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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!

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.