Grace Prep graduates set to begin next chapter

School: Grace Prep Christian High School.

Graduating class: 2016

Number of grads: 15

Colors: All graduates wore red caps and gowns with a mix of a blue and red tassels dangling from their caps. Honor students had a blue sash around their necks.

Head of School: Jarrod Sechler

Where: State College Assembly of God Church

Student speakers: Stephen Layng

Keynote speakers: Founder Bob Gresh, Principal Jane Auhl

Valedictorian: Layng

Salutatorian: Daniel Barron

Student memories: Eric Shuey, 17, is starting summer classes June 26 at Penn State. He said he’s not sure what he wants to study quite yet, but is taking classes like math and art history this summer. Of all the memories he said he had during the four years at Grace Prep, Shuey said he’ll miss the whitewater rafting trip the most. “It was a mandatory trip we went on each year before school started, and it was interesting to see everyone you go to school with in a different element than in school,” he said. The trip was held annually at Ohiopyle State Park in Fayette County.

Graduation memory: He said “bittersweet” was a cliche statement, but that’s how Layng described graduation. “It’s something exciting, but there’s a sadness to it,” he said. “This is also a little cliche, but it’s like going into the first day of the rest of your life. I look at it like every day is the first day of the rest of my life.” Layng is headed to India on June 30 for a medical internship, and then will spend a year in the Ukraine for a study abroad program. He heads to Eastern Europe on Aug. 25. Layng said both post-graduation endeavors are a way to prepare him for the Air Force Academy where he plans to major in biology and minor in Russian.

Graduation moment: Sechler presented Haley Wang with the Student of the Year award. When describing the graduate, he compared her to his favorite football player, Troy Polamalu. He said her tenacity, but grace and commitment to God, is what reminds him most of the former Pittsburgh Steelers player. The comparison came with a roar of laughs from the audience, but Sechler said Wang was the kind of student who represents Grace Prep the most through academics, athletics and faith.

Tips for underclassmen: Connor Williams, 18, said if it wasn’t for Grace Prep, he might have gone down a different, and possibly negative, path in life. He suggests to younger students not to be closed-minded. “It might be a hard pill to swallow, but I think if you can admit when you’re wrong, it’ll open up a lot more doors in life,” he said. “It’s a hard lesson to learn, but it puts a lot about life into perspective, and you can learn so much.” Williams said he’s unsure of his long-term future plans are, but in the short-term, he will travel and play the bass in a local contemporary Christian band called the Allan Scott Band. The band’s first trip after graduation is this weekend to Buffalo, N.Y. He also plans to work ground maintenance at Mountain View Country Club.