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Ebony Arnold, Andre Arnold, Head of School Matt Arkin, and K12 CEO Stuart Udell

Thank you, Ryan.

I’d also like to thank Head of School, Matt Arkin, and Deputy Head of School, Veronica Clemons, for their outstanding leadership.

It is an honor to be with you today. Congratulations, Class of 2016! (Applause)

I also want to congratulate all of you — the families- -who supported these students in so many ways. Graduates, how about a big round of applause for your families. (Applause.)

And Graduates, since this very well may be the last time you will ever hear these words, “If you can hear me, send me a smiley face!” (Laughter)

Class of 2016, you’ve arrived. You’ve done the hard work to get here and formed friendships that will last a lifetime.

Take stock of the journey that was your Georgia Cyber Academy experience. Reflect on all you’ve learned and how to use your insights wisely to make your own very special mark on the world.

I’m sure you’ve heard advice from the adults in your lives lately encouraging you to plan for your future. Well, guess what…. I did not have my life figured out when I graduated from high school!

My father ran a printing business. As the eldest of three boys, guess what the family plan was for me….run the printing business! But it wasn’t my dream.

My mother was a school administrator and education was a big deal in my family. My inner voice said if I could just figure out a way to combine education and business, now that would be my dream. (Pause) And here I am today living it…. with the privilege and honor of sharing this day with all of you.

Graduates, what’s your dream?

Judging from your accomplishments I’m not worried about this class a bit!

·         66 of you are graduating Summa Cum Laude

·         39 of you are University of Georgia Certificate of Merit Scholars

·         Nearly 100 of you were dual enrollment students

Valedictorian Evelyn Bailey is a National Merit Scholar and will attend the University of Pennsylvania.

Salutatorian Kevin Abraham is heading to Georgia Tech.

And Mycael (Michael)-Scott Spear, you’ll represent Georgia at the national Skills USA competition this summer.

The schools many of you plan to attend are as diverse as you are, Graduates: Auburn, the Athens Police Academy, Berkeley College of Music, Brown University, Georgia State, Georgia Highlands College, the University of Georgia, and NYU, just to name a few.

The reasons that brought you to GCA already demonstrate your own ability to listen to your inner voice.

Many here were not a perfect fit with traditional schools for a variety of reasons. But you had the strength of character to step out-of-the-box and take ownership of your education. That was a pivotal choice and makes you pioneers in digital learning.

In fact, this class boasts the first-ever Governor’s Honors Finalists from Georgia to attend a virtual school. Alina Rodriguez and Luka Kolodzey (kol-ODD-zee) – – way to go!

Finally, Nobel Prize Winner Martin Luther King Jr. famously said,

“Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of a true education.”

Class of 2016, though I’m still a bit new to this role, through your intelligence and strength of character you’ve shown me that not only did you make a wise decision in choosing to join K12 and Georgia Cyber Academy- – so did I.  Along with all of the other guests here today, I am extremely proud of your accomplishments. Congratulations and best wishes in achieving your dreams.

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