One student’s decision to transfer schools allowed the Sandy Creek Christian Academy Class of 2017 to make history.

After attending public schools growing up, Quincey Coffey chose to spend his senior year at the private school in Seymour.

On Saturday, he was among the 11-member graduating class that was the largest since the school opened as Seymour Christian Academy in 1982.

With the school changing its name at the beginning of the school year, this year’s class also was the first to receive Sandy Creek Christian Academy diplomas.

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Coffey said he isn’t going to take credit for helping make history.

“I don’t think I really did it. God brought me here, so it’s definitely something he did,” he said. “It’s a Christian school, so we’ve got to give everything to him.”

Once his family got involved in church, Coffey said he felt Sandy Creek was where he needed to be and where God was guiding him.

“It’s an absolute blessing to be accepted your last year of high school whenever there’s an even 10 kids and you’re the 11th man. I was new, but I fit right in. It is a family,” he said.

“Going to a public high school, you’re going to have a lot of fun, and there’s going to be a lot of things you won’t experience at a private school,” he said. “But something that you will experience at a private school is God, and you’ll experience family and just one-on-one and just being loved and feel like you’re needed, you have a role, you have a place to be and you have something to fulfill.”

As he moves beyond high school, Coffey said he will never forget how everyone welcomed him at Sandy Creek.

“I don’t think I would pick any person to take any of the seniors’ place,” he said. “Definitely they are here for a reason, and we’re all together for a reason.”

While he was only at the school for a year, three of his classmates were there since the beginning of their educations.

Kara Criswell, Drew Mains and Matthew Arrowood all started there in preschool and stayed all the way through.

At one point, Criswell had to take a semester off to attend a public school, but she wound up returning.

“It’s like a big, ginormous family,” she said. “We’re all super-close, and we know each other like brother and sister. It’s just a big, happy family.”

Academically, she said she likes how the teachers care about the students.

Mains agreed, saying the small student-to-teacher ratio allows students to get a more hands-on, one-on-one experience.

He said that helped him become the class valedictorian.

“I don’t think I would be in the place where I am if I didn’t have as much access to help as I did versus going somewhere where the teacher is responsible for over 30 kids for one class,” he said. “Really, for me, it has just been a blessing. It has opened a lot of doors for me going into the future for more opportunities in college, so it has been really special for me.”

Arrowood said he likes how the school instills godly principles.

“A lot of people want to go to public schools and public universities to get the real world, but what I’ve always kind of compared it to is you don’t prepare a soldier for battle by sending them into battle. You put them in boot camp,” he said.

“That’s what I feel like this school has been for us,” he said. “It has been, ‘These are the situations you’re going to go through, and this is how you can get through them.’ We’ve always had people that are very solid in their faith, and they have really worked hard to encourage us and to teach us.”‘

The number of students in their class fluctuated over the years but gradually increased throughout high school.

Laurel Mills said she attended public schools until switching to Seymour Christian Academy in eighth grade.

“At first, I kind of took it for granted once I started getting into the school,” she said. “But we had so much opportunity. We have opportunity at our churches, we have opportunity in our chapel, we lead things, we have leaders all around us, so the opportunity to actually do something worth doing is kind of cool.”

She wound up as the class salutatorian and said it was nice to accomplish a personal goal.

All four plan to attend college.

Criswell will study biology at the University of Southern Indiana; Mains is going to Indiana Bible College to study theology and then attend Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis for a bachelor’s degree in political science and then possibly pursue a law degree; Arrowood is heading to Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus to study history and also will pursue his minister’s license through United Pentecostal Church; and Mills is going to IUPUC to study education.

Criswell said graduation was exciting and nerve-racking at the same time.

“It’s exciting because you’ve made it and you’ve done it,” she said. “But it’s nerve-wracking because it’s where God’s going to take you next and where are you going to go, where are you going to be used.”

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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.