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Archbishop Walsh Academy says farewell to close-knit 2019 senior class

Mon, Jun 10th 2019 11:00 am

By TOM DINKI Olean Times Herald

ST. BONAVENTURE — What Archbishop Walsh Academy’s graduation lacked in number of diplomas was more than made up for in intimacy.

The Class of 2019 valedictorian and salutatorian, Alexus Fisk and Joseph Ditz, respectively, personally addressed each and every one of their fellow graduates with a humorous quip about what they contributed to the class during their speeches — something that wouldn’t be possible at a larger, public school.

“In a public school … we probably would not even know each other,” Ditz said, “but, in our little class, we know each other well and all have our own special relationships.”

Whether it was the speeches or the slideshow of baby pictures, there was time for all nine members of the Class of 2019 to get plenty of recognition at Archbishop Walsh’s 59th commencement ceremony held at St. Bonaventure University’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts.

The private, Olean Catholic school said goodbyes to Fisk, Ditz, Onyca Charleston, Grace Greer, George Lowry, Fleur Oevering, Jessica Olson, Alix Printup and Mykayla Shaw.

Each one of their names were said aloud by the ceremony’s speaker, Jamestown Community College President and Archbishop alumnus Dr. Daniel DeMarte, during his commencement address.

He told them he’s confident they’ll be successful, but they will need preparation, courage and determination. He also provided advice, like arriving to your job early, surrounding yourself with people who make good decisions, trusting your instincts and stepping outside your comfort zone.

In message appropriate for such a small group of students, DeMarte also told them not to listen to those who say one person can’t change the world.

“Look no further than Mother Teresa or Steve Jobs,” he said. “You can indeed change the world. Courageous people are the ones who change the world.”

Noting they’ll be going into areas like engineering, law, medicine and the military, Fisk told her fellow graduates how proud she was of them after watching them grow together throughout the years.

She said they became a “family,” helping each other through the school’s rigorous International Baccalaureate programme. She added that while it will be difficult for them to no longer see each other every day, she knows they will all “have bright futures.”

The nine-member class has earned $2.63 million in scholarships and other grants, according to Archbishop Walsh officials.

Danielle Michel, Archbishop Walsh IB programme coordinator, said the “quirky” group understood the importance of studying and classwork, as well as naming and feeding the squirrels outside the school.

“Thank you, Class of 2019, for your fantastic spirit, energy, entertainment and joy you brought to our classrooms,” she said.

Thomas Manko, Archbishop Walsh and Southern Tier Catholic School president and principal, said he’s confident the graduates are well prepared for their chosen career paths and will eventually “assume significant roles and responsibilities for their community and their church.”

(Contact reporter Tom Dinki at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter, @tomdinki)



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