On Wednesday, May 13, Lift For Life Academy seniors commemorated their high school graduation with a ceremony at Harris-Stowe State University. The students’ families and friends packed the auditorium to cheer on these young scholars as they move on to the next chapter of their lives.

We are happy to report over 98% of students in the class of 2015 received their diplomas at the ceremony, with 100% of these graduates receiving admission to 2 and 4 year colleges/universities, technical/trade schools, and/or military. Our graduates earned over $750,000 in scholarships this year, and they have left their mark with amazing accomplishments in academics, athletics and community involvement.

The ceremony was highlighted with speeches from faculty, staff, students and guest commencement speaker, Dr. Isaac Butler, Co-Founder of the BESt Pharmacy Summer Institutes. One of the student speakers was the class of 2015’s valedictorian, Chris Rice.

“The graduation ceremony was electric,” said Chris. “The atmosphere felt like a celebration with one big family – that is what my class was. We were one big family, unified by the struggles we had shared and overcome throughout the years.”

Chris recounted speaking in front of his classmates and their families, noting that he was nervous at first, but eventually felt at home as he spoke about his favorite memories with his classmates. Chris also delved into the amazing transformations he witnessed in himself and his classmates.

“I am so much more confident in myself now then when I first started at LFLA,” said Chris. “Lift For Life Academy has taught me that if I work hard enough, anything is possible. I am physically stronger than when I started at LFLA. I enjoyed playing many sports during my high school years. I now have a deep understanding about equality between different ethnicities. If there is one thing that I take away from my experience here, it’s that deep down, I am no different than my African-American peers.”

Chris with classmates at graduation

Chris with classmates at graduation

After excelling academically at Lift For Life Academy, Chris has big plans for the future. He will be attending Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he will be studying Classical Languages and Archeology. In the past few years at LFLA, Chris earned over 20 college credit hours that will set him ahead when he starts in the fall.

“Some of the biggest challenges I faced were the college classes I took in my junior and senior years,” said Chris. “They forced me to do my best all the time. Teachers like Mrs. Owens and Mr. Malone were always there when I fell down hard. They would pick me up, dust me off and set me back on my path towards success.”

While Chris mentioned that he will miss his class and the atmosphere at Lift For Life Academy, he also focused on encouraging his class to see all that they had already accomplished, and how those tribulations have prepared them for any challenges that may arise in the future.

“The class of 2015 is unique because we are a family,” said Chris. “I feel like I will always think fondly of all my classmates. We grew up together. We made mistakes together and we learned from those mistakes. I will miss the friends that I made at LFLA and the incredibly strong atmosphere of growth that we built together.”