Coed, independent, PK3-12th grade school in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Meet Christopher Canizares - Valedictorian

The Valedictorian of the ultra-competitive Class of 2019, with a GPA over 4.7, is Christopher Canizares, a "Lifer" who started Shorecrest at age three and is heading to the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, in the fall.

With two doctors as parents, it’s no wonder Chris is intelligent and studious. He maxed out the Upper School life science curriculum, doubling up on courses both junior and senior year. And while it isn’t a life science, he took an Astrophysics and Relativity honors course as an independent study during senior year simply to explore a new subject. He is very interested in medical sciences as well. He thinks. Maybe…

Chris will be the first to tell you that he is not quite sure what is coming next, because he has been safe and secure in one place his whole life - Shorecrest. But he feels confident that he is prepared.

“Having spent my entire life in one place, it’s a little scary leaving everything I know behind to start the next stage of my life, especially since the environment I’ve grown up in has been so incredibly wonderful. I will miss all of it. Most of me is excited to continue on the rest of my journey and strive to better myself; however, I can’t help but look back on my foundation to which I should attribute my success.”
Chris’ Valedictory address given at Commencement for the Class of 2019 compared navigating Upper School to learning to play a new instrument.

“With the start of Freshmen year, you have no idea what it's going to be like, you’ve just heard things and you kind of like the sound of it. At first, you are not incredibly good at any of the skills necessary and you are super self-conscious of everything you do. On the first day of high school I was a nervous wreck. I walked through the side door [of Landy Hall] because I was too scared to walk through the front doors where all the seniors hung out.

“… Sophomore year eventually comes along. At this point, you’ve learned how to navigate around your musical repertoire, and the skills needed seem a little easier. But most importantly, you’re not a newbie any more, and you make this very clear by with every opportunity you get.

“... Junior year it’s time to really buckle down and get to work. People actually expect you to be fairly decent at what you do, regardless of whether you are or not. And a whole bunch of ‘sheet music’ or ‘responsibility’ comes out of nowhere and hits you like a pile of bricks. The stuff you are learning to play is really hard and frustrating to learn. If there is any point in which you break down and consider quitting, its now; but you’ve come so far, there’s no way you can give it all up. So you just keep playing your music.

“... Second semester senior year comes like the perfect authentic cadence at the end of a song... In truth, life is just like playing an instrument. You cannot pick up the instrument and immediately play well. It takes time and practice. There are going to be missed concerts and mistakes are going to be made. There may even be times when you feel like quitting because with all the practice and effort in the world, things won’t necessarily go perfectly.”
“Those who truly and fully succeed in life have indeed failed along the way, but they have had the strength and courage to get back up and keep going. They capitalize on the mistakes that they have made in order to improve for the next time. They don’t forget to look back and just be glad to have had the opportunity. Whatever happens, you must have the determination to continue striving to be the best you can be. Success is not about the mistakes that you make, but your ability to make up for it afterwards. That’s what determines your character.”

Also in his address, Chris thanked his friends from Shorecrest, Boy Scouts and soccer - in addition to the adults who “guided me and pushed me to be my best self.”

What does it take to build a Valedictorian at a challenging Prep school? Chris says he has a fairly consistent diet with an average of 2 cups of coffee per week, goes to bed around 11pm - until senior year when he pushed that closer to midnight to allow for time spent on college applications, he took notes digitally on an iPad which he felt increased his efficiency and ability to stay engaged in class, and does not listen to music or watch TV while studying - although is occasionally distracted by his younger brothers.

Beyond academics Chris spent time as part of the Boy Scouts of America since the age of 5 and earned his Eagle Scout rank halfway through his sophomore year. He has also been a drummer for about 10 years and played club and Chargers varsity soccer most of his high school career. And on October 14, 2018
, he joined friends on an historic kayaking trip from the 1923 location of Shorecrest Outdoor School to the current Shorecrest Preparatory School campus.

Upper School Science Teacher Erich Schneider adds to Chris’ resume with, “It is clear that he models our school’s core values well, particularly when it comes to respect and integrity. His classmates confirmed that years ago, when they elected him to our school’s Honors Council.”

Do you think you have him figured out? Shorecrest’s Associate Director of College Counseling, Bonni Klement, thought so at first glance. “When I first met Chris Canizares as a freshman I thought I had him pegged… shy, straight laced, maybe even a little boring. However, as I’ve gotten to know him better over the last four years, I now see he isn’t shy, he’s just observant. He isn’t straight laced, he’s just respectful. He definitely isn’t boring, and actually has been one of my most surprising students in the Class of 2019.”

One such surprise came when all of the Shorecrest Chargers saw Chris do a backflip (or standing back tuck) during Homecoming powder puff cheerleading. Until Commencement many didn’t know how Chris could have possibly picked up such a skill.

“During Junior year I learned how to backflip. With my low level of flexibility and limited experience in gymnastics, what could possibly go wrong? I set out to achieve this goal by first getting over the fear of throwing my body backwards in the air. I did so on a trampoline, and eventually I was able to transition this to solid ground; however, not without breaking my toe upon impact with the pool floaty that my friend and I had made into a sketchy tumbling track. Is my right toe to this day still bigger than my left toe? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely!”

Once you get to know Chris, you’ll flip over him too. He’s an outstanding young man, and is bound for great accomplishments in his future.
    • Excerpts from Chris Canizares' Valedictory Address

Shorecrest Preparatory School

5101 First Street Northeast
St Petersburg, FL 33703
Phone: (727) 522-2111  |  Fax: (727) 527-4191
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Shorecrest Preparatory School is a private, non-sectarian, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students preschool through high school, located in St. Petersburg, Florida.