Top of the class


As the end of her years at Seymour Christian Academy quickly approaches, Shalynn Cornwell reflects on everything she has accomplished.

She has been involved in drama and National Honor Society.

She found success on the volleyball court until suffering a knee injury her senior year, but she still rallied behind the team.

She also was involved with her church and participated in community service activities.

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To top it off, she’s the valedictorian of the Class of 2016, which will graduate at 2 p.m. Saturday at The Tabernacle in downtown Seymour.

“I spent my high school years wanting the next thing and the next thing and (being) so excited for it,” Cornwell said. “Now that I’m standing at the end, I’m wishing I wasn’t graduating because it’s scary. I definitely say I’m excited, but it’s a scary step going forward.”

Cornwell has a long history with Seymour Christian Academy. She attended day care and preschool at the facility before starting kindergarten and continuing there through junior high and high school.

“It’s just a good environment,” she said. “It’s clean and godly and sheltered, and you’re learning academics in smaller classes with better student-teacher ratio, so I got the help I needed.”

In her graduating class, Cornwell is one of three girls, and there are three boys.

“We’re just close-knit and tight and have good inside jokes, and we can hang out,” she said. “It’s a good support system. When you need help with something, there’s probably somebody in your group that knows, and then you can always help each other. You’re just always there with each other. I think we’re much tighter knit in a smaller setting.”

Cornwell said one of her favorite school activities was volleyball. The school offers an elementary volleyball league to allow girls to become involved at an early age.

Cornwell played junior varsity and varsity throughout her high school career, and the team typically played more than 20 matches each season, mainly competing against other private schools.

A highlight came a couple of years ago when the team competed in five tournaments and won all but one of them.

“It’s just something where you have the whole team dynamic, and it’s like a tight-knit group,” Cornwell said. “You’re going to tournaments, you’re meeting new people and you’re learning different skills. You’re learning leadership and working as a team, and you’ve got to lose gracefully, and you’ve got to win gracefully.”

Even though she couldn’t play her senior year, Cornwell said, she was on the sidelines supporting her teammates when she could.

“It’s good to support your team, but it’s also like, ‘I want to help you,’ but you can’t,” she said.

With drama, Cornwell said, the students created all of the backdrops and costumes. The size of the production determined how many musicals or plays the students would do in a school year, she said.

“The one this year took a lot of work,” she said. “It’s fun to invite people to see us perform.”

Outside of the classroom, Cornwell helps others learn. At her church, The Tabernacle, she teaches 2- to 5-year-olds on Wednesday nights.

“There can be over 20 of them at times, so it gets kind of chaotic, but I love it. It’s lots of fun,” she said.

Seymour Christian Academy promotes community service, so Cornwell often could be found helping out at Anchor House Family Assistance Center, Community Provisions of Jackson County and Lutheran Community Home.

“Being at Community Provisions, we’re helping fill the bags (with food in the pantry), but it’s like I could be on the other side, I could be the one needing the food,” she said. “So it keeps your eyes open, and you also walk away with a good feeling, like ‘I’ve done something to make a change.’ I think if you’re not helping, then you kind of lose sight. It just keeps it in perspective how blessed you are.”

After graduation, Cornwell plans to attend University of Southern Indiana in Evansville and study pre-pharmacy. She hopes to later attend Purdue University to become a pharmacist.

She said she grew up interested in the medical field, but she wasn’t a big fan of being around blood.

“You’re still educating people about their medicines and stuff, but you still get your white coat,” she said, smiling. “I was very torn earlier this year, and I did some job shadowing, and I just loved it.”

As she prepares for the real world, Cornwell offered some advice for her classmates.

“I would say to live in the now, but prepare for the future,” she said. “Spend your time enjoying what you’re doing now, but keep in the back of your head like you’ve got to prepare.”

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Name: Shalynn Cornwell

Age: 18

Hometown: Seymour

School: Seymour Christian Academy

School activities: Volleyball, National Honor Society, drama

Accomplishment: Valedictorian of the Class of 2016

Future plans: Attend University of Southern Indiana and study pre-pharmacy, then later attend Purdue University to become a pharmacist

Family: Parents, Clarence and Shannon Cornwell; two siblings

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What: Seymour Christian Academy graduation

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Tabernacle, 301 Indianapolis Ave., Seymour

Who: Six seniors will graduate


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