Oaks Christian School celebrated its 204 graduates of the Class of 2022 in early June, marking the first graduating class to have a full year of on-campus learning since the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
The commencement ceremony was held June 2 at Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village. Emmy-winning journalist and Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner was the keynote speaker. She challenged the graduates to live a life of purpose, reminding them that God has an assignment for their lives.
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"Having a divine appointment in your life is necessary. We all have something that sets us apart; you can feel it in your heart and soul. You are gifted and driven to be the best at something. Some people call it your dream, some call it your purpose. I call it God's assignment," she said.
"It is a fact God has given each of you an assignment. It is also true we are like Ikea furniture: assembly required. Learn as much as you can, as fast as you can. Put yourself together. Become excellent at what you do. And when God gives you an assignment, He has not just given you a job: He has given you territory. We know that from the Bible. People will look to you from this day forward now -- that you are putting yourself together piece by piece -- or your expertise and your leadership.
She also applauded this particular class for their "superpower" of resilience, having completed their high school years during COVID-19 and achieving despite obstacles.
Valedictorian Catherine Rao encouraged peers to embrace life beyond high school.
"There is so much life to be lived...we all have new opportunities and new beginnings as we head off to college. Beginnings in which I hope you all find what encourages your soul to flourish, that you have no regrets as you chase your heart's desire. Don't let anyone put out that fire," she said.
Rao graduated with a 4.79 GPA, having taken over 20 honors and advanced placement courses, and will attend Princeton University in the fall. She was also named the Ventura County Star's Girls Golfer of the Year, and ranked in the top 10 female student golfers in America. In addition to her academic and athletic abilities, Rao is also uniquely gifted as an artist, having taken numerous art classes and drawing murals on campus and backdrops for performing arts.
The ‘22 Oaks graduating class included nine seniors who were called Legacy Lions, students who came to Oaks Christian as fifth graders in 2014. Grade five is the lowest grade offered at the school.
Oaks Christian also had five sets of twins and one set of triplets in the graduating class: Albert and Kristin Chamoun; Carson and Reagan Henthorn; Anna and Ry Keough; Luke and William Warner; Franco and Lucia Scalamandre, and Caleb, London, and Peyton Zirretta.
The Class of 2022 was accepted into 238 universities and colleges in 28 states and four countries. Additionally, 96% of graduates were admitted to a four-year college, with 47% admitted to highly selective schools. The Class of 2022, to this date, has earned over $6.6 million in scholarship awards this year.
Receiving the 2022 Atsinger Teaching Award for Excellence was science teacher Julie Pugh. Pugh was introduced and lauded by the 2021 Atsinger Award Recipient English Teacher Sally Gordin.
"Mrs. Pugh teaches with enthusiasm and expertise. She helps students uncover the joy of scientific discovery and exploration. She epitomizes minds for leadership and hearts for service as she models Christ's love and the beauty of science. Thank you for your intellect as you inspire," said Gordin.
Students honored with special awards were:
Salutatorian: Ian Robinett
Weinberg Spiritual Leadership Award: Taylor Harrison
Dallas Price-Van Breda Artistic Expression Award: Skylar Alves
Dallas Athletic Distinction Award: Catherine Rao and Micaela Kastor
Unsung Hero Award: Isabella Marasco
Head of School Award: Carlos Anguiano