when I got to play in the girls’ varsity soccer championship in 2019 and we won!

I am beyond grateful that I get to see my classmates and teachers in person. It is such a blessing since most students do not have this privilege right now.             

As a word of wisdom to those I leave behind, I would say: Grades do not define you!! Keep your head up and put the effort in, but do not freak out over a bad grade. I have, and it didn’t get me anywhere further in life. Move on from it and learn from it, keeping your worth in Jesus! 

I will be defending the following for my senior thesis: Drug testing should be required for all pregnant women.                          

For fun: If a toy company made an action figure of me, the two accessories I would come with are my water bottle and a can of olives and my “vehicle” would be a unicycle.

A blessing from Mrs. Salada: Inga, you are sunshine-in-a-human, a pep-talk-in-a-person.  You are completely honest and willing to say what needs to be said.  You are quick to encourage, ready to commiserate, ever seeking to make comfortable those around you.  You have a gift.  You ARE a gift.  As you near graduation, I pray that there will be someone to fill in the gap you leave behind.  That sunshine-y, pep-talk-y, encourage-y gap. Whatever community gets the blessing of having you will benefit beyond measure.  Our loss will be their immeasurable gain.  In Ephesians 2:10 we read “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  May you always walk in the path that the Lord has set before you, clinging to Him at all times no matter the circumstances.

Marika Skwarek

Some of my fondest memories of my time at Rockbridge are of my times hanging out with other staff kids after school.       

I am so thankful that I get to talk to my teachers in person.

As a word of advice to those younger students I leave behind: Talk to your teachers even if you don't know what question you are trying to ask. They will still be able to help you.    

I will be defending the following for my senior thesis: The number of charter schools in the United States should increase in order to provide beneficial education opportunities to students in impoverished districts.                         

A blessing from Mrs. Crawford: Marika, you possess “the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (I Peter 3:4).  It has been a great joy to teach you and observe the persistence, resolve, and dogged determination you devote to your calling as a student.  You have truly worked as “unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:23).  I have cheered your academic successes, been encouraged by your growth in confidence, and marveled at your artistic talent, but I am most struck by the godly character, warmth, and humility you demonstrate each day.  May you continue to bring the beauty and gentleness of Christ to the places He will call you in the months and years ahead, knowing He has equipped you with quiet strength and perseverance for every good work.

Lera Wilson

My favorite memory at Rockbridge definitely has to be playing basketball. Specifically, Spirit Day last year. The energy of the crowd was incredible, and as a team we played one of our best games. Not having a season this year has been hard, but I’m thankful for all the memories I was able to make during my three years on the team.             

I appreciate the hard work of the administration and teachers for making this abnormal year feel as normal as possible. My classmates have also been an incredible support as we all navigate this unprecedented senior year together.

To those I leave behind at Rockbridge:  Be intentional about making memories. One of the things that has gotten me through missing out on a lot of the festivities of senior year are my memories of those events from past years. Even if you wouldn’t typically tryout for a sports team, go to a school dance, or participate in the variety show, do it! Those memories are irreplaceable. Make them while you have the chance.            

I will be defending the following for my senior thesis: College athletes on scholarship should be allowed to unionize. 

Please continue to pray that the Lord will grant me a spirit of contentment. This year has been filled with many disappointments that have weighed heavily on my spirit. The Lord has blessed me with incredible friends and family that have brought so much joy to my life this year, but at times I still struggle to cope with all the things I’ve lost.         

 For fun: If a toy company made an action figure of ME, I'd come with a basketball and rose gold Beats headphones, and I’d drive a blue 2007 Honda Accord.

A blessing from Mrs. Ward:  What can I say to the student who honed my teaching skills just by the expressions on her face? It has been a joy to see you grow into the godly young woman you are today—one who stands firm for her beliefs; one who speaks the truth with the boldness and conviction of the Spirit, but also with the lovingkindness of Christ. God has blessed you with great talent and great ambition, and I know that He will use you for the glory of his kingdom. I pray that you will look to the Lord, and Him alone, for your strength. In the world, we will have tribulation, but take heart, for Christ has overcome the world. (John 16:33) May that assurance comfort and keep you in both weeping and rejoicing, and may the Lord’s blessing be upon you. 

Sarah Grev

My favorite memory from Rockbridge was the basketball season of my junior year. During the season, our team had such a special bond that is still strong to this day. I loved going to practice every day and spending time with my teammates and developing life-long friendships. It was also really exciting to reach the league championship game that season.              

I am so grateful that God allowed us to have school in person this year so that I can be with my classmates for my senior year. I am also very thankful for the strength that God has given me to persevere through this year. I have been downhearted sometimes, but God always comes alongside and strengthens me.    

