By MIKE CHAIKEN
For the graduates of St. Paul Catholic High School, it was a night filled with hope for the future but also a sense of nostalgia for what they will be leaving behind.
Over 100 seniors became graduates as the local parochial school held its commencement exercises at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford last Tuesday.
Prior to the receipt of diplomas, the soon-to-be graduates milled about in the lower part of the cathedral, donning their caps, slipping on their gowns, and getting pinned with corsages by members of the faculty.
Southington’s Jose Silva, the senior class president, was among the St. Paul students waiting for the moment to parade in front of family and friends, and finally receive the diploma he had earned after four years at the Bristol private school.
“I’m looking forward to starting my new journey at the United States Air Force Academy and starting my career as an officer in the Air Force,” said Silva when he was asked about his feelings for the future.
Jillian McNamara, another senior, said, “(Beyond St. Paul) I’m just looking for new experiences. More education. Internships, definitely.”
“I’m looking forward to starting fresh in college, meeting new people, and just getting more experience for a career path,” Emilie Nowakowski, another graduate, said.
The senior class, with just 100-plus students, is small by the standards of most public schools.
“Nothing’s like St. Paul,” said McNamara. “Everybody knows each other. We’re all family. It’s really my second home.”
“I’m definitely going to miss how everybody is supportive of each other,” said Silva. “We all come out to each other’s athletic events or drama club. It’s like a family. We’ve been with each other all four years and we’ve formed a tight knit bond.”
“I’m going to miss being a family with everyone and knowing everyone, and saying goodbye to all of the faces I’ve known for the past four years,” said Emilie.
In her salutatorian speech, Sydney Riddick commented on the sense of community within St. Paul. Riddick said, “By definition, a community is ‘a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.’ But here at St. Paul Catholic High School, it goes beyond that. Community means flocking to the nest on game nights to cheer on our fellow Falcons. Community means working together to gather canned goods or toys for the less fortunate. Community means coming together to mourn the loss of loved ones….”
In his valedictory speech, Southington’s Brendan Carroll spoke about the concept of “trust.”
“Our generation is one that is constantly searching… (S)earch engines are frequently being used to find random pieces of information or answer all types of crazy questions. Tonight I am here to tell you to stop searching. Instead, trust.”
“First, trust in the Lord… Next, trust in what you have learned at Saint Paul Catholic… Lastly, trust in yourself…. Every single one of you holds the power to make your dreams come true… Stop searching. Listen to your heart and discover the things that you’re passionate about. Then, trust that these passions will lead you to your calling in God’s plan.”
Ruminahui Carlos Aldave, Mitchell A. Houle, Jariet Arellano, , Jonathan Hylan +, Sophia Barlotta *, Michaela Anne Javier *, Emma Elizabeth Bartley, Yuan Ji, Kyle Joseph Bates, Oshakwé Leona Johnson, Lauren Marie Benoit *, Alaina Louise Kendrick *, Robert Kenneth Brown, Brittany Lynne Kennedy, Laura Sofia Cadavid *, Kunho Kim, Brendan Thomas Carroll *, Joseph Benjamin Klimczak, Xinnan Frank Cheng, , Timothy Joseph Kodz *, Heeji Choi, , Aaron Scott Kowalski , Caroline Rose Cianci *, Austin Thomas Kulig * +, Daniel Cinnante, , Olivia Lagace * +, Brendan Michael Critchley, Nadia Jean Langer-Marshall, Sarah Elizabeth Crowley, Zhubin Li, Morgan Adriana Deschenes, William Kenneth Lindquist, Matthew Christopher Dieckhaus +, Kyle John Lipka +, Christopher Michael Doherty, Peizhang Liu,
Rebecca Lu Eaton, Anthony J. Lorenzetti * +, Patrick John Etter *, Mark D. Lozinski +, Mekaela Arianna Fithian-Giantonio *, Caleigh Rose Lozito, Daija Scott Fitzpatrick, Kyle W. MacLean, Sara Kathleen Fracasso, Jarrod M. Marotto, Rachel Anna Frank, Carolay Briggit Marquez, Nikos Dante Fuentes, Malia McCool, Krystina Michelle Galluzzo *, Kelly Rose McMahon * +, Rachel R. Gionfriddo, Jillian Marie McNamara *, Laura Giuffrida, , Christopher Melnyk +, Anna Magdalena Golda, Troy Dalton Micale *, Nadia Marie Golino, Ryan Alexander Mills *, Cameron Buckley Grant, Kaitlin Ann Moriarty * , Matthew Gwozdecke *, Theodore Mourges, Victoria Hatzisavvas, Jared Robert Murano, Abigail Hobson + , Danielle Murdock *, Jillian L. Murray +, Joseph M. Strid +, Douglas James Nessing, Madeline Teresa Sturm *, Emilie M. Nowakowski, , John Leo Sullivan, Elijah R. Parks, Helena Lucia Swanson, Gabriel Peter Pelletier, Erica L. Swicklas, Lyna Rose Pelletier, , Tian Tang *, Kodylynn Perkins +, Tatum Elisabeth Trowbridge * +, Gabriella Marie Pernal, Brandon Thomas Trudel, Carter T. Polverari, Jared Valois, Lauren Jean Popillo, Mark Alberto Vazquez, Arianna Secilia Marie Porrini, Emily Anne Vilhotti, Brendan Hunter Pronovost * +, Jiaan Wan *, Elizabeth A. Ramsey, Mitchell P. Wieloch, Sydney Amber Riddick *, Emily Rose Wilcox * +, DeJuan Francisco Rodriguez, Joseph James Wilkinson +, Isabella Antonia Sabino, Zijun Yang, Emilio Gil Santiago, Yongqi Ye *, Lorraine Santiago Morales, Alyssa Yum *, José Ramon Silva, Jr. * , Emily Jeannie Zukauskas,
*National Honor Society
+ Legacy Student