ALBANY — Sherwood Christian Academy’s June 19 graduation ceremony will see the largest graduating class receive diplomas in the school’s history.
Author and movie producer Stephen Kendrick, a former senior associate pastor at Sherwood Baptist Church, will be the speaker for the 31st commencement exercises that begin at 7 p.m.
The ceremony is by invitation only, and each student is limited to 10 guests. However, an online video stream will be provided for friends and family members who cannot attend the service in the church worship center.
“We have 46 graduates,” Headmaster Brian Dougherty said. “That’s the largest graduating class in school history. I can say I’m really proud of our graduates.”
Although students were last in classes on the campus in mid-March, a senior’s day was held on May 1.
“It was really a special time,” Dougherty said. “I’ve seen them (students) in various places.”
The limitation on guests for the graduation ceremony is a safety precaution as the coronavirus is still a presence in the community.
“We’re going to have all the social distancing in place,” Dougherty said. “It’s going to be difficult, but we’re glad it’s going to be together. More than 80 percent of parents wanted an in-person ceremony.”
The school, like those in the rest of the county and state, adapted to distance learning after campuses were closed.
“I’m very proud of our teachers, proud of our families and proud of our students,” Dougherty said. “That was probably the hardest part, not seeing their friends. Kids learn in a group environment. That’s probably the hardest part for the kids.
“They showed great resilience. There’s no doubt they feel like they lost something. There’s no doubt they understand the seriousness.”
On Tuesday, the school will hold a drive of honor event from 6-8 p.m. at Legacy Park, 2412 Lily Pond Road. Guests will be able to drive through the park to offer congratulations to graduates along the driving route and drop off cards and notes in containers at graduate’s stations.
“It’s going to be a great way to honor them,” Dougherty said. “It’s going to be a special time. We’ve been working on ways, even though they’ve lost a lot, to make them feel special.”
Sherwood’s valedictorian is Charles Taylor Jr. and Conner Knuckles is the salutatorian.
Taylor, the class president and secretary-treasurer in student government, will graduate with honors with a 4.0 grade-point average and will attend the Georgia Institute of Technology as an engineering major. He is a member of the National Honor Society, an SCA headmaster scholar and Association of Christian Schools International Distinguished High School Student Award winner.
Knuckles, who is graduating with honors with a 4.0 grade-point average, has been recognized as an SCA headmaster scholar and scholar athlete. She is a member of the National Honor Society and received an ACSI Distinguished Christian High School Student Award and the Georgia Certificate of Merit.
Knuckles said she plans to attend Valdosta State University and major in marketing.