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ELCA plans invitation-only commencement
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ELCA plans invitation-only commencement

East Linn Christian Academy will host an invitation-only commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 6, for the 27-member class of 2020.

The event will cap a challenging second semester for the school, which quickly moved to online learning in response to the spread of COVID-19.

Salutatorian Christian Wilson said the academic part of the transition was fairly simple.

“It was different being home and all, but it wasn’t awful. At our school we’ve been using Chromebooks for the last three or four years so we already had some online systems going,” Wilson said. “So when we didn’t have school at the school, it wasn’t awful, it was pretty easy, actually. I kind of liked it. I could get all my work done pretty quick and then have some free time.”

Valedictorian Susannah Cray agreed that the classroom transition was less difficult than the lack of personal interaction with fellow students and teachers.

“We already had a pretty good foundation for online at East Linn because we used Google classroom to do work,” Cray said.

She earned the honor of being named valedictorian by posting a 4.0 grade-point average, edging Wilson, who finished with a 3.9 GPA. That wasn’t specifically her goal when she entered East Linn Christian.

“It wasn’t so much that I decided I was going to be valedictorian to begin with. It was more that I always tried to get straight A’s. I tried to do things as well as I could, but then I kind of realized that was where that was taking me and it did become a goal,” Cray said.

Cray is the daughter of William and Vicki Cray. Her mother is English and she was born in England before moving with her family to the central African nation of Chad. They lived there for about a decade, moving to Oregon just before Susannah entered sixth grade.

“My parents worked as missionaries. That’s how they met,” Cray said.

She has enjoyed her international life, which also includes regular trips to England to visit friends and family. Those relationships, as well as the friendships she formed in Chad, remain important to her, even as Oregon has become her home.

Cray expects to attend Oregon State University this fall. She is interested in both political science and civil engineering. She is currently leaning more toward the engineering path.

“All my life I’ve loved art and design, but I also like math and science, so civil engineering was the place to combine those and apply them to real-world situations. It was kind of a roundabout route to that,” Cray said.

Wilson, the son of Steve and Tiffany Wilson, is currently working for Stutzman Services and plans to continue with the company.

He attended East Linn Christian all the way from preschool through his senior year and enjoyed the private school experience.

“It’s a good school,” Wilson said.

In looking back at his senior year, he wanted to recognize the loss of ELCA teacher Mike Reardon, who died March 1 at age 53.

“I really enjoyed having him as a teacher. I had him all four years and he was a really great guy,” Wilson said.

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