By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER
One hundred and four young men and women walked across the stage of the Cathedral of Saint Joseph’s on Tuesday, June 5, during St. Paul Catholic High School’s class of 2018 graduation.
Diplomas were presented by the Most Reverend Leonard P. Blair, S.T.D, the Archbishop of Hartford.
James Cooper, dean of academic life, described the class of 2018 as very diverse, “in terms of their interests and their talents.”
“I would say it’s our core values [that make St. Paul a great school] of faith, character, excellence, community, and service,” said Cooper. “We try to instill that in the kids for all four years, and our goal, always, is to say that by the time we reach this kind of a pinnacle event, that they’ve realized that and made that part of their own life, those five core values, so that as they go forward in this commencement ceremony they’re living those five core values going forth in their life in whatever they do.”
Norma Kendrick, a teacher and senior advisor at St. Paul, gathered with students before the ceremony, aiding them into cap and gown.
“These are my babies, I have them all year, I watch them grow, and I have so much fun with them,” said Kendrick. “To me, it’s like a right of passage. We’ve watched them grow; they came in as freshmen, and we do a convocation with them and they sign their names into the community, and then over the next four years we watch these guys achieve unbelievable potential. I’m just so proud of them.”
Many of the students echoed Kendrick’s sentiments, saying that they would miss the feeling of being part of a close-knit community the most.
During his speech, valedictorian, Fulvio Aliberti, said “Tonight, as a class, we celebrate and remember the joys and laughter we have shared, the hard work and the obstacles we have overcome, and all of the moments that we will forever cherish.”
Brian Collins, who plans to attend the University of Connecticut and pursue a career as a respiratory therapist and paramedic, said he would miss the “high school experience” and the “friendship, bonding and the family” he gained during his four years.
Kayleigh Grustas said she was excited to move onto college and that she felt really prepared to do so. She plans on attending Belmont University in Tennessee to study commercial music, with a concentration in voice.
“I think I’ll miss the atmosphere – it’s very family-like – the catchphrase of St. Paul was “Welcome Home”,” said Grustas. “I really think that over four years it has been my home. I’ll miss the different families that I’ve made within St. Paul, as far as sports and drama and all that goes, yeah, I’ll really miss that atmosphere.”
Military hopeful, Christian Sturm, who will be headed to Ohio to study cyber security at Tiffin University also said he would miss the “good sense of community here” at St. Paul.
Dawn Zillich, St. Paul librarian, offered a bit of advice to the graduates – “Work hard, and have fun.”
“[It’s] kind of bittersweet because my group of sewing club girls here are graduating. I’ve had them for four years and they’re the ones that made the senior quilt, that’s going to be hanging up later,” said Zillich. “There’s four of them that were like the founding members of the club, so, we make the senior quilt every year and it’s just kind of bittersweet to see them go.”
“When I look at St. Paul Catholic High School, I physically see the exterior of the building with its many windows, doors, and bricks, an ordinary structure of a school. But I also see the true beauty of what lives inside – the supportive students and faculty, the happy memories that will never fully vanish, the faith of the close-knit community that makes it a unique learning environment, the goals I have accomplished with its walls, and the content feelings I have accumulated while finding my place in the school,” said salutatorian, Katie Pauloz, during her speech. “Days, months, and years will pass and our memories will fade, but an experience that has touched the heart will always remain.”
The Class of 2018 is:
Dominic F. Aiello, Paul Durstin Alderete, Abby Therese Aldieri, Fulvio Vincenzo Aliberti, Brandon Shawn Apicella, Tyler Arbuckle, Caroline Alexis Badal, Marissa R. Cansdale, Alyssa Marie Carlone, Atem Padraic Caron, Rachael L. Casertano, Gabriella Guadalupe Cervantes, Mariana Pombo Cervantes Segura, Minji Choi, Tessa Lynn Coleman, Brian Collins, Taylor Michelle Conner, Brian Patrick Considine, Ashley Elizabeth Crowley, Elizabeth Anila Darragjati, Kendall J. Davis, Noah Anthony DeFeo, Christopher Michael Dionne, Anthony William DiPietro, Victoria Jean DiPinto, Joel Richard Duhaime, Elizabeth Mary Etter, Brigett Ainsleigh Fithian-Giantonio, Seth Foley, Garret Anthony Gallo, Matthew Thomas Garry, Patrick Steven George, Rebecca Rosa Gionfriddo, Matthew Brian Goodwin, Ryan Patrick Greene, Kayleigh Victoria Grustas, Evan Michael Guerrera, William A. Haase, Gabriella Christine Hamelin, Alena Hauer, Molly Rose Hooks, “Wanting “Orenda”” Huang, TianChi Huang,
Julianna Reilly Iacovelli, Brendan Kendrick, Victoria Rose Kilbourne, Brooke Madison Kirchner, Hannah Jolene Kosikowski, Kamila Krawczuk, Eric Connell Langland, Timothy Paul Lemieux, Aidrianna-Gabrielle Lopez, Melissa Lopez, Benjamin J. LoRusso, “Si “Rose”” Luo, Christian L. Marcos, Carolyn Martin, Christopher “Matusik, Jr.”, Brooke Marie Mazzarelli, Kaitlyn Ashley Mazzarelli, Griffin McGowan, Emma Elizabeth McPhee, Tyanna T. Medrano, Elizabeth Marie Melvin, Noah Michael Mendoza, Hyelim Lucy Min, Nicholas Robert Morrell, Evelyn Marie Nassif, Liam Patrick Norton, Lindsey Madison O’Bright, Jocelyn Sally Oliva, Katelynn J. Ouellette, Michael R. Palmieri, Katie Elizabeth Pauloz, Vincent Edward Penisse, Joseph A. Persechino, Madisyn Ashlee Pietrafesa, Spencer James Planco, Veronica M. Przedworski, Damien Mitchell Rabis, Matthew John Raymond, Justin Michael Rigsby, Irene Rose Rotondo, Emilia Rybka, Jacob G. Sanzone, Joshua John Senese, Briana Maria Senese, Erin Ruth Shields, Makayla L. Skiffington, Kathryn Elizabeth Smith, Matthew W. Spar, Sarah Giles Stanford, Christian Sturm, KeHan Tu, Ryan Vaitkus, Maximillian Watson, Darek Zygmunt Wiecki, Beresford Samuel Wilson III, Nicole Wroblewski, “Zirui “Maggie”” Zhang, “Xuege “Doris”” Zhang, “Qingyu “Elijah”” Zhou, Gregory R. Ziobrowski, Connor Richard Zukauskas