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School's 3rd senior class to graduate

Commencement will be held tonight for a class of 13 seniors at Seven Rivers Christian School in Lecanto.

By PAULETTE LASH RITCHIE
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 24, 2002


LECANTO -- Seven Rivers Christian School holds its third graduation at 7 tonight in the school gymnasium.

The graduates are: Shawn Allen, Beau Barry, Stephen Blake, Kristen Cortese, Betsy Edwards, Wendy Heaton, Catherine Ice, Brook Julias, Valerie Sherouse, Robert Strong, Amanda Walker, Olivia Weiss and Jesse Woods.

Olivia, 17, and Kristen, 18, are the co-valedictorians. Catherine, 17, is the salutatorian.

Olivia has a 3.92 grade point average and has attended Seven Rivers since sixth grade. "The thing that I have enjoyed, I must say, is the family atmosphere that Seven Rivers brings to the education. The teachers have a true care for the students," she said, adding that the care went beyond education. The teachers care "for the students as persons."

In high school, Olivia played basketball, was the student council secretary and the National Honor Society vice president. She was involved in church activities and plans a missions trip to Mexico this summer for about a week to do odd jobs and building activities for an orphanage.

She plans to attend Florida State University to major in history, eventually becoming a college professor.

Olivia is the daughter of Vana Mendizabal and Robert Weiss and stepdaughter of Mario Mendizabal and Diane Weiss.

Kristen has a 3.92 GPA, which ties her with Olivia as valedictorian. She has been at the school since kindergarten. "I've enjoyed Seven Rivers, and I think it's impacted me and helped me grow," she said.

Leaving, she said, "is going to be bittersweet for me. I enjoyed the friendships that I have made here." The help and attention of the teachers, she said, "go beyond the classroom."

She said she is going to miss the atmosphere at the school. "I'll miss the athletics," she said. Kristen played basketball, softball and volleyball.

She plans to attend Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Ga. She is undecided about a major, but said, "I like people. I like missions."

Kristen is the daughter of the Rev. Raymond and Diane Cortese.

Catherine has a 3.84 GPA and has attended Seven Rivers since kindergarten. "A lot of the people there, they're part of my family. We're all the family of God, and they really try to promote that atmosphere."

She says she is still close to some of her elementary school teachers. They were mentors, but now they are friends. "That's been really cool. I'm going to miss a lot of people," Catherine said.

"They have really challenged me to know what I believe, and I think that that has been a good thing. It has strengthed my faith and given me the support I needed when I needed it."

She said she has received an excellent education, although class choice is limited. That has not been a hindrance to her, though.

Catherine plans to attend Wheaton College in Illinois to study medicine. "I want to be a mother/baby doctor, a pediatrician/obstetrics/gynecologist. I'll treat mothers and their kids," she said.

Catherine is the daughter of James Paul and Shirley Ann Ice.

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