For students at CSA New Tech — a high school focused on a project-based learning model — each school year is filled with new endeavors and experiments.
But, as senior Ethan Burton puts it, the past few years have been, in and of themselves, a long career.
“We started a four-year high school project after the eighth grade and now we’ve finished that project,” he said. “We are gathered here to celebrate the completion of this project in CSA fashion.”
CSA New Tech held its 2023 graduation ceremony Friday night in the Columbus East High School gymnasium.
Burton was among those who said that, despite the bittersweet ending, he encouraged his peers to look forward to a new beginning and to be confident in their high school careers.
“During this project we call high school, we developed our collaboration, oral and written communication skills,” he said. “These are things we practice every day. Whether it’s a group project, a public speaking or an essay, we can use these skills for the rest of our lives – just like my public speaking practice right now.”
Principal Mike Reed also congratulated the students on their achievements.
“Members of the Class of 2023, we are proud of who you are,” said Principal Mike Reed. You all showed great resilience during a particularly challenging senior year.
Senior Abigail Schutte said that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, classes began their freshman year with exams being held virtually in the fourth quarter.
However, as she recalls the various transitions and obstacles her class has faced over the course of four years, Schutte credits her peers for their ability to succeed amid the turmoil.
“Our class is the definition of defying expectations,” she said. “And we have no plans to stop anytime soon.”
Superintendent Jim Roberts describes the upward journey of students from elementary to high school, as students begin a new journey after reaching the pinnacle of graduation, “Climbing the Mountain of Life.
As they move forward, he advises them to remember the words of country singer Tim McGraw: “I know you have a mountain to climb, but always be humble and kind.”
“Everyone is climbing a mountain, and we can’t always be sure what that mountain is,” Roberts said. “My mountain is not your mountain. But being nice and polite and doing the right things will help both of us on our highs and contribute to the success of our deal. Always be humble and kind.
The end of the school year marks a transition not only for seniors, but also for CSA New Tech Science Coordinator Peter Warren, who says he’s embarked on a “new adventure” — retirement.
In his remarks to the students, Warren recounts his challenging 35-day journey from Pamplona, Spain to the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Galicia, Spain, where he walked the Camino de Santiago.
“On the last day, I got to visit an amazing cathedral,” says Warren. “You can’t describe the fear in that place. Slowly but surely making progress and putting one foot in front of the other was helpful throughout the day. My trip to Spain was later in life, but yours is just beginning.”
He expressed his belief that this year’s graduates will find a goal and a path that inspires them every day, that they will be brave even though they are unknown, and that they will find other believers who will help them on their journey just like he did.
“Your coaches, your parents, your friends and everyone who loves you wish you well,” Warren said with a sigh. “Hopefully you’ll send us a postcard on the way. Buen Camino.