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Springwood School graduates 29 students

LANETT — When Tuong Tran began delivering her valedictorian address in her native Vietnamese, it drew a lot of bewildered looks from the large crowd gathered inside Springwood School’s Boswell Gym on Friday evening.

She spoke a couple of sentences in a language most Americans do not understand before stopping, smiling and saying “I’m just kidding! I’m not going to do the entire speech in Vietnamese.”

That remark filled the gym with laughter before Tran continued in English, talking about a wonderful experience she’d had the past two years as part of Springwood’s international program.

“I have gained more knowledge and skills the past two years than I ever had in my entire life,” she said. “I cannot possibly thank my teachers and the school administrators enough on having been so caring. I so much appreciate the international program for allowing me to be here.”

Tran will continue her education at Texas A&M University, where she will study engineering.

Tran is one of nine Asian students who earned diplomas at Springwood on Friday.

In his remarks, Headmaster Rick Johnson made it quite clear he was proud of the fact Springwood was a school of much diversity. In addition to students from Lanett, West Point, Valley, LaGrange, and Pine Mountain, this year’s graduating class had students native to Korea, Taiwan, China, Thailand and Vietnam.

Class Salutatorian Cole Hoiness congratulated his classmates on having been part of class of exceptional academic excellence.

“Collectively, we have the third highest scholarship total in the 45-year history of the school,” he said. “Our class has students who are quiet and introspective and students who are much more outgoing.”

He added that he especially wanted to thank his mom for the strength and wisdom she had always shown in raising him. “Let us not look backward, but let’s look forward,” he said. “That’s where our future lies.”

Johnson said it might be premature to say this year’s class will finish third in the overall scholarship total. He said that one student received a scholarship offer valued at $59,000 today to bring the total much closer to last year’s second-place finish. Some more offers over the summer could push the Class of 2019 into second place.

Johnson noted that this was Springwood’s 46th graduating class in 49 years as an independent school. “

That’s remarkable,” he said.

He thanked a number of veterans present in the crowd for their service to our country and making mention of the Memorial Day holiday weekend encouraged everyone present to honor those Americans who had given their lives to our country.

“I want to thank the board for the support they have given me in the seven years I have been at this school,” Johnson said. “I want to thank the faculty for the way they have helped our students year in and year out in so many ways.”

For an eighth year in a row, Springwood is rated a blue ribbon school. In earning more than 2,200 points in the 2018-19 school year, the school is assured of placing high in AISA President’s Award competition.

Johnson told the crowd that a beautiful flower arrangement on the stage had been presented in memory of Dale and Bianca Freeman, two beloved teachers who had passed away only days apart this spring. The crowd joined Johnson in a moment of silence in memory of these two valued members of the Springwood family.

Johnson asked the students to always remember some words from I Corinthians about the three critical forces to live right.

“They are faith, hope and love with love being the strongest of the three,” he said. “If you live on values and principles, things will have a way of working out for you. People are here tonight because they have a connection to you. They love you when you do well, and they still love you when you don’t do well. No one will love you more than God. His love will never fail you.”