Best in class: School graduation to have 5 valedictorians

They all have identical grade point averages.

Greenwood Christian Academy’s five valedictorians will graduate high school on Saturday with perfect 4.0 grade point averages.

None received a B in a class and most excelled and cited their hardest classes as their favorites.

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Now they are working on which part of the graduation ceremony they will have a part in.

Allison Shi, Grace Weeks and Ellie Everts will all speak together, with each tackling a different topic in their speech.

Andrew Theaker will tell the 49 graduates of the private school in Greenwood when it is time to turn their tassles. Alexandra Ross will deliver the ceremony’s invocation.

Here is a look at what each of the five top students will study and what brought them to their ranking as the top students in their class.

Ellie Everts

School: Greenwood Christian Academy

Class Rank: 1

GPA: 4.0

Parents: Andrew and Victoria Everts

College: Hillsdale College

Major: Undecided

Hardest class: Dual credit chemistry

Favorite class: AP calculus

The Greenwood Christian Academy senior saw changes she wanted to make to the education at her own school.

Ellie Everts has spent most of her high school career studying education.

She reads articles on national education and saw changes she thought she could make, such as scheduling and weighted grades.

Everts went to the school’s board of directors, asking for block scheduling and a reconfiguration of how much weight finals are given to grades.

Her ideas didn’t pass, but she knew she wanted to make a difference in education, she said.

“(Education) is something that impacts people,” Everts said.

She will attend Hillsdale College in Michigan in the fall.

When she visited campus, she saw her philosophy on education and felt that her future professors would teach her how to change the education world, she said.

Everts isn’t sure what major she should pursue to make national educational changes, she said.

Alexandra Ross

School: Greenwood Christian Academy

Class Rank: 1

GPA: 4.0

Parents: Ryan and Debi Ross

College: McKendree University

Major: Art

Hardest class: AP calculus

Favorite class: AP U.S. history

She was sitting in an advanced placement physics class and didn’t think she could make it.

Alexandra Ross typically did well in math and science classes, but this one was giving her trouble, she said.

During a few sessions, she thought her performance might cost her her perfect 4.0 grade point average and her chance to graduate as valedictorian at Greenwood Christian Academy.

The class was asked to build a catapult and she was struggling.

“I was like ‘no, I can’t do this’” she said.

Then a classmate, fellow valedictorian Allison Shi, helped her. The help saved her grade and her class ranking.

When Ross goes to McKendree University in the fall, she will be pursuing a degree in art; and staying away from math and science classes.

Ross spent her childhood drawing and would like to be a graphic designer and design logos for advertisements, she said.

Allison Shi

School: Greenwood Christian Academy

Class Rank: 1

GPA: 4.0

Parents: Hui Peng and Pingnan Shi

College: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Major: Electrical engineering

Hardest class: Dual credit chemistry

Favorite class: Dual credit chemistry

For most of her life she studied ballet.

Allison Shi danced almost daily since she was 3. She trained daily to become a professional ballerina every day until February of 2015.

After one visit to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, she had scrapped her ballet plans and decided engineering was a better suited career for her, she said.

“I decided to quit ballet that May,” she said.

She spent the summer between her junior and senior years at Operation Catapult, an engineering training session at Rose-Hulman.

Shi and her partner spent the summer camp making a solar panel and she decided she wanted to spend her life figuring out how things worked, she said.

“That was how I got into electrical engineering,” she said.

She always knew she liked designing items and seeing how pieces fit together.

As a high-schooler, she became obsessed with designing loft room configurations and seeing how the furniture could fit together. She downloaded a computer program that would make her hobby easier.

When she visited Rose-Hulman and saw that students made designing their loft bed rooms a hobby, she knew where she wanted to go to school, she said.

“I have always been into efficient design,” she said.

Andrew Theaker

School: Greenwood Christian Academy

Class Rank: 1

GPA: 4.0

Parents: Paul and Darlene Theaker

College: IUPUI

Major: Computer science/information technology

Hardest classes: Dual credit chemistry/AP calculus

Favorite classes: Dual credit chemistry/AP calculus

The senior at Greenwood Christian Academy had a to-do list every day.

Get good grades. Earn merit-based scholarships. Graduate debt free.

His 4.0 grade point average and his decision to stay at home while attending IUPUI will allow him to graduate debt free, he said.

IUPUI also has well known degree programs in computer technology and information technology, and he hopes to one day work in information technology.

“I have always loved working with computers and technology,” he said.

When he went to classes, he wanted to do his best and make sure that his grades were high enough to earn merit-based scholarships, he said.

Doing his best translated into the top grade point average in his class.

He started his education at home and was homeschooled until he transferred to Greenwood Christian Academy as a second-grader.

Grace Weeks

School: Greenwood Christian Academy

Class Rank: 1

GPA: 4.0

Parents: Jon and Tracy Weeks

College: Taylor University

Major: Quantum physics

Hardest class: Dual credit literature

Favorite classes: AP calculus/study hall

As a freshman at Greenwood Christian Academy, she was interested in what caused black holes.

After voraciously reading research articles and books and hearing well-known scientists speak about quantum physics, Grace Weeks knew that it was the career for her.

“Quantum physics is always making breakthroughs,” Weeks said.

She wanted to know what caused black hole sand and the science behind the phenomenon, she said.

“You could really see the creator’s hand in our universe,” she said.

Weeks will attend Taylor University where she will study quantum physics with the hopes of working in a lab one day, she said.

After attending a science convention where she saw quantum physicists talk about her field, she knew that studying quantum physics was the right move.

“That side of quantum physics was everything I loved,” she said.

If you go

What: Greenwood Christian Academy graduation

When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday at 835 W. Worthsville Road, Greenwood

Author photo
Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mkritsch@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2770.