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Six Grace Christian grads honor their mentors

© St. Petersburg Times
published June 8, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- For years, Aimee Epperson has been dreaming of saying two words to the folks at Grace Christian School: "Thank you."

She finally got her chance on Friday night when she and five other graduates walked up to the podium to offer tearful words of gratitude to parents and teachers.

"I could never be more excited except on my wedding day. And that's a long, long way away," said Epperson.

Emotions ran so high that Matthew Lilly, 18, whipped off his blue graduation cap during his farewell speech as he struggled to get out a few words of praise for the teachers and friends that helped raise him.

"I'm especially grateful to you all for putting up with me when there were sometimes stressful days," Lilly said.

The six friends all plan to continue their studies at colleges and religious institutes. But all of them said maintaining the faith, integrity and service to the community that they all learned at Grace Christian would remain a lifelong pursuit.

Amid the praise and prayers offered by seniors Nathan Nale, Anna Weekley, and Joe Polkowski and Stephanie Foulks, pastor Joseph Sowers offered the graduates a tip on keeping things in perspective.

"It isn't about what you can accomplish, because there's nothing on this earth you can take with you," Sowers said.

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