Mount St. Joseph Academy said farewell to its senior class with an in-person graduation ceremony Friday evening.
Family and friends of the 23 graduates sat in physically distanced groups during a ceremony held at St. Peter Church.
Senior Pearl Bellomo sang “The Star Spangled Banner” a cappella after an invocation by the Rev. Steven Marchand.
Principal Michael Alexander then welcomed graduates and their guests, telling them that living under the coronavirus pandemic for the last 15 months has taught everyone a number important lessons.
“I think we learned we are stronger than we once thought. I think we learned that we are more resilient than we once thought. And finally, I think we’re more flexible and adaptable than we once thought,” he said.
He then asked graduates to reflect on those attributes, telling them, “You spent the last school year honing these skills and you are shining examples for everyone around you to emulate.”
“I’m so proud of how you took this adversity in stride,” he said.
Bellomo and Makayla Williams, the co-recipients of the 2021 Veritas et Puritas Award, addressed their fellow graduates in a pair of speeches.
The award recognizes students who demonstrate faith, respect, appreciation for the MSJ community and a commitment to serving others.
Bellomo spoke about the need to address life’s challenges with grace.
“The fullness of life reveals itself when we find contentment in each situation, when we make peace with the present moment,” she said. “When we surrender to the present moment, whatever that may be, it opens the door for new opportunities and places the incomparable peace of God into our hearts.”
In her speech, Williams offered her gratitude to administrators and teachers who worked to provide in-person learning during such a difficult school year.
“Your selflessness and passion for teaching have helped to make it possible for all of us to sit here today with the tools that we will need to succeed when we are no longer your students.”
Salutatorian Ella Paquin compared her time at MSJ to being part of a family, and shared a number of memories she has made with classmates and teachers over the past four years.
“The (memories) that we will take with us as we leave MSJ are the ones that we have all bonded over and it helped create a family that I will forever be a part of,” she said.
Valedictorian Rachel Gregory reflected on how the friendships she made at MSJ gave her the love and support she needed to both succeed academically and have fun along the way.
She then encouraged her fellow graduates to embrace the transition to the next phase of their lives without fear.
“As we all split up and take different directions for our lives, we will always have MSJ to remember as the place where we started out. This is not the end, but merely the beginning of the rest of our lives.”