Amelia Academy Senior Sarah Pomfrey Delivers Chapel Talk
We all have a story to tell, said Sarah Pomfrey in the opening of her Chapel Talk, delivered on February 6 before her fellow students, faculty, family, and friends. “Today, I will be telling you my story . . . about a tragedy that changed my life forever and made me who I am today,” she said. Sarah chose the Chapel Talk to talk publicly about the event, something she has not done since December 15, 2012.
On that day, her family attended a Christmas party in Montpelier. Sarah said that she remembers having fun with her extended family members. “We were on the way back home, on a dark, country road, when suddenly our vehicle hit a tractor trailer that was parked horizontally in the road,” she remembered. The next hours went by in a blur as she and her family were transported to VCU Medical Center.
Sarah, her younger brother, and her father were not seriously hurt in the accident. However, Her mother and older brother, Andrew, had sustained injuries. Despite this, Sarah said she remembers thinking that “everyone would be fine.” Later, she was told her mother had suffered a broken ankle and other injuries, and Andrew was severely injured. Then, she said, “the unthinkable happened. My dad told me that Andrew was not going to make it.”
After Andrew died, Sarah said that she and her family were grateful for the support of their Amelia Academy family. “They held a prayer vigil, visited my family, prepared meals, and performed many other extraordinary acts of kindness,” she said. A tree was planted on the school grounds in Andrew’s memory along with a sign near the baseball field. In addition, the Andrew Pomfrey award was created for the baseball player who “demonstrates hard work and dedication for the game.”
Sarah said that she will never forget the Academy’s love for Andrew, and she expressed her gratitude on behalf of her family.
As a fifth-grader, Sarah wondered if her life would ever be the same. “Before the accident, I was a hyper ten-year-old who got in trouble for laughing and talking [in class],” she said. Sarah spent time with friends, including her best friend Madison Barnard, and “was satisfied with making average grades.” She and her family spent many weekends traveling to Andrew’s baseball games. Even though her faith in God was part of her life, she did not know “God’s unconditional love for me.”
Her life today represents the changes that have occurred in her life, Sarah said. Over the years, she has worked hard to earn good grades and plans to attend nursing school next fall. Admitting that she is sometimes considered a pessimist by other people, Sarah said she is working hard to become more positive.
Her close-knit family remains a source of support and love. Her younger brother, Aaron, who just turned five, “has brought so much joy to us and is a true blessing,” she said.
Sarah shares a common bond with several classmates, Madison, Brent Carwile, and Ryan Anderson, all of whom have attended the Academy since kindergarten. “They are a very important part of my story,” she said. They have been good friends, showing kindness and making her laugh. Sarah credited another friend and fellow classmate, Lexi Easter, with teaching her “to have fun and not take things so seriously.”
Throughout her story, Sarah said that one thing has not changed. “God has been with me the whole time.” Quoting Romans 8:28, she said, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Knowing God’s love for her, Sarah said that He has a plan for her life. This certainty helps her deal with stressful moments when she reads the Bible verse.
Sarah concluded her story with the hope that her audience will feel encouraged by her story and know that God has a plan for their lives as well.
As a student at Amelia Academy, Sarah has maintained the highest academic standard, earning an A in every class since ninth grade. She is a member of the National Honor Society and Beta Club. Sarah has served as a class officer each year as well. She has been a member of the Science and Bible clubs and the Yearbook staff. As a student-athlete, she played volleyball and ran cross country.
Attending her Chapel Talk were her parents, Lynn and Chris Pomfrey, and her brothers Hunter and Aaron. Also in attendance were her grandparents, Carol and Ray Webb, and her grandmother, Betty Pomfrey. Other family members present were her aunts, Kandi Pomfrey and Jenny Ruppert, along with her cousin, Ben Ruppert. Also among the guests was family friend, Pam Pollock.
Amelia Academy Alumni Night was held on Friday, February 7. Nearly 40 alumni were in attendance. They enjoyed refreshments in the alumni lounge, hosted by Debra Adams with Commonwealth Realty, a member of the Academy’s class of 1983.
The Amelia Academy Patriots hosted Brunswick Academy on Tuesday, January 28th. The Patriots are 10-0 in the Virginia Commonwealth Conference and 12 – 4 overall. Pictured is senior Ryan Anderson taking a three point shot during Tuesday’s conference win.
The Amelia Academy junior varsity team hosted Brunswick Academy on Tuesday night. Pictured is Cameron Morris looking to find the open man. The Patriots lost this contest 63-64.
Freshman Jon-Colin Palmer brings the ball down the court during the JV Patriots 63 – 64 loss to Brunswick Academy.
