Hear From Our Graduates
Through the Years
Excerpts from Valedictorians' Commencement Speeches:
Class of 2015
“…As a CAWNY graduate, I can assure you that this amazing school has changed my life. I stand before you today as a product of the good faith and encouragement of countless professional staff, faculty members and my peers who have become my CAWNY family. I have been amazed at the love I have received and the knowledge that I have gained that far transcend the classroom. The opportunities that I have been given at CAWNY are more than I could have ever imagined. I have not only been allowed the opportunity to see the world anew, but I’ve been shown how important it is to do my part in changing the world for the better. At CAWNY, I have created relationships and participated in dialog that will forever change and inspire my life.
“…Thank you to the teachers and staff, and to Christian Academy of Western New York for this amazing experience and education. To my amazing Class of 2015, ANY person can make a difference, ANY person can spark a positive change and ANY person can ignite a fire that can illuminate the world. All it takes is FAITH and COURAGE and most of all DREAMING BIG with the help of our Lord Jesus Christ! Congratulations, Class of 2015!”
Class of 2016
"For only the purpose of an inspiration, please allow me to share [the] testimony of my life from my past. [In Ethiopia,] my biological family abandoned me when I was only a kid. I was left alone as my mother left home and run away with my other siblings in the absence of my father. Because of that I was unfortunate to have a family around. I never settled seeking for a peaceful and suitable environment trying to avoid tortures and furious treatments of my father whose psychology was not decent because of his lose of wife and wealth. Since then, I was always alone growing up. Since I was never been fortunate to grow up with my family, I always wondered around many places seeking for anyone to host and provide me with something that would permit me in life to sustain. My life was always full of evasive actions.
"By the age 10 years old I ended up being taken into an orphanage, which marked my final run away habit from my father. After seven years of life in an orphanage I clearly began seeing that my days and life held literally nothing meaningful aspects of existence. Even though I went to school, I wanted more out of life. I didn’t feel that I was living really meaningful life at all. So, I started pursuing to grow and be changed. I knew I had a great future plans but doubted if I would come to that point where I could be what I wanted to be. I wanted to shun the unsuccessful, darkest and bitter side of my life and attend school in America and be productive once in life. I sought for coming to USA for a better and affordable educational system. And now I am able here in the USA to be sponsored by a great family. I had no family that would be able to send me to school back then in Ethiopia, so that I could create bright future. But now, thankfully I have a family that assures me of my future and be on my side whenever I am in need of help and provisions and support. And I am greatly thankful to God for giving me such a blessing and tremendous family.
"It's indeed a great and pleasurable privilege for me to be able to stand here tonight as a valedictorian student. For that reason I would like to take a time to say also thank you for being given this opportunity. My gratitude goes to all our teachers, the principal, Mrs. L and administrator, Mrs. Poeller. Thank you again all the teachers, for the commitment and the sacrifice you make every moment to sustain the integrity of the school and to assist and help students to achieve great things and grow both educationally and spiritually.
"Christian Academy of Western New York has always been academically and spiritually a blessing school. All I can say is I am very thankful for the existence of this school in Buffalo. I believe also my fellow graduates have grown very much in all things, spiritually with God, and in terms of fellowship and relationship with one another and in gaining knowledge.
"Following, it’s my pleasure to mention each of our high school teachers one by one and appreciate them for their great and unforgettable teachings and examples they have always displayed in or out of the class.
"Teachers, we can never thank you enough for everything you have done for all of us. This moment is all the result of your hard working and sacrifice you have made and the investment have invested on us. You didn’t only teach us subjects and lessons but also good personality, attitude and moral conduct.
"Mr. Cesar, your bible teaching will surely always remain within me. For you have greatly influenced me in many aspects. In fact, you have influenced and challenged all of us.
"Mr. Evans, I have learned from you forgiving, calmness, tolerance, loving and respecting.
"Mr. Doores, you always believe in students that they can do anything if they are willing to do anything. Your patience and willingness to work with any student is very remarkable.
"Mrs. Plyler, your commitment, your hard working, and how you take your Job seriously has always been very significantly in our lives.
"Mrs. Elias, one of the things I have noticed about you is that, you are a friendly teacher. Your desire to help any student and the inclination and tendency you contain to answer any question has grown us.
"I am very humbled and honored to be titled as a valedictorian student of 2016 at CAWNY. And I give all the credit and the glory to God. Surely, if it would not have been for Him, I would not be here and be able to do nothing. So, above all things and above any one, I am genuinely humbled to glorify God, who is the foundation of my existence.
"I wish you all a great future! Congratulations, Class of 2016!"
