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Celebrating the SVS Class of 2024

(Birmingham, Alabama) Spring Valley School is a small independent school for students with learning differences. Our students thrive when taught explicitly with a multisensory approach in small classroom settings. Many are diagnosed with a learning disAbility - yet none are truly disabled. They are exceedingly bright, creative, hard-working students. 

"Due to the small environment at Spring Valley, our faculty and staff and I have the unique and humbling experience of knowing each student and their families quite well. We have had the privilege of walking with our students through some of life’s triumphs and tragedies alike. We are thankful for the opportunity to not only academically educate our students but to help shape them into responsible, caring adults who respect themselves and ultimately impact our world in a positive, meaningful way." - Dr.Laura Fiveash, Head of School 

Spring Valley’s Graduation ceremony on May 18, 2024 recognized this year's incredible graduates as they successfully graduated from high school. They were accepted to several colleges and universities, and many received scholarships. At Spring Valley, each graduate has the opportunity to take center stage and share about their the most meaningful influencers during their time as a Spring Valley student.

Introducing and celebrating the SVS Class of 2024: 

Andrew Davis

  • is attending Sewanee: The University Of The South 

  • served as President for the Isbinidi House

  • participated in Youth Leadership Birmingham during his sophomore year 

  • was awarded with Environmental Philosophy and Outstanding Achievement in Dual Enrollment awards this spring

  • is graduating with high honors and 12 college credits 

  • was selected for Alabama Governor's School 

  • is “a philosopher at heart. He values evidence and logic over his own feelings and bias. Andrew will dig endlessly until he is satisfied that he truly understands a subject. His fascination with the natural world and belief in individual human worth are his moral compass. When a student like Andrew steps out into the world we gain hope for the future” - Gabe Evans, SVS Faculty Member 

Excerpt from Andrew’s graduation speech: 

“A limitation is final. It is static. Let’s say in an alternate reality Andrew goes to a static school. He was taught the basics of math and they found out he struggled with basic functions and they decided maybe this whole math business isn’t for him, and didn’t try, and they told him that and he believed it. I say nay to that; no growth, no passion, and no joy comes from that view. And he may have never discovered concepts that peak his interest, like string and chaos theory that bring him endless learning.

Now let’s think about going to a dynamic school, like SVS. They saw this whole math business was hard - but they said 'let’s keep going', determined to find joy in the things that are difficult; and they were determined that I would define my own abilities, despite what the universe has set against me, that’s what this place does, and it is a wonderful gift. 

The truth that this place has taught me is that disabilities are merely descriptive, they aren’t static, they aren’t our limits, our only limitations are ourselves, and we must always remember that.”

Ellisandra Graf 

  • is attending the University of Montevallo

  • participated in the SVS theatre department since its inception nine years ago. This commitment required them to attend play practices twice a week for the entire school year. Earlier this month, Elli did an outstanding job portraying Peter in Peter Pan, Jr. 

  • is the official SVS greeter

  • received the Solar Flare in Science Award, Outstanding Achievement in Dual Enrollment, and The Adam Jones Performing Arts Award

  • is graduating with highest honors and 12 college credits

  • is one of the most enthusiastic and hardworking science students. Her curiosity and excitement about learning new things will carry her far as she moves forward in her education and life.” - James Cormier, SVS Faculty Member

Excerpt from Elli’s graduation speech:

“Before my time at SVS, I had many struggles. Some were learning math, knowing how to read, and spell words, stay focused in class, and sit still during class. When I came to Spring Valley for the first time the teachers and students were very friendly. I felt like I belonged at SVS because I was around people who had some of the same struggles that I had. Time at Spring Valley changed my life and I couldn’t be more thankful for my friends, family, and teachers.

Some of my favorite moments at SVS were acting and being part of the SVS theatre department, going on different field trips, and being able to find new friends every year to welcome to the school. These are just some of the reasons why SVS changed my life.”  

Lu Logilisci 

  • Is attending the University of North Alabama to major in Digital Media

  • participated in the SVS theatre department for over six years and attended play practices twice a week for the entire school year. Lu did an amazing job portraying Smee in Peter Pan, Jr. 

  • received awards for outstanding artistic abilities as well as achievements in Dual Enrollment

  • attended Anytown Alabama - a week-long residential social justice and leadership summit designed to give students in grades 9 through 12 an intensive and interactive learning experience, discussing social justice issues and learning leadership skills.

  • is graduating with highest honors and 12 college credits   

  • “is also a gifted artist and writer. Lu has gone above and beyond by entering multiple competitions in these areas.” - James Cormier, SVS Faculty Member

Excerpt from Lu’s graduation speech:

“I have been at Spring Valley for six years, and I am now going to be pursuing art school. Thank you to the following teachers: Mr.C, for giving me the opportunity to explore methods in ceramics and printmaking. Ms. Burrill, for giving me the opportunity to attend online classes at Landmark College; I never thought I’d get to immerse myself in learning about screenplays, ancient and medieval artwork, finances, and web design all at this stage of my life. Mr. George Evans, for your efforts in expanding my skills in writing and my knowledge of literature. Ms. Smith and Mr. Looney, for having me in your theatre program; it has been an honor spending time with you over the years. And Dr. Fiveash, for having me here. It has been incredible to be at a place where my contributions feel valued.