A word to those I leave behind at Rockbridge: Be grateful for and during every trial that you face. Whether it is at school, home, or out in the world, be grateful for every trial and use each trial as an opportunity to learn and grow closer to God. The more grateful you are, even for the little things, the easier it will be to get through the tough times.       

I will be defending the following for my senior thesis: Restoring the fundamental role of fire in the environment is the best way to prevent severe wildfires.

I would really appreciate prayer for my knee. I have torn my ACL three times in the past two years, and I just had surgery for the third tear in November 2020. I still have a while to go before I am fully recovered. I would just ask for prayer for continued strength and positivity as well as a smooth and quick recovery. 

For fun: If a toy company made an action figure of ME, my accessories would be a knee brace and a coffee mug and my vehicle would be a couch that I could drive around.

A blessing from Mrs. Grev: It has been one of life’s greatest blessings to be able to raise, teach, and see you grow into a strong, beautiful young woman. In one challenge after another for one so young, you are an example of faith, perseverance, and strength. For this, you will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him. My prayer: Father, thank you for the ways You have blessed and provided for Sarah. Confirm in her heart that You alone are sufficient for all her needs. May the Holy Spirit help her to know this even in her greatest weaknesses and struggles to come. Be her shield, guard her course, and protect her way as she goes into the world as an ambassador for Your Kingdom. Amen. I love you, Sarah!

Chloe DuBois

Some of my favorite memories of my time at Rockbridge: One memorable moment happened the summer before 10th grade. I'd just moved to the area, and a couple of my future friends invited me to dinner so I could meet them before school started. Everyone was overwhelmingly welcoming. I immediately felt included and important, even though I was new. Another special moment happened in 11th grade, when I first shared my novel with the same friend group. Since then, they've never failed to check up on my progress, read my rough scribbles, or even sit back and let me ramble about it. You know you have amazing friends when they're just as excited about your writing as you are! For me, those moments (among others) really revealed the Christ-like love in the Rockbridge community.              

During this difficult year, I've been learning to give thanks for the everyday moments that make life beautiful. Sometimes, it's as simple as a kind word from a friend, a breathtaking sentence in a literature book, or a warm breeze wafting through the windows. Before COVID, I never thought of gratitude as important. But this year, it's been a life-raft, buoying me up in a sea of disappointments. Also, when I'm discouraged, it helps to fix my eyes on Heaven. Someday, we won't live in a sick, suffering, socially-broken world. God will make all things new—forever.    

A word to those I leave behind at Rockbridge: Don't take Rockbridge for granted! I know you hear it often, but it's true. We are so blessed to learn in a community where Christ is preeminent, where teachers love and support us, and where we are challenged academically and spiritually. Most of our peers don't have this education, so make the most of it!     

I will be defending the following for my senior thesis: Christians should embrace imaginative literature because imaginative literature is a valuable means of promoting God's truth.   

Please pray for wisdom in general, especially concerning my college decision. Pray for peace and perseverance as I tackle the last few months of senior year. Also, please pray for God's will regarding my writing—specifically, that he would use my abilities to glorify his name and further his kingdom.             

For fun: If a toy company made an action figure of ME, I'd come with an authentic medieval broadsword, my notebook hoard, and Fledge (the winged horse from Narnia—because hey, who doesn't want a winged talking horse for your best friend?).            

A blessing from Ms. Godfrey: Chloe, it has been a privilege to see your love of literature and storytelling over the years. I thank God for bringing you to Rockbridge.  May God’s truth always be brighter and more beautiful to you than anything else. As Hopkins says of God in his poem “Pied Beauty”: “He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: / Praise him.”

I’m excited to see how God will use you in His story of redemption in ways beyond what you can imagine. May God provide rich community for you; as Lewis writes, “Two are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction.”  I pray that you will take deep friendships from your time at Rockbridge and that God will provide new friendships too in the next season of your life.

Emma McLaughlin

Looking back, some of my favorite memories of my time here at Rockbridge are winning the girls’ varsity soccer championship in 2019, all the history parades and then the soccer finales afterwards, the 10th grade field trip to D.C., and the Veteran's Day ceremonies every year.

I am really grateful for the time I have been able to spend with my class especially in the past couple months. I think not being able to hang out with my friends because of COVID has made me treasure seeing them more, and I look for every opportunity I can to spend time with them.

There are two things I would like to share with those I leave behind: First, God has got it. He has a plan for you far more amazing than what you could ever think of. When things don't work out like you hope they will, it's okay because there is something much better in store for you. Second, it's okay if you are not ready to do something yet. Two years ago, I was intimidated by the idea of learning calculus and going to college but now, calculus is fun, and I am super excited for college. But now, when I think about getting a job after college or buying a house, that intimidates me. I have realized though, that it’s okay, I am just not ready for that yet, and when the times comes I will be more mature and able to handle it.

