Porter’s Chapel Academy graduates class of 2023

Published 6:46 pm Saturday, May 20, 2023

Porter’s Chapel Academy celebrated its graduating class of 2023 with a commencement ceremony Saturday afternoon at First Baptist Church Vicksburg.

Seventeen graduates walked across the stage during the ceremony, which featured hymns and a piano accompaniment by Austin Crabtree, Assistant Head of School at Porter’s Chapel Academy.

Head of School Chris Williams began the event with an address to graduates.

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“You have overcome challenges many of us will never understand,” Williams said. “When I think of what all you had to overcome in your sophomore years with COVID-19, and then into your junior years and on into your senior years, I am reminded of the writings of the Apostle Paul to the church at Corinth when he wrote, ‘We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed. We are perplexed, but not in despair. Persecuted, but not abandoned. Struck down, but not destroyed.'”

The Rev. Bill Wright, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, served as a guest speaker during the ceremony. Wright commended the graduates on the time they’d dedicated to their studies up to this point and offered words of advice for what he called the “school of life.”

“Just like in school, the school of life has required courses to take,” Wright said. “You can’t opt out of them; you have to take them. … There’s a way to live life in the right relationship with God.”

This year, PCA had a tie for salutatorian, and both salutatorians gave an address to their class. Isaac Martin graduated with a 4.13 GPA and will soon join the United States Air Force.

Martin spoke to his classmates about the challenges that await them as they enter adulthood.

“I once heard a young man say, ‘There’s no such thing as a painless lesson. They just don’t exist,'” Martin said. “Sacrifices are necessary. You must gain anything, but you cannot gain anything without losing something first. Although if you can endure that pain and walk from it, you will have a heart that can endure any obstacle.”

The second salutatorian was Lawson Selby, who graduated with a 4.13 GPA. Selby signed an athletic scholarship with Meridian Community College to play basketball and will complete his degree at Mississippi State University.

In his address, Selby shared his memories in numbers — specifically, the number 23.

“I think the number 23 is a great number and its significance is infinite,” Selby said. “For example, each parent contributes 23 chromosomes to start a human life. William Shakespeare was born on April 23. One of the most popular Bible verses is Psalm 23, ‘The Lord is my shepherd.’ It takes 23 seconds for the human body to circulate a blood cell.

“Even the great Lawson Selby wore the number 23 his sophomore year at Porter’s Chapel Academy,” he added. “So you can’t possibly tell me the number 23 isn’t one of the greatest numbers of all time.”

The valedictorian for PCA’s class of 2023 was Tiara Sims. Sims graduated with a 4.18 GPA and will be attending Meridian Community College in the fall with plans to major in radiologic technology and science and will complete her nursing degree at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Sims first thanked God for leading her to the stage as valedictorian and gave God the glory for her accomplishments.

“When I first came to Porter’s Chapel during my 10th-grade year, I was in doubt about starting a new school and meeting new people,” Sims said. “I must say that all the doubts I had were short-lived. Once I got to Porter’s Chapel, I was welcomed in with open arms. It is a place that guided me to be a better version of myself.

“I was most impacted by our school’s motto: Christ first, Christ only and Christ always,” she added. “It wasn’t just spoken about; it was also exhibited.”

The graduation ceremony concluded with the issuance of class awards and scholarships and the conferring of diplomas to graduates.