RIPON —Ripon Christian High School graduated 55 seniors Friday evening from a class that accumulated $1.7 million is scholarship funds.
Five of those receiving their diplomas were Presidential Academic Excellence Award winners with 4.0 and above grade point averages.
They were valedictorian Logan Vos, Alseena Thomas, David Kramer, Janelle Engel and Abigail Connick. Vos, also recipient of the coveted CIF Senior Athlete of the Year Scholarship, has been accepted at Trinity Christian College outside Chicago where he will be joined by five other RC grads.
Alseena Thomas is going off to UCLA and David Kramer will be attending the Virginia Military Institute. Janelle Engle is going to Dort College and Abigail Connick is enrolled at Concordia.
Fifteen other students, who scored 3.5 in their grade point averages, also donned gold cords for their graduation and are among the 96 percent of their class going on to colleges throughout the country.
They are Alexander Blankers, Jihun (James) Chang, Raeann De Rousse, Tara De Vries, Elijah English, Jacob Groen, Carissa Hilarides, Colleen Kamper, Jilian Koetsier, Emily Leahy, Kirsten Lown, Wesley Lown, Devanee Quaresma, Michelle Terpstra, and Janeen Viss.
Colleges the Ripon Christian graduates will be attending include Westminster, CSU Chico, University of Washington, Fresno Pacific, Point Loma Nazarene, The Master’s College, CSU Fresno, Cal Poly, Northwest Nazarene, Boise State, Simpson, Vanguard, Linfield College, Stanislaus, Sonoma, San Jose, East Bay, Chico and Sacramento state universities.
Several other graduates are going to be attending community colleges in Stockton, San Francisco and Modesto and two have joined the U.S. Air Force.
Ripon Christian Schools’ Superintendent Kerry Manus opened the ceremonies with a welcome to family members and friends in the audience. School Board President Brian Vos offered the invocation and devotions.
Vos was one of his son Logan’s first basketball coaches when he entered the sixth grade. Logan was this year’s valedictorian, who spoke for the class of 2011, lauding the school and its teachers for the foundation they provided the students and to the parents who made their education and graduation so valuable to them.
He noted that his parents were always there for him with their advice on any issue he had in life and in school. “They have always pushed me to become the best man that I could be and encouraged me to keep God first in all things,” he said.
“These past four years have presented us graduates with a lot of ups and downs. I know that, for my fellow graduates and myself, we wouldn’t be where we are tonight without the support for our families through the highs and lows of high school. Our moms and dads, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and grandparents have stood by our sides all these years and they are a major reason that each and every one of us is sitting here tonight,” he said.
RC Principal Mary Ann Sybesma cited the class as being highly energetic and for also being a close knit group, enjoying each other’s company.
“The students worked hard for scholarships,” she said. They pursued excellence in education choosing a wide variety of majors and colleges.”
Sybesma saluted Ripon Christian Elementary School Principal Dale DeWeerd for his 20 years of service to the school as a fourth grade teacher and its current principal. DeWeerd is moving to China this summer. He will be serving the English Language Institute of China, teaching English to university students, she said.
Sybesma also lauded two high school teachers who have each served on the Ripon Christian faculty for a total of 90 years – 45 years each.
Brent Folkerts has taught science, coached basketball for 13 years and tennis for 15, and was cited for his positive impact on the many students who have gone through the Christian school.
Jerry Terpstra taught social studies and coached soccer, was the school’s newspaper advisor, and led the senior class and the student council. Terpstra was also cited for his organization of student trips to Washington, D.C., and for teaching the nation’s history and the inner workings of the three branches of government.
A farewell and closing prayer was offered by class salutatorian Alseena Thomas.
The recessional saw smiling graduates march out of the high school gym before grinning family members and to the music of the Ripon Christian High School Band.