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Archbishop Walsh graduates 11 Friday at intimate ceremony

by jpolicastro
Mon, Jun 4th 2018 09:35 am

 BY CINDY WAGNER, Olean Times Herald

ST. BONAVENTURE — $2,413,216 and counting — that's the amount of scholarship money awarded so far to this year's Archbishop Walsh Academy's tiny graduating class, all of whom are planning to attend college.

The 11 seniors — along with junior exchange student Jasmin Liu, who will now leave for her home in Austria after one year at Walsh — celebrated their accomplishments in front of hundreds of family and friends Friday night at the 58th commencement, held at St. Bonaventure University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. Graduates included Jackson Bacon, Brock Foster, Kelly Fitzgerald, Sophia Garvin, Inez Gilson, Cameron Howard, Samara Lindberg, Joseph Scordo, Todd Shaw, Tioga Simpson and Aliyah Tejera.

From songs to speeches, to flowers for those who got them there, the students relished their moment in the spotlight. Ceremonies began with Archbishop Walsh and Southern Tier Catholic School president Tom Manko welcoming the audience, and the invocation was given by Father David Tourville, canonical administrator.

Valedictorian Garvin spoke individually to each graduate, reminding them of everything they had experienced together.

"We can recognize how special it was to learn and live in a small class ... we may not have had these experiences in a larger setting," she said.

Tejera, salutatorian, spoke to fellow classmates also about togetherness, noting that "unity is especially important," in today's culture.

"I think senior year is when we realized we have this massive senior brain, this is what makes our class of 2018 an example ... without unity, our class would have been a bunch of bumbling idiots," Tejera said.

Guest speaker Elizabeth Powers, senior vice-president and chief human resources officer for Allegheny Technologies Inc., headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa., told the story of a student who wasn't very athletic or social and who had decided against college before she even graduated. After a lot of part-time, dead-end jobs and a few false starts at furthering her education, her hard work and determination finally paid off.

Of course, she was speaking about herself.

Powers urged the students to remember five things. First, always have faith — in yourself, others and God. Second, know your strengths and manage your weaknesses. Third, you don't have to be conventional to succeed. Fourth, afford to take time off for yourself and your family. And finally, keep your sense of humor.

"All of you, you will amaze yourselves," she concluded.

Mrs. Danielle Michel, IB Diploma programme coordinator, spoke to the class individually and let each know how they'll be remembered.

A slideshow of the children pictured as they once were was well-received by the audience, as were the flowers that each senior presented to the member of the audience who they felt deserved special recognition.

After a benediction by Sister Carol Cimino, superintendent of schools, Diocese of Buffalo, the students capped off the evening by throwing their caps into the air in celebration.

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