In a room filled with family, friends, and loved ones, 44 students were honored at the Oxford Virtual Academy (OVA)/Oxford Schools Early College (OSEC) graduation ceremony, held in the Oxford High School Performing Arts Center May 30.
The OVA program is designed to serve students who are seeking a more flexible core education schedule. The program features a 24/7 online school, but can also include seated classes within the district, to provide in-person teaching experiences to students when needed.
The district’s OSEC program is a five-year program which allows students to earn their high school diploma while also earning transferable college credits up to an associate’s degree. Students in this program are offered both online and face-to-face instruction.
During the ceremony, students received some words of wisdom from 46th District State Representative John Reilly (R-Oakland Township), who served as keynote speaker.
Reilley told students that they will all face hardships in life but that, with hard work and perseverance they will be able to overcome those challenges and achieve their dreams.
“You’ve been to school pretty much your whole life. I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of frustrations. It doesn’t get any easier. Here’s my advice. You must find your calling in life… You (must) work very hard to succeed and it makes a very big difference if you are able to find fulfillment in what you do for a living. Whatever you do in life, never abandon your search for meaning. Pursue your calling or you will be wasting your precious time,” Reilley said.
Several students were also presented with awards and scholarships during the ceremony.
The APEX Personal Growth Scholarship, which is awarded to students who have shown great success in virtual learning, was presented to Kirsten Naski.
Gracie Starr was presented with the Pearson Leadership Award.
Anna Marvin was presented with the Lincoln Virtual Pioneer Scholarship, which is awarded to students who have shown great success in virtual learning.
Connor Romine and Serena Bianchi both received PrepWorks awards, which are given to the students who showed the most academic growth from one college preparatory test to the next.
The OVA Mentor Award, given to the student who demonstrated the best overall achievement, was presented to Maria Sobrino who completed 10 Advanced Placement courses over the last two years and graduated with honors.
Rebekah Szymanski and Sobrino, both OVA students, delivered the senior addresses that night.
According to Szymanski, she had a difficult time becoming motivated to do well in school initially but, with the unwavering support of her teachers and parents, she eventually realized the importance of education through the online program.
“My experience has taught me that nothing valuable comes easily. Be patient, eventually you will be where you want to be and it will be so rewarding… Although it can be hard in the moment— keep pushing. It will be worth it. At times you’ll feel overwhelmed and that is when you need to drown out the world and focus on the small task at hand. Focus on giving it your all. Remember what the outcome is, remember what you are fighting for and remember what you are passionate about,” Szymanski said.
After the presentation of diplomas, surrounded by thunderous applause, the students turned their tassels and became high school graduates.