I will be defending the following for my senior thesis: The Temporary Aid for Needy Families Program (a welfare program) should be abolished.

Please pray for strength to stick to my beliefs and grow in them as I go to college and that I would be a light for Christ.

For fun: If a toy company made action figure of ME, I would come with a foam roller and a very warm coat, and I would drive a 2009 red Toyota Sienna minivan :).

A blessing from Ms. Knoll: Emma, for four years you have been a constant encourager. For four years you have made a point of saying, "Hi Miss Knoll," whenever you see me. Those few words and the accompanying smile mean so much to me! I loved teaching and coaching you, and I will miss your presence next year.

Father God, bless Emma as she leaves these halls to enter new ones. May You strengthen her faith by Your power. Fill her with Your Spirit. Make her a beacon of Light in a dark world. May Emma be a blessing to her new teammates and coaches, and provide her with godly friends. I pray the prayer of Paul for the Ephesians, ultimately that Emma's life will be for Your glory (Ephesians 3:14-21).

Luke Lytikainen

Some of my favorite memories of my time at Rockbridge:  I’ll always remember junior year when our class won Captains Cup with the Ho! Ho! Ho! Radio Show!  Josh Davidson and I performed as the co-hosts, Temi Ajuwon was the soundboard guy, and Owen Schultz was the trivia guy. I also loved being a part of all the musical performances at Rockbridge and participating in choir and the variety shows.  

I'm very thankful for my brothers, sister, cousins, aunt and uncle, mom and dad, and grandparents. I’ve really grown closer to each of them lately.

A word of advice for those I leave behind at Rockbridge:  Focus on your schoolwork, try your best to the glory of God, and always remember that friends are even more important than school work.

I will be defending the following for my senior thesis: Fairy tales should be read by children.

For fun: If a toy company were to make an action figure of ME, I would come with a sword and ride a big wolf.

A blessing from Mrs. Ball: Luke, you have brought so much joy to this community through your time on the stage as King Triton, a chimney sweep, or in a boys' band and in your daily walk as you bless everyone around you with your cheerful heart.  It has been a pleasure to teach you for the last ten years.  As you prepare to take the next step in your journey, I pray that you always feel the nearness of Christ’s presence, particularly when the path before you seems unclear.  May He write His Word indelibly on your heart and bring it to your mind often. May His richest blessing follow you all the days of your life and you always say with the psalmist, “All my springs of joy are in you.” Ps. 87:7

Katie Trovato

Some of my favorite memories of my time at Rockbridge include: Winning the 2019 girls' varsity soccer championship. It was so great being a part of a team that worked really hard together, and then winning the championship was just so fun and exciting. It was especially great because I had upperclassmen on the team still who were my good friends, and it was great to win the championship with them. I also just love looking back and remembering the days at school when my classmates and I just had a fun time together, laughing at some random thing or joking with the teachers. Receiving the Junior Thesis Award was also really rewarding. It was great to be recognized for putting a lot of hard work into my paper.

I'm thankful for the education I have been provided at Rockbridge. I really appreciate the teachers at Rockbridge and how they genuinely care about their students.                

I would say to the other younger students at Rockbridge: Be diligent in school and try to enjoy the academic part of it, but also find ways to have fun apart from school. Spend time with friends and family and make the best of your time in high school. And remember that when things get difficult, you are fully equipped to face the challenges ahead of you even though they are daunting. So just remind yourself that you can do it!   

I will be defending the following for my senior thesis: In order to ensure that communities feel safe, police officers must be held more accountable by courts of law, law departments, and communities.

Please pray that I would be able to continue to grow in my faith through the end of high school and into college and that I would finish out my senior year well academically and enjoy the rest of my time at Rockbridge.

A blessing from Mr. Lawing: “What a precious find is a Woman of Valor! Her worth is beyond rubies… She opens her hand to the needy and extends her hand to the poor... she is clothed with strength and splendor.” Katie, I treasure the privilege of sharing in your growth and maturity these many years here at Rockbridge. This verse, from Proverbs 31, aptly articulates some of the unique qualities I see in you. You are a strong, vibrant, independent young woman who is sensitive, tender, and kind. Your heart is turned towards the weak and oppressed and you are zealous in pursuit of Godly justice where injustice has occurred. May God be pleased to use and magnify these qualities as you serve Him and the gospel of our Lord Jesus. Do justice, Katie, and love mercy, and most importantly, walk humbly with thy God.