Columbus Signature Academy – New Tech High School follows three pillars: trust, respect and responsibility. However, the school’s principal said this year’s graduating class demonstrated a fourth key principle: perseverance.

After four years, more than 7,000 combined hours of community service and a total 776 earned college credits — mostly tuition free — the 89 seniors at CSA-New Tech have finally reached the end of their high school careers, New Tech Principal Mike Reed said.

The school’s sixth graduation ceremony, which took place Friday evening in Columbus East High School’s gymnasium, celebrated these and other academic accomplishments achieved by the class.

“In the last four years, you have completed hundreds of projects and delivered as many presentations,” Reed said. “You are now equipped with the 21st century skills you need to be successful in the adult world. You’re proficient in written communication and oral efficiency (and) you developed a strong work ethic and a sense of civic responsibility.”

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Their hard work paid off with students receiving scholarships worth a combined $1.3 million, Reed said.

The school does not have a traditional valedictorian and salutatorian. Instead, Brayden Burbrink and Mackenzie Walls were selected as the senior speakers.

And while Reed had spoken of how the students improved life at the school, Burbrink and Walls described how the school, faculty and education shaped them for the future.

None of the students knew what the future would hold on their first day at CSA – New Tech, Burbrink said.

“Little did we know we were embarking on a ride — a ride that would stretch and change us, challenge us to be better versions of ourselves each day,” Burbrink said.

At last, their high school ride — full of twists and turns — has now ended and they have crossed the finish line.

Burbrink reminisced about student time spent in the technology- and project-based learning high school, and how they were pushed to extend beyond their comfort zones in search of broader knowledge.

He challenged students one last time to “build and take on a revolutionary life” as they continue their journeys.

Walls continued his thoughts, reiterating the successes of her classmates.

“The physics projects are all done, the English essays are all written, and all the presentations have been given,” Walls said. “Class of CSA 2017, congratulations, we have won.”

About the class

Graduates: 89

Student speakers: Brayden Burbrink and Mackenzie Walls, seniors

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Kaitlyn Evener is an editorial assistant for The Republic. She can be reached at kevener@therepublic.com or 812-379-5633.