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Congratulations MPCS Valedictorian and Salutatorian

Congratulations MPCS Valedictorian and Salutatorian
Congratulations MPCS Valedictorian and Salutatorian
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Congratulations MPCS Valedictorian and Salutatorian

Watch the 2024 Senior Spotlights video:


Sydney McCune, Valedictorian 

For Valedictorian Sydney McCune, community building and support are two of the most impacting factors of her academic and spiritual development at Mount Paran Christian School. As one that has spent her entire academic life at MPCS, Sydney reflects back on the supportive environment that takes place due to the preschool-twelfth grade campus where she grew up. “Students of all ages support each other. For example, as a senior, I helped organize the library of a third grade classroom, which was special because I was in that same classroom in third grade. At other times, younger students support older students, such as when elementary-age students wrote notes for all the seniors this year.” Spending her academic life at MPCS has definitely had a positive impact on Sydney academically and socially as a part of the MPCS family and community.

The investment into each student’s happiness and success by the teachers, staff, and volunteers resonated its effect on Sydney exponentially and lives on in the memories that she will treasure as a student. “Some of my favorite memories are from going to the library for class reading time and book fairs as a lower school student… Wandering through aisles of books, picking out posters, and finding fun pens and erasers to bring home from the bookfair are definitely some one of my most special memories as an MPCS student!”

That investment made by the faculty of MPCS certainly paid off for Sydney, as did her diligence to succeed in everything she did. Her triumphs and recognitions include being named as an AP Scholar with Distinction; University of Georgia Certificate of Merit Recipient; being selected to the Governor’s Honors program in Social Studies, Mathematics, Science, and Communicative Arts; achieving honor roll; and being named as a National Merit Scholar Finalist. If success could be measured academically, it would almost definitely be measured similarly to being a National Merit Scholar Finalist. Finalists are the highest scorers in each of the 50 states and represent less than one percent of each state's high school seniors. They are in the top 1% of all test takers. 

However, Sydney is not one to let idleness take hold, as her extracurricular activities and awards were as packed as her AP schedule. While at MPCS, Sydney served as Mock Trial President; National Honor Society Officer; and Mu Alpha Theta Co-President. She also served as the Assistant Head Coach of the Hardage Farm swim team; Beta Club; National Spanish Honor Society; and was a leader in the Peer Mentoring Initiative. 

Her awards in extracurriculars seemed to coincide in numbers to her academic awards with over seven Outstanding Attorney Awards, one Outstanding Performance Award, and one year qualifying as a Mock Trial competitor at the State level in four years of competition in Mock Trial. She was also awarded with the Good Citizen's Award by the Daughters of the American Revolution and was selected as the 2024 Atlanta Journal-Constitution Cup winner. 

Her devotion to the MPCS mission statement of being a servant-leader was also prevalent in her years of dedication to community service in being a peer mentor; a classroom volunteer for preschool and lowerschool; serving as a child care volunteer at Woodstock City Church; and being a tutor and tutor coordinator for Mu Alpha Theta as well as being a volunteer for the Books for Africa program. 

Sydney’s choice of being a medical intern with Nissi Family Medicine has fed her desire for patient advocacy which she plans to focus on while she pursues pre-professional health studies and possibly double majors in political science or philosophy. As she heads off to Clemson University (Honors College) next year, she says what she will miss the most about Mount Paran Christian School are the teachers and the nurturing way that they nurtured her and all of her fellow students at MPCS. Her parents, Shannon and Steve McCune echo this sentiment as well: "As parents of two MPCS graduates, we are especially thankful for faculty and staff who go above and beyond to teach, love, and support our children on a daily basis. They have had so many godly role models who have tirelessly and lovingly poured into them."

Even with the strong community values that Sydney says that MPCS instilled in her, she still notes that she is grateful for how MPCS taught her to expand her reach into an even larger community. “MPCS has equipped me with both the empathy and understanding needed to approach conversations about faith. Mount Paran has also shown me the importance of being the hands and feet of Jesus.” 

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. —Proverbs 31:25.

Caroline Bethel, Salutatorian

Turning a page into a new chapter can be daunting for some, but Salutatorian Caroline Bethel feels ready due to her academic and spiritual foundation at MPCS from age three. “Mount Paran has prepared me both spiritually and intellectually for college and life after high school. Through the Bible classes, I have learned how to defend my faith in interactions I may have in a non-Christian environment. And through taking a larger course load during high school, I have developed good study habits and found how I learn best so that I can succeed in college.” 

Being a “lifer” at Mount Paran Christian has afforded Caroline with a springboard of solid relationships that she feels will empower her into her next learning experience, even though she will miss the teachers that made her feel known and loved along the way. “Mount Paran has allowed me to build close relationships with my peers and teachers that I will hold onto into college… I will miss the close relationships I have with several teachers here. I know at some schools and colleges the teachers just see teaching as a job and they don't take the time to build relationships with their students.” That isn’t the way it is at MPCS and Caroline and her parents are all so grateful. "Choosing Mount Paran Christian School is one of the best decisions we ever made. We are especially thankful for all of her teachers who walked along beside us as we raised Caroline. We appreciate all of the prayers prayed over her, encouraging cards sent to her, and the guidance we received from the school."

An Eagle since PreK3, Caroline has definitely been raised to move mountains and soar. To her, Mount Paran Christian School’s mission of being learning focused “means that in all situations I should strive to learn something new and actively be involved and participate in class.” Taking challenging courses seemed scary in the beginning, but Caroline learned that with challenge comes accomplishment, and she wanted to learn as much she could in the time that she had in high school. Mission accomplished! Caroline’s numerous accomplishments along the way have included achieving honor roll status; being recognized as an AP Scholar with distinction; being a Governor’s Honors Semifinalist in Science, Biology/Environmental Science; winning the Inspire and Think Award in FIRST® Robotics; and being the Mu Alpha Theta Co-President and Beta Club Vice President; as well as being inducted into the National Honor Society and the Spanish National Honor Society. 

Caroline has taken to heart MPCS’s mission on being Christ-centered and applies it to everything she does, even within her integral role on the Eagle Robotics team for the past six years. “To me, being Christ-centered means letting everything I do bring glory to God and recognizing God for what He has given me. Whether it's in the classroom, in the field of robotics, or serving in my community, I always try to ensure that my actions point back to God.” Even though each MPCS student is taught to share their time and gifts to the community, Caroline has extended her time and service beyond expectations by leading several events at Sterling Estates Memory Care getting other students at MPCS involved in events such as fall festivals, crafts, and “senior” proms at the center. Through both robotics and Mu Alpha Theta, she has also organized events at the Ridenour and Walton Ridge Adventure Centers afterschool enrichment programs that are free to the young residents of those communities. To encourage students to get involved and interested in STEM, Caroline led STEM days at the centers with robotics and coordinated math tutoring between MPCS Mu Alpha Theta students and the students at Ridenour and the Walton Adventure centers. 

With the foundation that MPCS has provided to her throughout her academic career, Caroline has committed to study Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech. She discovered her passion in engineering and the design process through an internship she pursued at a local manufacturing company, Wintech Inc.,  where she designed a product and won one out of three awards granted after presenting it to a panel of CEOs and engineers. Caroline continues to give all glory to God and appreciation to the solid footing that MPCS provided for her from an early age. “Mount Paran provides students with an education that is both academically and spiritually strong. It is clear that the teachers love each student and want them to succeed in academics and their faith.” We can’t wait to see all the mountains that Caroline will climb as God continues to chart her course. 

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” —Jeremiah 29:11