Christ Presbyterian Academy
Valedictorian Katelin Flemmons Speaks at Commencement

The highest academic honor at CPA is the Valedictorian. Congratulations to Katelin Flemmons, the Valedictorian for the Class of 2024. Katelin delivered an outstanding speech at Commencement. Read her remarks below. 

Good Afternoon! I hope all of y’all are feeling all of the emotions- as I am- but, over all, I hope y’all are feeling joy, because in essence, graduation is a celebration of all we’ve accomplished over these 4 years as well as all that we now have the potential to accomplish in the many years to come.

Ok, so as many of y’all probably know, I have some weird dreams. One night a couple of weeks ago, near the end of April, I dreamt that I was sitting at graduation and, suddenly, Abigail was called up to speak -- and obviously she had had her speech written, revised, and rehearsed for months. As she began speaking, I looked down at my speech and saw one paragraph! One! I knew I couldn’t possibly speak slowly enough to make that last for 5-7 minutes, so I flipped to 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, and decided that ‘no one can really say my speech is bad if it’s from the Bible!’-- Just as a reminder: that was just a dream, and I didn’t plagiarize the Bible for my speech today.

But it is a big part of my speech because what I am going to be talking about for the next couple minutes is the things that are ending but also the things that God tells us are never ending

The first thing I thought of when I was brainstorming all the things that are ending today was childhood. Yes, many of us have been 18 for a while or are going to turn 18 over the summer, but high school was a tether to our middle school and even elementary school selves, especially for those who have been here since they can remember. Although we will always have those memories, we are growing out of that stage of life and into a new one. I have a terrible memory, but I will always remember crying during all the sad movies we watched every year in middle school Bible classes. I can still picture Ms. Young cranking up the speaker in the gym before school and “Can’t Stop the Feeling” becoming my favorite then least favorite song very quickly. Middle school cross country with Ms. James. And I’ll never forget The Cay, book and movie- oh my graciousness the glory days. Our grade being the last to visit the capital and basically every other touristy place in Washington DC before they shut down everything for Covid. The clean up songs freshman year- my personal favorite was “it’s a great day to be alive.” Learning lots about my classmates in sophomore year AP Chemistry hot seat. That one homecoming where the music went off, and we all started singing a capella. Learning about as-part-a-may, also known as aspartame, in AP bio with Ms. Romaine. The Europe trip with Mr. Carpenter where we got to explore, and quite literally get lost in, the Louvre. And senior year- wow it went by sooooo fast but I feel like we made years worth of memories. Passing of the scrolls, senior retreat, senior dress up days, father daughter dance, prom, baccalaureate, breakfast and cookout on the quad, and now, our last memory of highschool: graduation. When we walk across the stage, it represents our passage into another season of life. Our childhood is something that inevitably ends, but God’s Fatherhood is never ending. You will never outgrow Him. 1 John 2:28 says, “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.” and chapter 3 verse 2 says “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” As a grown kid, a young adult in this big crazy world, it can be easy to throw aside all authority and all innocence because it seems childish to obey and protect your heart, but I pray that y’all would remember that God’s reign is endless and eternal and he is forever your father and you are forever his beloved child.

Secondly, classes are ending, at least required classes are. You are no longer required by law to attend school. Many of us are going to college- Roll Tide - for academics or art or job training or sports, but eventually we will move on from our days of classroom life into having a family and pursuing careers. However, while classes end and have ended for us in highschool, learning is never-ending. It may seem overwhelming and exhausting; however, it is actually the biggest blessing that we have a God that is not only our father but our all-knowing, endlessly creative Father. My favorite Bible verse is Ecclesiastes 3:11 which starts by saying, “He has made everything beautiful in his time.” I love the beginning of this verse and always see it everywhere but the second part of the verse stands out to me the most, though it is less referenced. It reads, “Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” “He has put eternity into man’s heart”- I love that because it perfectly describes the curiosity, the longing for eternity that God has placed in the heart of each human on this earth. We were made to learn and strive for knowledge because we are made in the image of God, and God is omniscient, full of knowledge. He has also created us so that we will never reach the end of learning, we will never be all knowing as He is. This is frustrating to me because I wish I could know all the deep intricacies of music and math and language and the brain; however, the mystery of God and the fact that we can’t know everything about him makes him all the more worthy of praise. So we can endlessly praise him through learning more and more about him and his creation throughout eternity. 

And finally, friendships are ending. This, to me, is the saddest reality of all, that we will never all be here together in the same way again. I always think about people’s lives as strings, all crisscrossed on top of each other. Some strings never cross, some strings cross for a moment, and some strings will be intertwined for their entire length. I have tried to draw out what my life would look like in strings, but there is no way I could draw, or even recall, all the people I have come in contact with in a day, not to mention 18 years! I hope that many of our strings will stay intertwined, but for some people in this room, it is time for their string to diverge and cross with new strings. Friendships end, but God’s love is eternal. As I said at the beginning, God is forever your Father which means, your string is forever intertwined with Him.

So I encourage you, as many things have ended over the course of the school year, are ending today, and will end in the days to come, think on and rest in the things that are never-ending.