“I have attended CAWNY for twelve years now and through the good and the bad, I have learned so much. …I want to tell of some of the small parts of this school that truly make it great. The staff at CAWNY has always been so kind, and they go out of their way to make your day easier. I’ve been able to talk to them about anything whether it’s school-related or not. This may be my last days as a CAWNY student, but I will never lose or forget the values that I’ve learned while attending here.
“Lately, many people have been asking questions about my future, but one question that honestly isn’t easy to answer is ‘why am I ready to graduate high school?” I will truly miss this place when I’m finished, especially the people because a relationship is more important than any good grade. I am ready to graduate and move on because it’s time for me to go out into the real world. Though I’m still unsure of what I want to do with my life, I do know one thing, in whatever I do, I want to glorify my God…”
- - -
“I’ve been going to the Christian Academy since I was in 4th grade. I have been taught a lot and have learned a lot of information in many different subjects. It has not only been an amazing and unforgettable experience, but I have grown very close to the Lord and have a true relationship with Christ. I have formed a lot of close relationships with many students and I’m sad to realize I will not see this great group of friends on a daily basis anymore…
“…my overall experience with the Christian Academy of Western New York has been an amazing and unforgettable one, and I encourage the people still attending CAWNY to stay strong and never take this school for granted and know that they are lucky to attend a school as great as this one. I want to thank all my teachers and administrators that have kept me in line and straight and helped me stay strong throughout all my years at CAWNY. For they were a huge influence on how I grew and what I have become today. I also hope that a lot more people will hear about this great school and experience their school life here. [For me,] it was an unforgettable and life-changing [experience].”
- - -
“One of the most important things I learned about myself through CAWNY is how to be a good Christian and disciple of God. I was a Christian before I came to the school because of my family [life]…, but I never really thought about showing that trust in God outside my home. CAWNY helped me with that. Before, I thought I was one of the only kids in the entire world who believed in God, but then I see all these kids and young adults talking about God all the time. It was difficult at my old school to get anyone to even notice me, but here is a school where everyone was fair and everyone was friendly to me. Now, I can’t wait to see what [God] has in store for me in the future.”
- - -
"It used to be very difficult for me as a 14 and 15-year-old to express myself outwardlyy or speak what I thought was right due to my fear of being judged. I have learned to stand up for myself and even others in given situations. Now, I possess a strong social, mental and creative spirit that I developed over my four years of high school and I serve and honor God with no worries. I believe that I am spiritually strong enough to leave Christian education behind and grow in it myself as the years go by. I will always keep my faith in Jesus Christ and grow my faith stronger with Him as I leave CAWNY."
“I was nervous at first about coming to CAWNY because most of my friends were attending a high school closer to my city. But over the past four years, I have made new friends and great memories. I think that I am prepared for college because CAWNY has given me tools that I need for life beyond high school. Being at this school has taught me how important it is to have God in my life and to help others in need.
“I think coming to Christian Academy of Western New York has made me stronger in my faith. Even though my former school was a [specific denominational] school, I didn’t think of myself as a true Christian. Incorporating God into everything that we do here has made my relationship stronger with the Lord. Everyday, Mrs. L tells us to go more God’s way than our own way. I think this statement will be good to apply to my life after high school since I’ll be going out into the world. It’s important to not be tempted by things of this world. I always know not to replace God with anything.
“As I say goodbye to Christian Academy, I feel that I am a better Christian having attended a Christian school. Doing Community Service and helping out at the soup kitchen has made me more sensitive towards the needs of others. I realize that I shouldn’t make everything about me.
“I feel grateful that I have received a Christian education. CAWNY has prepared me for my future. I will always be thankful toward the faculty for preparing us for life outside of high school. I’ll never forget all of the memories I made with friends and family.”
- - -
“…Christian Academy of Western New York has taught me a lot about Christ Jesus our Savior… I know that true joy comes from the gift of God, not circumstances or environments. He gives me the strength to be faithful to Him in every aspect of my life.”
- - -
“Because of the blessing of a Christian high school education, I have been shaped into a young woman with a firm foundation in the Truth. Throughout my high school years, I have had the blessing of many great teachers whose guidance and love for Christ have inspired me to maximize my full potential: academically, personally and spiritually.
“Because I was lucky enough to be placed in a Christian education at a young age, I have no doubt that I will remain spiritually sound after high school. I am unsure of how I will adjust to leaving a Christian-based educational system, but I will never lose sight of my relationship with Christ. I know His place for my life is far greater than any other.”
