Christian Academy of Indiana celebrated the class of 2020 on July 18 with a social-distanced ceremony at Southeast Christian Church’s Southern Indiana facility.

This marked the 40th graduation for the school, which began as Graceland Christian School and became part of the Christian Academy School System in 2002. Graceland held its first graduation in 1981.

The ceremony included addresses from seniors Dayra Esparza (Testimonial Address), Mckenna Straw (Salutatory Address) and Reilley O’Loughlin (Valedictory Address). It also represented the final ceremony for out-going Principal Darin Long, the high school and middle school principal, who is now superintendent of the Christian Academy School System. Long will be replaced by Scott Luttrull.

Special awards and scholarships were given to Ashlyn McCarty (Student Council Leadership and Service Scholarship), Emma Fletcher and Jaden Hardesty (Warrior 4-Miler Scholar Athlete Scholarship), Ashlyn McCarty and Peyton Morgan (Theatre Scholarship), and Mckenna Straw and Ian Patterson (Kay Barbour Heart for God Scholarship). Kay Barbour was a champion for Christian education throughout Indiana and established this scholarship to honor students whose character and conduct reflect the highest example of a Christian commitment.

International students who were not able to be present were recognized through their pictures and were able to be part of the ceremony through the remote broadcast.

The 63 graduates of this year’s class will attend 27 different colleges and received more than $1.6 million in college scholarship offers.

Even with the social-distanced approach to graduation (students sat in alternating rows, as did parents, and the ceremony was simulcast to families, reaching some grandparents in other countries), traditions continued, including the Rose Ceremony. In this tribute to parents, students take a rose to their parents as a sign of love and appreciation for their parents’ support throughout their CAI years.

Traditionally, CAI students present a unique and timely “gift” to counselor Kevin Wilson as they come across the stage for their diploma. Keeping with this tradition, this year students presented a roll of toilet tissue as a humorous memory of the pandemic.

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