‘You did good work:’ With graduation, SJVS students prepare for next steps

Michael Eisen, program coordinator for St. Johns Virtual School, acknowledged that the online-based high school program wasn’t for all students. But he commended the 18 graduates that stood before him Thursday afternoon for the drive and discipline they demonstrated in completing the curriculum successfully.


“You have climbed an extraordinarily unconventional mountain,” Eisen said, “and now are enjoying the view from the top.”

This year’s class of seniors held their commencement ceremony at First Coast Technical College in St. Augustine before a crowd of proud family members, friends, teachers and administrators.

St. Johns County school board member Tommy Allen told students they had every reason to be proud.

“The school district has prepared you for your next step, your next chapter, in life,” Allen said.

Allen emphasized that not only had they proven themselves academically but that their rising through the ranks of the district had prepared them to be young men and women of character.

Superintendent of Schools Tim Forson said he was “in awe” of this group of students who had chosen the path of virtual learning, often balancing other activities or jobs outside of their studies.

Graduating senior Natalia Sanchez, winner of the district’s Character Counts Award, addressed her fellow classmates, saying that while graduation had often seemed far off in the distance, the day had finally arrived when they could appreciate all they had sacrificed to get to this point.

“Now, this says something about us — our discipline, and most importantly, our character,” said Sanchez, who fit in hours of ballet practice around her academics in the virtual program.

Sanchez said she knew that fortitude would serve she and other graduates well in the future.

Valedictorian Jake Marcionette also applauded the “flexibility” and “unique environment” of St. Johns Virtual School with allowing him to begin a professional career while working toward his diploma.

“My fellow graduates are all academically adventurous to take on the challenge of virtual school,” Marcionette said.

Marcionette added that the passion, patience and availability of his online teachers had made all the difference in making his experience in the program such a positive one.

“Take a moment today, it’s a pause … and just say, ‘Wow, I did good work,’ because you did — you did good work,” Forson concluded.