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Vidalia Heritage Academy Names 2024 Historian and Theologian

Vidalia Heritage Academy Names 2024 Historian and Theologian
Historian Rebecca Proenza
Vidalia Heritage Academy Names 2024 Historian and Theologian
Historian Rebecca Proenza

In addition to the traditional Valedictorian and Salutatorian, Vidalia Heritage Academy adds a unique feature for their seniors, the naming of Historian and Theologian within the class. This year, Rebecca Proenza and Julia O’Neal received the honors.

The title of Historian and Theologian is given each year to the students with the third and fourth highest cumulative GPAs in each class. These students will speak at the graduation ceremony, and were announced alongside Valedictorian Josey Harrell and Salutatorian John Williams at the Vidalia Heritage Academy High School Chapel Service on February 9.

Historian Rebecca Proenza is the daughter of Rick and Elisabeth Proenza. She has attended Vidalia Heritage Academy for 11 years, and has been a member of the school’s cross country, track, tennis, soccer, and spirit cheerleading teams. Proenza also participated in several clubs and organizations including Harvard Model Congress, National Honor Society, Greater Vidalia Youth Leadership, Memorial Health Meadows Hospital (MHMH) Medical Staff Youth Advisory Board, and the MHMH Youth Summer Volunteer Program.

She has gained several accolades along her high school years, including Heritage Honor Roll, Cross Country and Track Eagle Award, “Game Changer” Soccer Award, Student of the Month, Altamaha Area Cross Country Award and Honorable Mention, and a Certificate of Completion for 40 volunteer hours with Meadows Hospital. Proenza has also received several scholarships to help further her education after high school, such as the HOPE Scholarship, Georgia Southern Presidential Scholarship, Vidalia Rotary Club Smitty Snell Scholarship, Ernest Driggers Scholarship with Meadows Hospital, First Baptist Vidalia Church Music Ministry Scholarship, and Meadows Hospital Auxiliary Scholarship.

“To receive the Honor of VHA's 2024 Historian makes me feel very grateful. I am thankful for the opportunity to hold this title in representing Vidalia Heritage Academy's 2024 Class,” she remarked. “It is very rewarding to receive this honor according to my work and persistence accumulating over these past four years in High School. In my gratefulness, I thank and glorify my Lord for directing my steps and providing me the strength to complete this chapter of my life. “

Proenza continued, “I would love to give a huge ‘thank you’ to the people who helped me with scholarship applications and recommendation letters which include: Jeff McCormick, Cassie Neal, Beth O'Neal, Steve Miller, Brandi Zorn, and Roseann De-Jarnette. I am very thankful for these men and women who gave their time, work and thoughts to help benefit and encourage my financial path toward college.”

She also shared some words of wisdom to underclassmen. “As you enter your senior year, I advise you to pour into others,” Proenza emphasized. “Senior year becomes a very self-focused, independent, and individual year as you are not attending school as much, making college/ career decisions, and focusing on personal steps toward graduation.

“Although these are essential parts that need to be completed throughout senior year, I encourage you to not let them pull you away from your class and school community. Enjoy the moments with your classmates, pour into the underclassmen, and spend time at your school functions. Don't graduate with the regret of feeling distant or not connected with your friends and school community. Some friendships may last; however, the moment of being a high school student will not. That moment will become a memory; so let it be one you can enjoy and cherish.”

Julia O’Neal, daughter of Bill and Beth O’Neal, was named the school’s Class of 2024 Theologian. She has attended Vidalia Heritage Academy for the entirety of her academic career, and has participated in cross country, cheer, tennis, soccer, the National Honor Society, and Harvard Model Congress. While in high school, she received Heritage Honor Roll, Honorable Mention for Cross Country, Character Awards for the cheer and soccer teams, second place in the Rotary Club Speech Contest, and more. She has also completed over 40 hours of volunteer work at Memorial Health Meadows Hospital, and served as a member of the First Baptist Church of Vidalia’s sound and media team.

“I am beyond grateful for receiving the title of Theologian. These past 13 years have been a wonderful journey. I have had the opportunity to be taught by many encouraging and inspiring teachers that have not only led me educationally but also spiritually,” O’Neal commented. “I would like to thank my parents and grandparents. They have each been a steady source of love and support. They never shy away from an opportunity to encourage me. I am beyond grateful for them and every sacrifice they have made for me to be where I am at today.”

She continued, “If I could give one piece of advice to the underclassmen, it would be to get out of your comfort zone and try something new. This past year I had the opportunity to participate in a sport I had never played before, soccer. By playing soccer, I not only learned about the sport itself but the importance of teamwork. I strongly believe it plays a vital role in the success of any team. Because I stepped out of my comfort zone, I was able to acquire new skills, gain confidence in myself, and create lasting memories.”

Both Proenza and O’Neal will graduate alongside their classmates on Saturday, May 18, at 9 a.m. at the First Baptist Church in Vidalia.

Theologian Julia O’Neal

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