Earnest Norman

  • is attending to Jackson State University majoring in kinesiology 

  • served as President for my  House - Sollevare 

  • starred in Peter Pan, Jr at Starky

  • served as a Teacher’s Assistant for Coach Green

  • received an award for Growth and Perseverance in Dual Enrollment and the Spirit of SVS Award (for which he was nominated by peer Upper School Students)

  • is graduating with honors and 6 college credits

  • “demonstrated great determination and commitment to personal growth in his DE coursework: he diligently worked to apply the feedback he received to future assignments, he learned to plan ahead, often completing his assignments ahead of schedule, and he solicited teacher feedback about how he could improve the quality of his assignments, even if it meant revising an assignment he had already completed." - Jocelyn Burrill, SVS Faculty Member

Excerpt from Earnest’s graduation speech:

“I have been at Spring Valley for 7 years. Thank you to Mr. George Evans. You have helped my writing improve and help me write better essays over these 3 years. To Mrs. Smith, when I first came here, you helped me fit in at Spring Valley. When I first got into your class, I felt like I was already part of it before I arrived. To Mrs. Maggie, for making learning fun. To Mrs. Hancock: you taught me Spanish for one year. It was possibly the most fun I’ve ever had in a class. We laughed so much. To Ms. Smith and Mr. Looney, for dedicating many hours to put on a great show every year. To Coach Green: You have been like a big brother to me. I am so ready to see what the next chapter of my life holds.” 

Charlie Spine

  • is attending Roanoke College

  • served as House President for Reveur

  • transferred to SVS last school year and immediately joined the SVS theatre department. Charlie did an incredible job portraying the evil Captain Hook in Peter Pan, Jr. 

  • was selected for Alabama’s Governor School 

  • recevied the Angela Duckworth Award for Grit, the Judy Davidson Excellence in Math Award, and the Adam Jones Performing Arts Award

  • is graduating with high honors and completed three hours of college credit

  • is ambitious with the tenacity and devotion to help those ambitions to be realized. He leans into difficult subjects with curiosity, looking to find similarities and extensions to other topics, connecting real world examples to theory, and looking to apply theory to the phenomena around him. After learning a topic he is also very aware of those struggling around him, viewing learning as a cooperative venture and sharing what he knows, rather than a competition to be best, alone. He has been an exemplary addition to classes over the past two years.” - Dr.Kevin Campbell, SVS Faculty Member 

Excerpt from Charlie’s graduation speech: 

“Love is a noun and a verb. The definition of it in the American Dictionary is “an intense feeling of deep affection.” Spring Valley has shown me nothing but love. It has changed my life. I came to Spring Valley in 2022 and, on my first day, I was extremely skeptical of everything, from the campus, the students, and the faculty. The same students and faculty I was skeptical of, changed me and helped me become a better person. George Evans, my English teacher, helped me become more empathetic and understanding of people. He never made me feel stupid when redirecting me, and his kindness was unrelenting. Gabe Evans helped me by his humor and honesty. My science teacher, Jordan Cockrell was a reason I looked forward to class. I was never good with any language classes, and I was worried about having to finish my language credits, but Ms. Hancock's class structure helped me flourish and gain confidence in my signing ability. Ms. Smith and Mr. Looney reignited my passion for the performing arts. The patience displayed by Ms. Carroll and Dr.Campbell was unbreakable as they continued to give me chances to be who they knew I was.

Love isn’t saying “I love you,”. It is the actions that follow. Every single teacher I listed cares and loves their students. Every teacher I didn’t list that works here loves and cares about their students. They constantly work to understand every single student’s situation. In a world where our empathy is spread so thinly, they go out of their way to form meaningful relationships with all of us. All of the faculty are incredible people, and Dr. Fiveash has done wonderful work in finding the right people to assist students and their families. Words alone cannot express how grateful I am for my time here. The best I can say is ‘I love you Spring Valley.’”

Aubrie Strain

  • is attending Jefferson State Community College

  • served as House President for Altruismo

  • joined the theatre department where she starred as the lead Brave Girl in Peter Pan, Jr. 

  • received the Rodin Award in Art, Outstanding Achievement Award in Dual Enrollment, and the Barbara Bush Award in Leadership

  • is graduating with high honors and completed three hours of college credit

  • is a contemplative artist with a mind for aesthetic details. She has grown as a writer and a thinker, and an artist. Her sculptures will forever serve as ‘exemplaries’ for extra credit art assignments.” - George Evans, SVS Faculty Member 

Excerpt from Aubrie’s graduation speech:

“I have Dyslexia and ADHD and, up until my 8th grade year when I switched schools, I have found that for me in most heavily cognitively involved settings I would find myself set apart from others - oftentimes being defined by my diagnoses. 

When I found Spring Valley, I was ready for some sort of change. You may have noticed Spring Valley’s slogan ‘Where your strengths count.’ In my experience, SVS is leveling out the playing field by showing me how to work with my learning differences and not against them. This school has shown me that I don't have to be defined by my differences because my strengths count.

Keira Meikus

  • is pursuing employment opportunities upon graduation

  • received the Brene Brown Award for Courage and the PEERS Graduation Award

  • "is an avid reader, always with a book in hand" - Sandra Foster, SVS Faculty Member

Congratulations, Spring Valley School graduates!


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