Williamsburg Christian Academy senior and class valedictorian Caroline Nice didn't have an easy path to success through the years at the school. A quiet child and riddled with anxiety, WCA's faculty, staff and fellow students helped her overcome her challenges with clinical depression....her testimony is transcribed below, copied from her recent social media post:
"By God's grace I was honored to be the valedictorian of my tiny class at Williamsburg Christian Academy. I was incredibly touched by the strong feedback that I got from my speech on Saturday. I have decided to post it because I want as many people as possible to be able to read my testimony and to see what God has done in my life at WCA.
Never would I ever have thought that I would be standing here before you today. I know that sounds cliché, but I really do mean it. I remember being in Kindergarten at Rawls Byrd Elementary School and being the only kid in the class that didn't know how to hold a pencil. Thanks to pencil grips, I've been able to move on from that. Fast forwarding a couple years, to first, second, third grade, I was in the "yellow" group. Otherwise known as the lowest level reading and math group. I am very much a perfectionist, which I consider a gift and a curse, and this killed me knowing that I was the worst at something. I very much struggled with testing anxiety, as many younger children do that my heart goes out for. Not only did I struggle academically, but also socially.
I rarely spoke a word when I was at school. The other kids would ask me why I didn't talk. Why was I so quiet? I didn't know how to answer. With everything in me I wanted to be just like them but the words just wouldn't come out. I feared rejection. This internal struggle resulted in anxiety and depression starting at just seven years old. In school, the combination of social and academic stress made me physically sick. The teacher would make me stay at my desk with a bucket. I would carry this stress with me back home. Those who witnessed my quiet self at school would have no idea how awful I treated my family. The mental overload that I faced at school caused me to act out towards my mom, dad, and sister.
It wasn't until I came to Williamsburg Christian Academy in the fourth grade that I experienced real peace. The first time that one of my classmates picked up my pencil when I dropped it or held the door open for me I was shocked. When my teachers worked with me through my anxiety instead of tossing me a bucket or helped my mom cope with my behavior at home, I experienced the peace of God. I cannot stand here and say that everything about WCA has been perfect but it was where I needed to be and for that I am so grateful. Yes, I still have anxiety and yes, I still have my ups and downs but what I also have is the knowledge that I'll never be alone because of Jesus Christ and a support system that is so rooted in him.
My mom, many of you know her, did not want to have children because she didn't want them to be like her. You see, my mom has also struggles with anxiety and feared she would pass it on. I would not trade having clinical anxiety and depression for any other mom. My mom is my rock, my best friend and I strive to be just like her. She is beautiful and selfless and is the reason why I am who I am and have gotten this far.
My dad works harder than anyone I know. He truly does everything as if he is working for the Lord. Even though he tends to think that I am his son, bringing me to work with him, assisting him in yard work, and even demolishing the back porch once, I love him with all my heart. My dad has made abounding sacrifices for our family and selflessly gives to others. He is my role model, the reason why I have achieved such high academic honors. Although I am not going on to pursue a degree in engineering at Virginia Tech, his alma mater, I know he is proud of everything I do.
My sister, Ashley, is my best friend. What I thought was the "end of the world" this summer turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me because as a result I grew so much more closer to her. After years of bickering, I have grown to adore my sister. I am going to miss you so much next year. I know you will be successful in everything you do and a blessing to everyone you come across. I know I am leaving you in good hands at WCA.
Zechariah 13:9 states, "This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like fire and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say 'They are my people' and they will say, 'The Lord is our God.'" As I finish this year of restoration and reflection, I cannot think of a better life verse. God does not expect us to be perfect. God puts our imperfections through the fire so that we will come out as pure and beautiful as gold and silver. Williamsburg Christian Academy has been my refiner's fire for the past nine years. It is more than just a school. It is a place that refines young men and women, with grace and love, to get towards the person that God wants them to be. I have learned that God does not use us for our strengths, but for our weaknesses. I could be standing here before you today, talking about my academic achievement and honors, but instead I am talking to you about my anxiety and depression. The advice that I would give to my peers and to anyone in the crowd would be to not be scared of vulnerability. Vulnerability is what makes us human, what makes us real. God uses our vulnerability for his glory. Yes, my achievements are something to be proud of but they are dim in compare to the real work that God is creating within me and the work that he is creating within all of you.
I truly do care for each and every one of you and wish you the best in everything you do. Thank you."
****Williamsburg Christian Academy's mission is to provide college preparatory instruction in a culture of grace through personalized learning in academics, arts, and athletics while building relationships that inspire students to serve their community and become Christ-centered leaders. Reach WCA at email@example.com****
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