School News

Chapel Field celebrates the Class of 2024

By Ella Connors
Posted 6/21/24

Emotions ran high as the 22 students making up the Chapel Hill Christian High School class of 2024 graduated on Saturday morning at Montgomery’s Goodwill Church.

Bill Spanjer, the head of …

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School News

Chapel Field celebrates the Class of 2024


Emotions ran high as the 22 students making up the Chapel Hill Christian High School class of 2024 graduated on Saturday morning at Montgomery’s Goodwill Church.

Bill Spanjer, the head of schools at Chapel Hill, welcomed everybody to the commencement ceremony, which began at 10 a.m. A rendition of Pomp and Circumstance then led the graduates down the center aisle and into their pews, where Maurice Davoren, the senior class vice president recited their last pledge of allegiance. Ron Bonagura, the board chairman, gave the invocation and the crowd was led in the singing of the hymn, “Crown Him With Many Crowns.”

“It is days like this that make our job both beautiful and bitter at the same time,” Spanjer said in his opening remarks. “It is on days like this that we get to rejoice in the fruit of the labor done at the school and done in the home and done in the church in moments of celebrations like this. And at the same time it is unbelievably hard to see students go [who] become family to us at the school.”

The class capped two salutatorians, each earning a grade point average of 4.01 — Katherine Warner and Emma Spanjer. In their speeches, they both echoed similar sentiments about the importance of faith and its prevalence in their futures, both inside and outside of academics. 

“For us who are graduating, consider that we are the seedlings and today we are being transplanted to continue the process of birth,” Warner said. “We are equipped with all that we need to continue developing deep roots and growing a staple, flourishing life.”

A collection of academic awards were given out to some accomplished members of the class, including the theological student of the year, the veritas award, art student of the year, music student of the year and advancement in scholarship. Having come to the school not speaking English and graduating as a member of the National Honors Society, YuYu “Ryan” Chien was given the award for advancement in scholarship.

The school’s valedictorian, Christina Quirk, said in her speech that her early love of learning is what inspired her to immerse herself into different types of literature. She thanked her parents for instilling in her a love of learning, but also, a deeply grounded love of Christ.

Quirk acknowledged the personal losses of some of her classmates, emphasizing the importance of faith’s role amid suffering.

“Each loss we have endured reminds us that we cannot cling to this broken world,” Quirk said. “Instead, we are called to cling to Christ, our only hope, and to adhere to his truth even when that means suffering for him. And suffering for the truth is difficult. It is hard to be the one to stand up for what is right.”

Following the valedictorian address, a group of virtue awards were handed out, consisting of the exemplary service award, exemplary leadership award, the Michael Switzer award and Harold Bartels award, athlete of the year and the Founders’ award. Warner won the female athlete award for her impressive performance in softball, while the male athlete award was obtained by two young men, Jonah McDuffie and Michael Bonagura, for their success in basketball and baseball respectively.

The commencement address was given by Reverend Kevin Chiarot, who highlighted the cliche nature of many graduation speeches, joking that Chat GPT could write a sufficient speech with few instructions. After reading a Chat GPT speech, as well as his own remarks, Chiarot noted that despite this, artificial intelligence leaves some ideas out under three different frameworks — culture, country and character.

The Litany of Thanksgiving was led by Quirk, as the graduates spoke as a group to the congregation. Then, one by one, each member of the class received their diplomas, as some of their core accomplishments throughout their academic lives, as well as outside of school, were read out loud to the crowd. The ceremony concluded with the graduate blessing and benediction, where their parents stood behind them at the front of the church as the blessing was read, and then caps were thrown joyously in the air.

“Don’t worry about changing the world,” Chiarot said in his address. “Worry first and foremost about being changed yourself.”