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2013 Graduates: Hope Christian Academy's grads will miss school's friendly style

This year's graduates at Hope Christian Academy in St. Paul Park are (from left) Dawn Burtman, Szu-Yu "Julia" Lu, Courage Idusogie, Michael Weiby, Josh Jones, Simon Hoekstra and Seth Peterson. Bulletin photo by Toni Lambert

The members of Hope Christian Academy's Class of 2013 will head in different directions after graduation but they have one thing in common: they will miss the one-on-one family feeling generated by students and staff at the independent, non-denominational Christian school in St. Paul Park.

"It's not often you come to school every day and know everyone will be friendly," said graduating senior Josh Jones of Cottage Grove. Jones plans to study for a degree in communications but will find a job first to save money for school.

Two of this year's graduates have already enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard.

Seth Peterson, a Cottage Grove resident, has been a student at HCA for six years. He likes the Christian environment.

"I like to be able to read the Bible every day," he said. "People here are always willing to help."

Peterson joined the Minnesota National Guard and will go to basic training at Ft. Jackson, S.C., in late July. After basic he will attend advanced training at Ft. Lee, Va., to become a power generator mechanic. "I've wanted to join the military since I was a kid," he said. "And I've always been very good with cars."

Fellow senior Courage Idusogie, a Woodbury resident, also joined the Minnesota National Guard. He will attend basic training in September at Ft. Benning, Ga.

"I want to serve my country," he said. Idusogie will train to be a cavalry scout.

Michael Weiby is another HCA graduate headed for a military career. He will study engineering and follow his father into the Air Force. Weiby, who was homeschooled for nine years before attending HCA, said he will miss his friends at the school. He likes the small size and the people.

Senior Szu-Yu Lu of Taipei, Taiwan, is "Julia" to fellow students. She has attended HCA for the past year. Her family wanted a Christian school for her and chose HCA. Julia said she has enjoyed her time at the school, especially the Friday afternoon field trips. Her favorite trip was to the Mall of America, and all of the graduates agreed with her about that trip.

The school's special Friday events range from community service projects such as Feed My Starving Children food-packing, to climbing the cliffs at Battle Creek Regional Park in St. Paul or bowling at Park Grove Bowl in St. Paul Park. Only students who have completed their work for the week are allowed to participate in special Friday events. Advice from the graduates was "work hard early and keep to the schedule" if you want to have fun on Fridays.

Julia, who will attend Normandale Community College in the fall, hasn't decided what her major will be.

Dawn Burtman, a Cottage Grove resident, will attend Dakota County Technical College. She wants to be a preschool or kindergarten teacher.

Simon Hoekstra has been commuting to HCA from Wilson, Wis., for seven years. He will study IT and music.