On May 20, Kindergarten and 8th Grade graduates from Vista Ridge Academy participated in a drive thru graduation ceremony and teachers and staff showed their support by lining the school drive holding up signs while waving and cheering as students drove by. Photographer and VRA Board Member, Brittany McLachlan, took pictures of each graduate and their family to capture the extraordinary event. Students picked up their diploma and gifts off a table where Kindergarten Teacher, Sandy Hepp, and 8th Grade Teacher, Mr. Jones were standing nearby and socially distanced to congratulate each student.
Reflecting on the experience, Hepp says she missed be able to hug the kids.
“The graduation experience was surprisingly better than I thought it was going to be,” says Hepp. Parents saw it was important to the entire staff, and it spoke volumes that we came together during this time.”
A total of seven Kindergartners and six 8th Graders graduated from Vista Ridge Academy this year.
One 8th Grade student started in Pre-K at Vista Ridge Academy. Her mom, Abigail Nunez, said her experience at the school has been positive.
“I’ve seen her strength with God. She has Him first in her heart. That’s one thing I liked about this school. They showed her how to lean on Him,” says Nunez.
Feeling a little nervous, scared and happy, Nunez’s daughter was ready to graduate.
“I would have preferred an actual ceremony,” says Nunez, “but this is the best they can do, and I appreciate it.”
Vista Ridge Academy announced in early May the graduation ceremonies would look different this year due to COVID-19 concerns. VRA moved all classes to remote learning the end of March and is making plans to be reopened this fall.
Kindergarten parent, Kassandra Cunningham, said it was a difficult time for her daughter working through being an online student but thinks she transitioned very well.
“The teachers were super supportive. We just can’t wait to be back next year,” says Cunningham.
When asked about her favorite part of Kindergarten, Cunningham’s daughter replied, “Getting pizza lunch on Mondays, recess and practicing violin.”
Jones says his 8th grade class grew a ton this year. The class met every goal and challenge that was given to them.
“I will miss them greatly, says Jones. “I want them to keep working hard, striving for greatness, pushing themselves to do better and better, and to not be okay with okay.”
Hepp wants her Kindergarten students to know, “No matter what they go through in life, in these bumps, God is going to be with them through the difficult times, and we will always have their back.”
Congratulations to the Kindergarten and 8th Grade classes! CHERISH life!
Vista Ridge Academy is a private Christian elementary school north of Denver, operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It offers wholistic Christ-centered and values-driven education to children from preschool through to the eighth grade.
Article by Marsha Bartulec, Vice Principal for Administration