By KAITLYN NAPLES
Another school year has come to an end at St. Paul Catholic High School, and the seniors will be graduating on June 7 and preparing for their future. The top two students were announced last week, with Hailey Morneault earning the right to be called valedictorian, and Matt Santovasi salutatorian.
Both are leaving the school with a word of advice to their fellow classmates: work hard and dreams will come true.
Santovasi, a Southing-ton resident, is headed to Villanova University to study electrical engineering. Ever since his middle school math and science classes, Santovasi said he has been interested in engineering. His father is also an engineer, so he has always been familiar with that occupation.
He has been attending private, Catholic schools for his entire educational life, and moving to a much larger school is a little overwhelming for Santovasi, but he said he is excited about the journey.
“It’s just going to be so different,” he said.
When he found out he was second in his class rank, he said he was surprised.
“I knew I always did well (academically) but I never thought I was number 2,” he said, adding that he wouldn’t be where he is if he didn’t have the support and encouragement from his father.
“My dad has been a really big help with my homework, and has always guided me in the right direction,” Santovasi said. “I really look up to him.”
Throughout high school he has been captain of the track team, where he said he has many memories and enjoyed his time spent with a team that felt like family.
“They are my best friends, and I know I will have them forever even though we are going our separate ways,” Santovasi said.
He is also the vice president of the senior class, and has been president of the National Honor Society and a member of the Blue Key Club.
In addition to his family, Santovasi also attributes the St. Paul teachers to his success.
“They were always a big help and truly cared about what we did and our futures,” he said.
Going forward, Santovasi said he would encourage his fellow graduates to continue to work hard in the future.
“Keep at it, and good things will come. Never give up,” he said, adding that he would say the same to the underclassmen and incoming freshman at St. Paul.
Hailey Morneault, this year’s valedictorian, is headed to the University of Connecticut to study biology and enter into a pre-medicine degree as well.
Morneault said biology is a subject that never really felt like work because she enjoyed learning about it so much.
She said when she found out she was at the top of her class, she was shocked.
“I never really thought about it,” she said, adding that she focused on doing well and going to a good college, but never thought she’d be valedictorian.
Some of her favorite times in high school were spent in science teacher Susan Vassiliou’s class because she didn’t just teach out of a book, but incorporated real life experiences and scenarios to help the students understand a topic better.
“She really helped me pick what I wanted to do, and always reassured me that I can reach that goal,” Morneault said, adding that she wants to pursue a career as an orthopedic surgeon. Last summer, she participated in a medical leadership where she was able to watch a surgery, and also perform a surgery on a corpse as a learning method.
She also attributes her success to her parents who, she said, “have always pushed me my entire life to always do what I wanted to do.”
Morneault has been active in extracurricular activities in high school and has spent the last four years on the basketball team, and played volleyball for two years. She is also a member of the Blue Key Club, the Do Something Club, the French Club, and has been part of the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame.
Her advice to underclassmen and incoming freshman at St. Paul is to get involved in activities as soon as possible. She also encouraged her fellow graduates to always “work as hard as possible, and you can achieve whatever you want.”
St. Paul’s graduation is Friday, June 7 at 7:30 p.m., at St. Joseph Cathedral in Hartford.
By KAITLYN NAPLES