Subjects such as physics, world history and algebra help lay the foundation of a good student.
But Alexsa Franklin has found a different type of education in the streets of New York City.
Serving on mission trips with her classmates, she fed the homeless. She acted out skits that illustrated biblical principles, and talked with people from all kinds of backgrounds.
“It was really eye-opening. With all that we have, you go across the nation and see how fortunate you are,” she said.
Franklin credits the experience with preparing her for life after high school. The Greenwood Christian Academy senior is a valedictorian of her class, having excelled both in academics and in compassion.
In her four-year high school career, a mix of teachers, mentors and classmates have helped her feel ready to approach the next challenge in her life.
“Because this is a small school, you’re able to have that connection to people,” she said. “When you’re here, you might take that for granted. But now that I’m leaving, I’ll miss it.”
Franklin started at Greenwood Christian Academy her freshman year. She played volleyball for four years and was a member of the National Honor Society.
Early on, Franklin fell in love with the fine arts program at the school. She learned to paint, to draw and to work in graphic design.
Though she had always dabbled in creative works when she was young, high school helped her develop and focus her skills.
“It’s my outlet when I’m happy, or when I’m sad,” she said. “A lot of times, the things I make aren’t for myself. I like seeing the look on someone’s face when they receive something I’ve put a lot of time into.”
High school also helped Franklin grow spiritually.
She attended Bible studies led by English teacher Cindy Smith. Smith taught her how to be a strong, Christian woman not just this year but for the rest of her life. The challenge of a difficult school assignment, a volleyball game that wasn’t going smoothly or a concept that just didn’t make any sense could be managed more easily with faith.
“It’s realizing that there’s sometimes things in life that you don’t want to face,” she said. “But knowing that you can never give up because who are we to say we can’t, when we can do all things through God?”
Franklin will attend IUPUI to study visual communications with an emphasis on graphic design.
She’ll be living at home and working full-time, which will allow her to continue serving on mission trips each summer. Past trips have taken her to Alabama and southern Indiana, as well as to New York.
But her hope is to travel abroad and help evangelize internationally.
While she earned valedictorian with hours and hours of studying, Franklin also credits the entire Greenwood Christian Academy community with helping her reach that level.
“It’s exciting to me, because I’ve worked so hard for it and I get to see it finally pay off,” she said. “But I don’t want it to be all about me. I want to represent my class in some way, because I think we’ve all worked really hard to get here.”