The 25 graduating seniors of Carroll Christian Schools walked across the stage on Friday night during their commencement ceremony.
The graduation was held in the auditorium where graduates heard from class of 1986 alum Mark Campbell, who was this year’s speaker. Within the class of 2021 audience was Valeria Valencia, who Principal Matt Reisberg called a great student. He said she is from Colombia and did not speak much English when she came to America her freshman year.
“Now, she is excelling academically and socially,” he said. “Had it not been for the initial language barrier, she would have been even closer to potentially being the Valedictorian.”
Reisberg said Valencia received the rare honor of being added to the school’s wall of “Iron Patriots,” which only goes to students who play all three sports at the school, volleyball, basketball and soccer, for all four years of high school.
“I think Valeria or ‘V’ as we call her, would be a great representation,” he said.
The Times caught up with Valencia to learn about her high school experience and her goals for the future.
Q: How would you describe your high school experience?
A: My high school years were fairly successful. My freshman and sophomore years were a little difficult due to my language struggles, but thankfully I passed and was able to experience more of my high school and friends.
Q: How would you describe your experience when schools were virtual/hybrid?
A: Our school did a virtual version of the first part of the pandemic, which was difficult for me at first. This school year, we were able to do both in-person and distance learning lessons. I personally did my entire school year of in-person lessons, but it was extremely difficult because we had to wear masks the entire day, making it extremely difficult for us to breathe. I had to do distance learning for the last two months, which wasn’t fun because the classes aren’t the same as in-person lessons as you don’t have the same interaction with your teacher and can’t ask as many questions.
Q: What are your academic and/or career plans?
A: I intend to attend Carroll Community College and major in cybersecurity before transferring to a four-year college to complete my education.
Q: How has high school prepared you for those plans?
A: High school has given me more knowledge of the language, as well as how and where to make the best of myself and my future plans.
Q: What is your favorite high school memory?
A: My favorite memory is from this year, when my class tried to forget about the pandemic and make the most of it. Most of the things we wanted to do couldn’t happen, but we stuck together and made other plans, trying to be one class that showed that even in difficult times, we can all do things, be happier, and be stronger.
Q: What is something you learned in high school that you will carry with you in the next chapter of your life?
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A: I learned that life is harder than you think, it will try to bring you down but if you trust in God and in yourself, you will survive and end up stronger than you think you were.