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FPCA grads recall fun times, look to future
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Milan Patel wipes away tears as Allison Smiley reaches for a tissue during FPCAs Saturday morning graduation ceremony at First Presbyterian Church. Mike Tige, valedictorian Brandon Standard, Brandon Stafford and Rachel Parlett also are pictured. - photo by Patty Leon

Using music to weave an analogous theme through First Presbyterian Christian Academy’s Saturday morning graduation ceremony, Valedictorian Brandon Standard explained how the school administrators’ instrumental guidance helped to compose the symphony and lyrics of this year’s graduating class.

Referencing lyrics from Carrie Underwood’s "Temporary Home," the student said, "First Presbyterian Christian Academy has been a home for some of us for 15 years and others only one year. But we can truly say it has been our home."

The commencement ceremony served as an intimate gathering as family members, friends and school officials bid a fond farewell to the class of 16 seniors.

Kiandrea Battle, Andrea Bell, Danielle Brown, Martin Causer, Margaret Dickens, Kristian Eby, Da-Vanon Felder, Cherish Fields, Jordan Horton, Jordan Johnson, Rachel Parlett, Milan Patel, Allison Smiley, Brandon Stafford, Brandon Standard and Michael Tige Jr. walked proudly into the church and sat down to reveal a surprise message. Letters pinned to the tops of their caps spelled out, "We survived FPCA 11."

Salutatorian Margaret Dickens spoke about how her journey in school changed her life starting as far back as kindergarten.

"We learned so much in kindergarten … you learned to share, how to play fair, manners etc.," she said. "Elementary school truly evolved me into a student. Middle school was a huge step up from elementary but a long way off from high school. In these three years I had my first sweetheart, my first school dance and my first time playing JV sports."

She said education and college were the last things on her mind when she entered high school.

"My junior year was around the corner and I was starting a new school — FPCA," she said.

She said it was FPCA that encouraged her to become stronger academically, allowing her to apply and be accepted to Armstrong Atlantic State University, become the captain of the varsity volleyball and soccer teams and be crowned homecoming queen and Miss FPCA.

"I am very thankful to have come to a school that allows public worship and prayer," she said, holding back tears."

FPCA’s head of school, Amy Swindell, had the seniors gather in a circle while she led the graduating class in a prayer.

"We want to thank you for each of our seniors, Father," she said, calling out each student’s name.

She prayed that the Lord would lift each student up and guide them as they stepped out into the world and started their new adventures.

"Bless them, wrap Your arms around them and always make them feel Your presence, Father," she said.

Swindell and FPCA Board Chairman David Sapp handed out diplomas and hugs. Family members cheered from the pews as the graduates seemingly transitioned from students to adults with the twist of their tassels.

"It only takes 150 milliseconds for a single reflex blink, but think about what you might miss when you blink one time," Standard said during his speech.

Referencing lyrics to the song "Blink" by Revive, which Standard said is about taking things for granted, he reminded his classmates just how quickly life flies by. "It truly seems like time has passed in a matter of seconds," he said.

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