- - -
“I came to the Christian Academy in seventh grade, and it wasn’t at all as I expected it to be. I came from a public school in Buffalo, so to go to a private Christian school was a drastic change. The teachers actually cared if you weren’t doing well in their class and worried if you didn’t show up to class. In public school, they couldn’t care less if you did or didn’t pass…”
"Throughout my whole high school experience [at CAWNY], I would say I have grown the most as a person in the last year. I have come to the realization that it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks, as long as I am pleasing to God. Knowing that I am important to God has helped me in every area of my life…”
"I do feel closer to [God] since I have been in a Christian school and around Christian people. I feel comfortable going into the real world that is not Christian-based, but I will miss it. I will still continue on my Christian walk, but it will be harder without the constant reminder that CAWNY gave to me, ‘to do the good and right thing,’ like Mrs. L always says.”
- - -
“My most valuable experience in High School was during my last year. I completed my Community Service hours helping with Mrs. Engert’s 2nd and 3rd grade classes. I had a great experience! It was very rewarding to be able to help all of them and Mrs. Engert with whatever was needed…. [As I graduate,] I guess I’ll just have to see what God has in store for me. All I can do is hold on to the faith that has been instilled in me and jump!”
- - -
“…To faculty, family, friends and honored guests, thank you for your presence and continued support at this very special ceremony. I would especially like to acknowledge the faculty. Their commitment to educating young minds in preparation for life beyond these halls should not go unmentioned. You are appreciated.
“…It is not lost on me how fortunate I am to have attended the Christian Academy of Western New York; a small, Christ-based school with [small] class sizes and a qualified staff, whose demeanor is spiced with a fundamental assurance of the goodness and mercy of a loving God. My social horizons have been expanded due to exposure to classmates from other nations. I have grown. Amazingly, I don’t know when it happened, this clarity, this epiphany. But, because of it, things are clearer now. I have a greater appreciation for the sacrifices in time and resources from my parents; the sharing of knowledge and insight into life and learning from teachers; and friendships and memories that will sustain me in times good and bad.
“With this appreciation comes an understanding that my association with CAWNY will not end tonight with the awarding of a diploma, a sincere hug, or a tearful goodbye. CAWNY has become a part of me, and I pledge to carry it forward in a manner that reflects favorably on all associated with it.
“…Always remember God’s first and second greatest commandments: To love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul and all your strength. And to love your neighbor as yourself. So, be the mirror that reflects His light. May God bless you all!” (Salutatorian, Class of 2015)
(please keep in mind as you read these that English is not their first language)
International Students from European countries
“My high school experience at Christian Academy of Western New York started on September 5, 2014, hosted by the school during my exchange year program in the United States. I did not expect to end up here. I had a completely different perspective from my study abroad program, but I had the best, unexpected experience from it. I have never spent time thinking about how high school experience affected me as a person, but now, at the end of my last year of high school, I constantly stop and think how this impacted me: CAWNY has had me as a student and now I have CAWNY in me.
“Waking up in the morning and getting ready to leave for school is less difficult when you know and you enjoy the place where are you going to. Attending CAWNY makes me feel in this way, as I am part of a big family.
“Attending CAWNY, I have [learned] that I will never stop learning from others; everyone has a different background and story. Getting closer with so many people from different nationalities and cultures opened my eyes to the world.
“Having to deal alone with real life problems during my study abroad experience in Western New York helped me to grow a lot; becoming an international student is beyond doubt the most dynamic experience that anyone can ever take, and I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to spend it in a school environment as CAWNY, lead here by God.
"Although faith is something that comes from the deepest of our heart and cannot be taught by anyone else but ourselves, attending a Christian academy gave me a strong Christian basis, more than the other twelve years of education did. During my senior year, I grew a lot inside of me, spiritually and emotionally, finding answers and comfort by the Word of God.
"The best moments I spent at CAWNY were during Chapel. I took a lot from it, that weekly hour spent every Wednesday morning with the rest of the high school with different speakers and different stories. God pulled different messages into my heart from which I take inspiration every day. Spirituality from different points of view touches everyone; that is a great thing that enriched me throughout my Senior Year. Going to school increased not only knowledge in school subjects, but also my way of seeing life from a Christian perspective. This gets me ready to be a valuable and spiritually rich member of the society and I am sure that being educated from a Christian school will help me to [make] wiser decisions and well thought out [choices] in life.
"The best experience that sums up my personal and spiritual growth during my Senior Year at CAWNY was the volunteer experience in Niagara Falls with Mrs. Plyler and my Senior English class. We were able to apply what we had read in the book, Homeless at Harvard, coming in contact with the homeless community. But the best part of it was the moment of sharing with the homeless people that I had the privilege to eat dinner with that night and talking to them. That was a perfect occasion when I could experience the transition between the life in school and the outside world; talking to someone who lived in brokenness and still had faith in God, fortifies me in facing real world problems.”
