On a very hot day in August of 2013 parents and students spent the morning opening crates, putting together desks and chairs, cleaning floors and moving white boards. Later that SAME afternoon, Oxford Preparatory School opened its doors for the first time to welcome students. For the first three years of the school’s existence, students attended classes in mobile units. Each year the story of OPS has unfolded as new students and their families have joined together to grow the school. On Saturday, June 10 OPS realized a dream as they conducted their inaugural commencement ceremony.
In the presence of over 500 guests, 43 Oxford Prep students received their high school diplomas. Students in this class have successfully completed over 640 college credit hours through AP coursework/testing and the partnership with Vance Granville’s CCP program and many are entering college as sophomores. Over 86% of the class have been accepted into four year colleges. Students have committed to attending UNC-CH, NCSU, UNC-W, UNC-C, ECU, Appalachian, University of Denver, University of South Carolina, Campbell, Barton, A&T, Belmont-Abbey, UNC-Greensboro and others. Students have given more than a thousand hours of service back to the communities around us in addition to being part of conference championship teams in golf, baseball and men’s cross country.
After musical selection by the orchestra under the leadership of Director Jason Pulley and the performance of Omnia Sol (Let Your Heart be Staid) by the concert choir led by director Sarah Stallsmith, Jaylen Edwards, daughter of Billie Culbreath of Oxford, was chosen to speak by the teaching staff as the representative of the Spirit of the Griffin – someone who is dedicated to reaching farther than they thought they could, giving tirelessly back to the community, taking on leadership roles in a variety of ways and supporting the school at all times. She spoke about the beginning of the school and then reflected on all she had gained, including earning enough hours to enter UNC-G in the fall as a second semester sophomore in the fall, by being a part of the beginning of OPS.
Five students graduated Summa cum Laude including Morgan Daniels, Jackson Grissom, Rachel Sanya, Molly Stock and Hunter Strickland. To receive Summa cum Laude status students were required to maintain a GPA greater than 4.5. Students from this group chose Jackson Grissom, son of David and Alex Grissom, to represent them as someone who has demonstrated excellence in all that he does and who has attained high levels of academic achievement, service and leadership. Jackson, who will be a part of the honors college at Appalachian in the fall, brought his sense of humor to the audience as he reminisced about rising from the trailers, having to work through really hard classes including those at VGCC, making new friends, listening to lectures both inside AND outside of the classroom, beginning traditions and leaving a legacy for others to enjoy.
Acknowledging that all students had taken at least one college level course, completed more than 27 credits including at least 4 science and 3 foreign language courses, and had given a minimum of 15 service hours per year, Executive Director and school founder Andrew Swanner presented 43 candidates for degrees to Chairman of the Board, Kim Hicks. Assisted by Chief Marshal Catherine Stallsmith and Marshal Whitt Daniel, students were presented with diplomas.
The new Griffin alma mater, “Griffins Rise,” composed as a senior fine arts project by Katherine Redman, Class of 2018, was then performed by the OPS Concert Chorus and accompanied by the composer. In the lyrics Ms. Redman urges students to “Rise, Griffins, Rise. Even if it’s hard to try. A lion’s heart and eagle’s wings cloaked in knowledge and in dreams soar on high and Arise and you’ll see that you can fly.”
On Saturday afternoon 43 Griffins proved that they indeed could rise and fly. Assistant Director Victoria Bradsher closed the ceremony by presenting the first group of OPS alumni to the audience and noted that they are now ready to fly off to new beginnings.
Oxford Preparatory School
6041 Landis Rd.
Oxford NC 27565