Heritage Academy holds 36th graduation

June 03, 2009

Heritage Academy, founded in 1969, held its 36th graduation ceremony June 1.

Of the 10 students who graduated that day, four of them have attended Heritage since kindergarten and one since K-4.

Three members of the class of 2009 are second-generation Heritage graduates.

A 1980 graduate of Heritage, Pastor Curtis Hendershot, associate pastor at Harvest Baptist Church and father of one of the graduates, was the commencement speaker.

After the ceremony, the members of the junior class presented each senior with a Bible devotional book and then lined the center aisle holding candles to symbolize the passing of the torch of leadership from the seniors to the juniors.

Class valedictorian Jimmy Smyly, son of Jim and Diane Smyly of Big Pool, challenged his classmates.

"Live your lives so others will see the difference Christ makes in you. Use your talents, gifts, and abilities for God's glory as you follow His will for your life," he told the graduates.


Jimmy will be attending Cedarville University in the fall, studying electrical engineering.

Jimmy earned the Red Cross Blood Drive scholarship in addition to receiving several academic grants to help with his schooling.

He also was awarded Cedarville's Presidential and Leadership scholarships.

While at Heritage, Jimmy has served as class president, been a member of student council, traveled on several missions trips and was a member of the school choir.

Grace O'Brien, daughter of Jim and Cathy O'Brien of Hagerstown, was named salutatorian.

In her speech, between tears and laughter, Grace reminded her friends of the memories they shared during their years together. She also shared a poem with them that reflected on the changes that take place as a young person leaves their childhood behind and begins a new life.

During the graduation ceremony, Grace was presented with the Vimont Award, named after the school's first headmaster. The award, a scholarship from the Eagle Boosters, is presented to the senior who displays an outstanding Christian testimony and provides service to the school.

Grace served as class secretary, traveled on several missions trips and was a member of the Quill and Scroll Honor Society because of her involvement in journalism throughout high school, including serving as editor of the 2009 yearbook. She also participated in the school choir as well as in volleyball, basketball, cheerleading and soccer. She also found time to perform leading roles in the school plays each year. Grace recently received the YMCA's True Grit award and has received a scholarship from Coumbia International University, where she will be attending in the fall.

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