- - -
“Throughout this year at CAWNY, I have grown not only academically, but also spiritually. I learned to speak a language that was completely foreign to me. Interacting with people from other countries and with different cultures taught me a lot… I tried things I never thought I would. I learned basics in a lot of languages and I made real friendships. I learned to be open-minded, resolved and determined. This year made me think about religion and what God means to me. These are questions I had never thought about. I wasn’t the Christian-like kind of thing. But attending to CAWNY made me be involved. Now that I know more about the topic I can say that I grew spiritually, that with God by my side anything is possible and that really encourages me.
“The most valuable experience that I had during my year at Christian Academy was during camp. The good thing about studying in a small school is that you get to know everyone in a deeper way. Camp brought us all together, we learned more about each other and about God and we did it in a really fun way. During the campfire, the speaker…really made sense to me and that was when I first started listening to the Word of God.
“Leaving Christian education behind means to fall into the unknown. Right now, I feel joy, but also I feel scared, mostly from not knowing what to expect and also knowing how critical college is. I will miss the daily Bible teaching, the everyday open prayer, the Biblical worldview throughout each subject, and the smaller environment, a big family. Leaving Christian high school behind doesn’t mean to stop believing in God, it just means making the effort of having a relationship with Him without having someone to tell you to do it.”
International Student from an African country
"I will always try to work on becoming a master of academic achievements, personal growth and Christ-like behavior. It has always been my desire to be an example to others and to show Christ-like mind and attitude.
"I strongly feel that my sprituality has amazingly developed since I started attending Christian Academy of Western New York. Going to Bible class and socializing and being surrounded by Christian students and people has greatly challenged me to grow more. I feel I am at a very new and different spiritual level that will continue to grow as I leave Christian school behind."
International Student from a Central American country
“As I leave the Christian Academy, I see that this is going to be the hardest part. Now going into a non-spiritual setting is going to be challenging. This will really test my faith. But, I feel like this will be God’s test for me and the Christian Academy has prepared me for that test.
“The Christian Academy has changed my life definitely for the better. This school has given my faith depth and will help me prepare for my walk with God. Although it was hard for me to leave home and all friends and family, I’m glad I did. I will now be able to look at my future with my mind clear knowing God and my newfound skills will help me through.”
International Students from a Communist countries
“There is…big difference in high school between [home country] and America. We must do twenty-five hours per year [of] Community Service. This year, I went to rescue mission to serve food, did some garden planning, helped church and write cards for Senior Center. I enjoyed doing this a lot. Wherever I go after high school, I will not give up each opportunity of doing community service to bring convenience to people. Instead of payment, I received people’s [respect] and grateful words.
“The most important thing here is I learned a lot about God. Host parents and school help me make a connection between me and God. I am an international student from [home country] and studying in America now. Christian is a word that I never touched before. I was shocked about everything I saw. It is hard to believe Christian can make such a big influence in people’s life. The meaning of Christian for me are rules that we are able to believe and obey. People believe God really exists. It can teach us not only how to forgive others, but also save life of us.
“I still remember the first English class is talking about faith. Faith is an important element of Christian. Faith means a guide to me in my life. It is light on my path. Because of faith, I have a goal in my life. And I find my way to success. Success for me doesn’t only mean happiness and desire. But also means another way to grow up. Faith is exit in a maze. When we feel break down, don’t give up on ourselves. Faith can take us away from dilemma. Faith is the best gift that God gives us. Faith cannot only improve people’s moral realm, but also can shape people’s moral personality. Thinking in different ways, faith gives us multiple methods to solve problems. People should have faith in their life. Faith gives us belief, creative and confidence. Don’t lose your faith anytime. Lost faith means lost life. From now [on], I need to learn more verses from Bible and feel how great is God.”
- - -
"[Christian Academy of Western New York] is not a big school, but it is warm and cozy, like a real home. Even though there isn't a large number of students, they are from various countries: China, [South] Korea, Mexico, Italy, Germany.... Therefore, students in our school could share different culture backgrounds with others. At this small school, I learned more than what I could learn from a big school. I can sit down with my teachers, asking questions that I don't understand but very important to an international student with language barrier like me. I strongly believe that an individual education does make a difference and the way that Christian Academy has educated me made that difference. I learned from each teacher their passion in teaching and loving God.
"At this point, I can say that I understand growing up is not just going off to college or getting a job to support myself, Christian Academy has taught me that growing up is a process of growing academically, socially, spiritually and emotionally."
- - -
"As I received Christian education...I felt like I have grown more as a person spiritually. I am so grateful to all teachers here who devote their time to us and take care of us for these school years.
"Treating other just like to myself and doing good and right things became my principle of life. I...listened to God's words to forgive and be kind. ...I will remember God's words to be mercy."