NEWBERRY — Kirsty Marr encouraged Newberry Academy’s graduating class of 2014 to accept their freedom of the future and to make it what they wanted it to be. The school graduated 14 seniors on May 23.
Marr, an exchange student from Dundee, Scotland, was chosen as the commencement speaker for the ceremony.
“She is the first exchange student we have had and the first to also go through one of our commencement exercises,” said Head of School Brian Fitzgerald. “I thought she would be perfect. And she was fantastic.”
Marr shared with the graduating class, her experiences in transitioning from Scotland to Newberry, but shared some life lessons as well.
Although some of Marr’s may not transfer when she returns back home, she said she had gained so much more than what was shown on her transcript.
Marr encouraged the graduates to think about who they would be representing when they left the halls of Newberry Academy and moved on to college, or other steps in their futures.
“Not everything you do will be shown on paper,” she said.
Fitzgerald said that from the moment Marr arrived at Newberry Academy, she was one of the most helpful young people he had ever met.
“She really tied some unique thoughts together,” Fitzgerald said about Marr’s speech. “A commencement speaker has to present a challenge to graduates, and I thought she hit it spot on.”
Sean Blanton gave the class address, going through each person in their class and their path through Newberry Academy. Fitzgerald said having a smaller class at the school allowed for a unique touch such as his on the speech.
Blanton was able to highlight the good and interesting things about each member of the graduating class.
The class of 2014 for Newberry Academy included Francisco Alvarez, Sean Blanton, Amber Boatwright, Rachel Buzhardt, Amanda Crayne, Jacob Epting, Alison Johnson, Kirsty Marr, William Mature, Ansley McJunkins, Kaitlyn Nobles, Daniel Shuler, Ryan Smith, and Justin Suber.
Buzhardt was named Valedictorian of the class. Suber was Salutatorian.
Fitzgerald said he would describe the class of 2014 as a unique group.
“There’s really a wide spectrum of students in the class,” he said.
The seniors, Fitzgerald said, were very active, and exactly what you think seniors should be.
“You knew you could count on them. They were always helping,” Fitzgerald said. “They will be severely missed because they were so service oriented.”
Not only did they excel academically, but Fitzgerald said the class excelled in their service toward helping others as well as athletically, with three to four graduates finishing in the state swim meet, other in the final four for varsity basketball.
Part of a graduation requirement at Newberry Academy is a minimum of 10 service hours per year. This class was the first to have this as a requirement. Fitzgerald said some completed over 50 hours of service, which really backed up his thoughts of how much they truly served others.
Buzhardt, Crayne and Suber were named SCISA Honor Students, meaning they obtained a 3.5 GPA or higher, and a score of 1100 or better on the SAT (1600 scale). Blanton, Crayne, Johnson and Suber were S.C. Life Scholarship recipients, with Buzhardt receiving the Palmetto Fellows scholarship.
Colleges the class of 2014 were accepted to included Erskine College, The Citadel, Clemson University, College of Charleston, Piedmont Technical College, Lander University, Newberry College, and Francis Marion University.
“They’ve given so much to the class,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re definitely going to miss them.”