Senior Spotlights: Reid Van de Vate and Mary Ella Carroll
REID VAN DE VATE, VALEDICTORIAN
For Reid Van de Vate ‘23, when it came time to enroll in preschool, there was only one option.With strong ties to MPCS, Reid was bound to be a “lifer.” His mother, Jennifer, taught in the lower school for eight years. Reid’s oldest brother, Luke, graduated in the class of 2013, alongside Luke’s wife, Mckenna, who currently teaches at MPCS. And, his brother, Clay, was the valedictorian for the class of 2017. In remarkable fashion, Reid is also the class valedictorian.
Reid’s academic success comes as the result of diligent effort, marked by recognition as an AP Scholar, a Governor’s Honors Program Semifinalist, a National Merit Commended Scholar, and an Honor Roll recipient. He has also received the Georgia Merit Award, the AP US Government Certificate of Outstanding Achievement, the Honors Pre-Calculus Certificate of Outstanding Achievement, and awards for AP Microeconomics, AP British Literature, and AP Statistics.
Reid was recognized by high school faculty and staff with the Atlanta Journal Cup, an award his brother also received in 2017 and his mother received in 1987. He shares, “Being a pursuer of excellence means striving to do the absolute most that you can with the talents you are given. This is a prevalent value at MPCS, where teachers push their students to perform at high standards and give one-hundred-percent effort in any class.”
Never one to stay buried in his studies, Reid packs his schedule full with activities, from extracurriculars (Beta Club, Key Club, Mock Trial, Mu Alpha Theta, National Honor Society, Peer Mentoring Initiative, Spanish National Honor Society) to tennis and community service.
Following three years of playing for MPC tennis, Reid played all four years of high school varsity tennis, continuing his family’s 17-year streak of playing tennis at MPCS. He also regularly organized monthly volunteer groups and says it’s part of living a life that is Christ centered. “I most often exercise servant-leadership by leading frequent service opportunities to Sterling Estates Memory Care, where we socialize, play games, and make crafts with the residents,” he says.
After participating in a summer accounting internship at C.W. Matthews, Reid has made plans to study business and pursue a career in this area. When he heads off to Georgia Tech this fall, Reid says he’ll miss the MPCS community the most: “I believe that it will be impossible for any large university to create the same sense of an accepting community as MPCS has. At MPCS, I believe that students are almost universally accepting of each other and are genuinely interested in maintaining the well-being of one another.”
Indeed, Reid says MPCS helps students grow in both their faith and intellectual ability, while offering a place for all. He shares, “I would tell a prospective student that they have nothing to worry about if they choose to go to Mount Paran because they will be in an extremely accepting community of staff and students, and their teachers will prepare them for college better than any other school could.”
Mother, Jennifer Van de Vate, says of her family’s 17 years at MPCS, “Mount Paran’s teachers and staff have done an outstanding job preparing my boys for college (and life beyond school). Reid will be well-prepared and ready to take on undergraduate life [at college]! Most importantly, Mount Paran has provided our children a strong Biblical background and Christian understanding and world-view. Mount Paran taught my boys to respect others and walk in Truth. What more could a parent ask for?"
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. - Psalm 23
MARY ELLA CARROLL, SALUTATORIAN
“I think MPCS is a very special place,” says class of 2023 salutatorian Mary Ella Carroll. “I wouldn’t trade my years here at Mount Paran for anything else in the world.” As a student who’s spent her entire academic career at Mount Paran Christian School, Mary Ella certainly knows the ins and outs of what makes this place so special: “The teachers really care about us. They care about our well-being, as well as our academic performance and spiritual life.”
For “lifer” Mary Ella, the MPCS experience has been chock-full of activities. She’s won a State championship title in softball alongside her Lady Eagles teammates. She’s also participated in fishing, rec league softball, Beta Club, Key Club, Mu Alpha Theta, National Honor Society, Peer Mentoring Initiative, PromRED, Spanish National Honor Society, Student Government Association, 11:1 Effect, dance, Dozier School of Arts, drama, orchestra, show choir, and service opportunities with Mission 1:27, Horizon League Baseball, and Calvary Children’s Home.
While some students may find it a challenge to balance so many extracurricular activities with academics, Mary Ella has put in the effort, and it’s paid off. “I always try to do my best and be successful in everything I do,” she says. “And, I am a major perfectionist.” Mary Ella is an AP Scholar, Head of School Honor Roll student, and selected as the MPCS PAGE STAR Student. She has also been recognized as an AP Scholar with Distinction, a National Merit Commended Student, and a recipient of the UGA Certificate of Merit.
Being Christ-centered and community oriented are the by-products of spending 15 years in a covenantal Christian school community. Mary Ella says she strives to remain positive and to try to live her life in a way that glorifies God. She also aspires to help those in her community. So, it should come as no surprise that this brilliant and kind-hearted servant-leader is considering a future career in the medical field after she earns her degree in Biomedical Engineering from Georgia Tech.
Of her time at the school, Mary Ella’s parents share, “While we are extremely proud of Mary Ella's numerous scholastic achievements in the rigorous academic setting, we are also blessed that Mary Ella has grown into a beautiful, Godly young woman, in part, because of the positive influence MPCS has had on her life over the past 15 years.”
Mary Ella leaves some parting words of advice to students at Mount Paran Christian School: “My life would not have been the same if I didn’t attend MPCS. I would say to get involved in a wide variety of things because it will help you adjust and meet lots of new people.”
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. - Proverbs 3:5-6