J. Travis Lee, valedictorian for the Chamberlain High School Class of 1991, has 5.64 grade-point average. Straight A's yield 4.0 GPA; Lee's average was inflated because of honors courses. But good grades were not enough, Lee told the crowd of about 5,000 parents, friends, teachers and graduates Tuesday at the University of South Florida Sun Dome.
"I tried to find fulfillment in academic excellence instead of relationships," Lee said. "I was forced to face a relationship with Christ."
Lee challenged the entire graduating class to "find a relationship with God" or risk never finding true happiness. The class of 1991, nearly 650 strong, applauded heartily.
Lee's sermon was balanced by a semiserious invocation given by Kerry Van Voorhis, who graduated with the third-best grades.
Van Voorhis urged the class to imagine graduating in China, the Soviet Union and Ethiopia (where the "graduating class is a little thin" and the life expectancy is only 30 years, he said).
The most significant moment for Evelyn Ashwood, 40, came when she heard the words "Richard I. Ashwood" echo through the stadium.
"That's mine! That's my son!" she said, jumping up.
_ BILL DURYEA