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GCA holds drive-thru graduation ceremony

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GRACE Christian Academy held a drive-thru graduation ceremony for its Class of 2020 on Friday.

The 20 seniors received their diplomas without shaking hands with their principal, school officials, and teachers as part of the social-distancing protocol.

The ceremony started at 4 p.m.  in the school parking lot. The seniors remained in their vehicles and only went out with their parents and guardians when their names were called. They then returned to their vehicles.

Instead of applauding, the drivers honked their horns.

Arvin S. Dayao is the valedictorian while Lyzelle D. Castillo is the salutatorian.

From left, Arvin S. Dayao and Lyzelle D. Castillo.

Their speeches were pre-recorded and uploaded on GCA’s Facebook page Friday evening.

“It is hard not to find a memorable moment — the exciting pep rallies every year, the vibrant mission conventions with the study body representing their countries, the Fun Days at the end of each semester, and the Christmas programs that brought joy to our hearts and smile to our faces. I am going to really miss these moments,” Dayao said in his valedictory address.

Dayao, who will be attending Colby College in Maine to study biology, recalled that he had trouble comprehending assigned literary works and language lessons, which made his middle school and high school life challenging.

“Do I whine and give up, acting as if I have reached my limit, or do I actively utilize this hardship as motivation to improve through practice and an optimistic mindset? Adversities come and go, they ultimately shape, cultivate, and form who we are through learning from adversities,” he said.

He encouraged his classmates to see the value in hardships. “Do not make your troubles a roadblock, but make them your map. Have these adversities guide you to growth, introspection, and maturity. These obstacles help you find your flaws, skills, talents, places for improvement, and spiritual comfort in finding God’s purpose for you.”

As for Castillo, she said the drive-thru graduation ceremony amid a pandemic was something she never expected. “But I am genuinely grateful that our graduation was not held on Google hangouts, Zoom, and most importantly, not on Canvas,” she said.

Castillo will attend the University of Portland and study biology. She encouraged her classmates “to be a curious beginner that seizes every opportunity that comes our way.”

She described her time with GCA as one of her “greatest journeys.”

Castillo was in seventh grade when she transferred to GCA from a Philippine school.

“Hearing my classmates converse fluently in English made me realize that I was, indeed, in a new environment, and adapting to it was not as easy as I thought it would be…. I exerted more effort in learning English as I embarked on my journey in learning a new language,” she said, adding that “a little progress each day added up to big results.”

GCA principal Beth Ann Nunez advised the members of the Class of 2020 to have “spirits of generosity, kindness, and love to those around you and to the people that God’s takes you to.

The awardees

Arvin S. Dayao – Valedictorian

Lyzelle D. Castillio – Salutatorian

Ao Feng Zheng – Third Graduating with Honors, Eagle Award

Seoing Beom Song – Fourth Graduating with Honors, Joseph-Servant Awardee

Tae Yong Kim – Fifth Graduating with Honors

Kaydie Claude Aquino – Diligence Award

Jeriell Kim Francisco – Christian Disciple Award

Seijin Kim – Citizenship Award

Annika Louise Mafnas – Barnabas-Encourager Award

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