Junior Jalen Booker scores two more points against Brunswick Academy on Tuesday night. The Patriots defeated their VCC opponent.
Senior Kevin Hodonou passes the ball during the Amelia Academy Patriots win against Brunswick Academy on Tuesday.
“I’m here to share my story and tell you how I became the person you all see here today,” said Elise Jones at the beginning of her Chapel Talk, delivered on Jan. 29. What followed was a profile of strength and courage in the face of a daily struggle. Elise said that some people would be surprised to learn that she has anxiety and depression. “I seem like a happy girl to you,” she said. Internally, Elise has coped with the mental illness that almost took her life.
“It all started in ninth grade,” she said. Her friends pulled away from her, and Elise was left devastated by the abandonment. Transferring to Amelia Academy provided a respite and a fresh start. However, over the summer, she said that her depression grew worse, and she began to self-harm. “My mom found out, and I was admitted to the hospital,” she said. “Luckily, I got some medication, and they set me up with a therapist.”
This experience was the beginning of many more therapy sessions and medications to combat her severe depression. After homeschool for the first semester, Elise returned to Amelia Academy for the second semester of her sophomore year. Near the end of that year, on May 5, 2018, she said, “the unthinkable happened” when he attempted to commit suicide. Her parents found Elise, and she was med-flighted to VCU Health Center, where she remained for nearly two weeks.
She described waking up to the sound of a heart monitor with IV needles and a tube in her throat. Later, her parents filled in the details because she had no memory of that day. After she went home, Elise said her life returned to a normal routine. However, her depression remained, and she chose homeschool for her junior year. That Christmas, Elise was hospitalized again and continued to struggle with anxiety and depression.
With her senior year approaching, Elise decided to return to the Academy. “So, here I am now,” she said, “giving this speech that I’ve always wanted to give since I knew it was required.” Admitting to the difficulty of her condition, she said that, each time she succumbs to her depression, “God pulls me through.” She also expressed gratitude for the support from her family and friends.
Reaching out to another person represents the first step to overcoming mental illness, Elise said. “Also, know you are not alone,” she added. “Things get better . . . if you seek help.”
With a goal of becoming a counselor or therapist, Elise wants to help people like her who suffer from mental illness. In the meantime, she said, “I hope to make a difference in this world by sharing my story.”
Rodney L. Taylor, Head of School, echoed this sentiment in his remarks. “The strength and resiliency shown by Elise is incredible. We hope and pray that her message and eventual career will be helpful to others.”
As a student at Amelia Academy, Elise has achieved an excellent academic record, earning high grades in spite of difficult times through the years. Representing the Academy, she has competed and placed in the Association of Virginia Academies Forensics event.
Attending her Chapel Talk were her parents, Tamara and Frank Jones, along with her half-brother, Christopher Jones.
Amelia Academy students in kindergarten through the fourth grade celebrated their “100th”day of school on Wednesday, January 22nd. Fourth graders Jeremiah Bollinger, Jacob Ratliff, Levi Borum, Carson Roberts complete the station where 100 cups were stacked.
Grace Mimms transformed herself into a 100 year old woman.
Amelia Academy students in Mrs. Charlotte Cervarich’s second grade class recently completed a lesson on Native American shelters. Students, with help from their parents, could construct a tepee, longhouse or an adobe structure. Left to right- Connor Lane, Harper Garza, Markus Parks and Aiden Flippin proudly exhibit their projects.
The Amelia Academy JV girls basketball team hosted Southampton Academy on Friday, January 17th. The team played hard but lost 42 – 33. Pictured is sophomore Sarah Reynolds grabbing a jump ball.
Sophomore Madison Borum brings the ball down the court while seventh grader Macy Barnard waits to assist in the JV game with Southampton. The girls lost 33 – 42.
Eighth grader Kyle Anderson drives to the basket during Thursday’s game with Blessed Sacrament Huguenot. The junior varsity lost 61 – 49.
Quinton Dagner scores another two points for the Amelia Academy Patriots during their 61 – 49 loss.
Amelia Academy junior Greg Harris goes in for two more points when the Amelia Academy Patriots defeated Blessed Sacrament Huguenot on Thursday night.
Amelia Academy patriots Brogan Foy and Jolin Fox get back on defense when the Patriots defeated Blessed Sacrament Huguenot 61 – 49.
Amelia Academy basketball pictures by Haylee Huddleston.
Lower school pictures by Sarah Pomfrey, Madison Barnard, Lexi Easter, Kellie Banks and Ryan Anderson.