The graduating eighth graders of All Saints Academy had a rare opportunity this year to begin establishing what later classes will know as a school tradition.
As the second graduating class of a school established in late 2008, this year’s graduates had an extra year to establish an identity.
“This class was very interested in social justice,” said Principal Sister Eileen Jude Wust before the June 11 graduation ceremony at St. Henry Church. “This group of students took an intense interest in such things as the local food pantry, doing projects at school to help those less fortunate than they are.”
“All of us at All Saints were encouraged to treat each other with respect and kindness.” – Olivia Tarrio
For Sister Eileen Jude Wust, this posed a remarkable challenge for the students and parents, who somehow had to come together and recognize themselves as part of a new institution.
But she said the class came together remarkably, setting the standard for future classes.
She said each one of the students, parents, teachers, and administrators played a key role in the success of the first year by having a positive attitude, as well as providing active support.
She called them “a very positive class,” and a class that had time to begin establishing school traditions.
She noted that many of the grads will move on to Catholic high schools.
“The fact that parents still choose to send their children to our school in this economy is a very positive sign,” she said. “It is clear they believe that we offer something different, and that God and faith play an important role in their children’s education.”
On June 11, Bishop Thomas Donato opened the ceremonies with a prayer, while Madeline Fiadini Lo Re, a founder of the foundation for cancer prevention, served as the keynote speaker.
The 52 students, seated in the five front rows of the church, reacted in various ways to the powerful moment, some glancing at each other with nervous grins, others staring down at their hands, while others looked back toward family members for encouragement or support.
Yet all seemed just a little stunned, as if they are moving on from All Saints just at a moment when they finally came together as a class.
During his remarks, Monsignor Paul Schetelick said Catholic education is different, but must compete against values that are being projected by media giants such as Lady Gaga.
“What these [people] are putting into our young’s minds is contrary to what we believe,” he said.
He added that schools like All Saints Academy hopefully give students a value system they can carry into a world of questionable values. He said he hopes students will be strong enough not to be forced to choose between “God and Lady Gaga.”
“But they live in a world that we have prepared them to live in, a world where they can take their place as adults who hold on to their values,” he said.
Graduates were asked to write essays on their reflections on the year. Graduate Olivia Tarrio recited excerpts from her essay during the ceremony.
She talked about the foundation of the new school, and some of the ideals that the school instilled in its students.
“All of us at All Saints were encouraged to treat each other with respect and kindness,” she said.