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Archbishop Walsh Academy 57th Commencement

Mon, Jun 12th 2017 11:45 am

 Written by Tom Dinki, Olean Times Herald

ST. BONAVENTURE — Archbishop Walsh Academy graduations have far fewer diplomas to hand out than most local high schools.

Yet the intimate ceremony Friday night for the Class of 2017 allowed each of the 11 graduating seniors a moment in the spotlight, from their accomplishments and future plans being read aloud to their baby pictures flashing across the screen during a video tribute.

The private Catholic school's 57th commencement, held at St. Bonaventure University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, allowed school officials to say emotional goodbyes to seniors Jordon Andrews, Andrianna Baskin, Krailyn Clayton, Kyra Fowler, Willow Greer, Katariina Idla, Tavien Kemp, Kyla McNell, Klaus Oren, Grant Stephen and Jade Swick.

"Whether college or work or the military, I'm most confident our graduates are well prepared for their chosen career paths and will assume significant roles for their communities and church," said Thomas Manko, Archbishop Walsh Academy and Southern Tier Catholic School president and principal.

Stephen, the class valedictorian, spoke about the close bond of the small Walsh community during his speech. He recalled transferring to Southern Tier Catholic School, Walsh's elementary and middle school counterpart, from a public school in eighth grade and being taken aback by the school's size.  

"There were less students, less extracurricular activities, one gym that doubled as an auditorium, and a chapel," he said. "My first thought was: What the heck did I get myself into?"

However, Stephen came to appreciate what the school had to offer.

"What I soon found out was that I was in an environment where religion and values were taught, community service was expected, diversity was natural and small only meant it was more personal," he said.

That diversity included two foreign exchange students in the graduating class: Idla, who is from Estonia, and Oren, who is from Norway. Stephen said Walsh is proud to "show so many international students and teachers our American ways."

A. Anthony Annunziato, a Walsh Class of 1966 graduate and longtime benefactor to the school, delivered his commencement speech directly to the Class of 2017, opting to face away from the audience and toward the seniors.

He told them that he thought success was financial when he was young, but that as he grew older he learned money isn't the only way to be successful.

"What is a good way to be successful — Christ has talked about it, Buddhists talk about it — it's about the relationships you have," he said. "You should think about what you can do to support that relationship."

Success — and eventually money — will come by focusing on other people, not yourself, Annunziato said. He ended his speech by asking the seniors to do something in service to one of their family members.

The class certainly gave their appreciation to their families during the presentation of flowers — a Walsh graduation tradition where seniors give flowers to family members in the audience. One student Friday handed a flower to a faculty member before an emotional embrace.

The ceremony wrapped up with another Walsh tradition, as the class went outside and threw their caps in celebration.

To visit the Olean Times Herald Website click here.

Events

Spirit Week!
Sep. 25th, 2017 12:00 am
Soccer - CCA @ Walsh
Sep. 25th, 2017 4:30 pm
Soccer - Walsh @ WSCS
Sep. 26th, 2017 4:30 pm
View All Events...

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