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Class of 2021 Goes Marching On

June 14, 2021

Back in September, there were many students, parents and teachers who wondered if they would ever get to graduation day and if so, what would it look like? It seemed so far away, and there were so many mountains to climb before reaching it. Despite the difficulties, the Class of 2021 persevered, and one could argue it was their hope and faith that brought them to the other side.

One hundred and thirty graduates attended Saint Raphael Academy’s 94th commencement ceremony on Sunday, June 13, at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. The crowd of well-wishers in attendance may have been smaller than in years past due to lingering COVID restrictions on indoor events for school functions, but their presence was definitely felt virtually as the entire ceremony was livestreamed on the Academy’s Facebook page.

Students filed into the cathedral and sat two to a pew to stay distant, with their families seated nearby.

Saints’ chaplain Ryan Simas offered the opening prayer, and Vice Principal of Academics Judy Baxter greeted those present, complimenting the class on a job well done. She introduced Isabella Calise, salutatorian of the Class of 2021, who will attend Boston College in the fall and study political science.

The theme of Isabella’s speech was remembering the past. She said she noticed Hallmark cards in the store and how graduation cards almost always focus on the future. She instead made a case for looking at the past and remembering good experiences and bad because that is what shaped each of them.

“That is because, standing here today, we are living mosaics of each interaction, experience, and memory we have made. We must remember the good, the bad, and the ugly, because they are what make up our past and sculpt our future,” she said.

Then, each graduate’s name was called as they came forward to receive their diplomas from Principal Dan Richard, Superintendent Dan Ferris and Auxiliary Bishop Robert Evans¬, a tradition that was not possible just 12 months prior. Parents quietly edged closer to the front of the cathedral to capture the special moments with their cell phones and cameras.

Cooper Arnold, valedictorian, came forward to receive his medal of recognition. He will attend the University of Virginia and also study political science. In his speech to the class, Cooper spoke about the parable of the mustard seed, saying that the story of the tiny unassuming seed that eventually grows into a large, magnificent tree can be compared to each of his fellow graduates.

“We started as a mere mustard seed, and with our dreams and aspirations are on our way to becoming a beautiful tree with wide branches and thousands of leaves,” he said. “Never stop growing, never stop dreaming, and never forget the miracle that you are and always will be.”

His speech resonated with the class, as he received a quick standing ovation from his classmates.
Student award winners were also recognized during the ceremony (see the full list below), including merit and next-in merit in each subject, plus special scholarship award winners. The Edith Peck Memorial Award, Saints’ highest honor given to recognize dedication to academics, service to others and leadership within the school and the community, was awarded to Isabella.

As the class president, Isabella also led the entire class in the turning of the tassel, a jubilant moment punctuated by cheers from the Class of 2021 and their families.

In his remarks to the class, Principal Dan Richard acknowledged that it was a tough year for seniors, who had two years of their high school careers disrupted by the pandemic. However, he commended them on their accomplishments and focused on the theme of hope.

“All of us face struggles and challenges—hopefully nothing like a pandemic—but during those uncertain times, it is critical we never lose hope. The great American poet Emily Dickinson had her own very unique description of hope. She said, ‘Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.’ My hope is that all of us today continue to hear the soft voice of Hope in our souls and allow it to always propel us forward to a better future!”

With a closing blessing from Bishop Evans, Saint Raphael Academy’s newest alumni went out into the wide world, continuing to dream, filled with hope, and never forgetting the past.




AWARD WINNERS—CLASS OF 2021

GENERAL EXCELLENCE NEXT IN MERIT
Cooper Arnold Isabella Calise

EXCELLENCE IN THEOLOGY ……………………...………………...………….………........Isabella Calise
Next in Merit……………………………………………………...……….…..….....……..……..Cooper Arnold
EXCELLENCE IN ENGLISH….……………………………….…………………..…...………..Isabella Calise
Next in Merit…………………………………………………………………….………..……….Cooper Arnold
EXCELLENCE IN MATHEMATICS………………...…………………….…………..Isaac Arbeláez Venegas
Next in Merit………………………………………………….……………………….………….Cooper Arnold
EXCELLENCE IN SCIENCE………………………………………………………..….….…Katharine Bianchi
Next in Merit……………………………………………………………….…….……..Mary Nicole Hunsberger
EXCELLENCE IN SPANISH……………………………………………..……………………..Sophia Bianchi
Next in Merit………….…………………………………………………………..Taylor Quinn & Lauren Reilly
EXCELLENCE IN FRENCH…………………………………………………..……….…….Angelica Sandoval
Next in Merit………………………………………………………………………….………..............Jaime Lee
EXCELLENCE IN BUSINESS……………………………..……………………..….….………...Jacob Lebeuf
Next in Merit……………………………………………..………………………………………..Diego Romero
EXCELLENCE IN SOCIAL STUDIES………………….……………………………….…........Isabella Calise
Next in Merit………………………………………………………………………………………Cooper Arnold
EXCELLENCE IN THE ARTS………………………………………………….……………..Katherine Baxter
Next in Merit……………………………………………………………………………….…………Jacob Knox
EXCELLENCE IN PHYSICAL EDUCATION…………………………..……………………...Madison Kotch
Next in Merit…………………………………………………………….………………………….James Hurley

DISTINGUISHED AWARDS

EDITH PECK PHILLIPS MEMORIAL AWARD……………………...…………….…….……...Isabella Calise
MARGARET McGEOUGH MEMORIAL AWARD……………………………….……...…………..Madison Nault
LEONA ROGERS MEMORIAL AWARD……………………………….……………….……………Isabella Calise
RITA PRATT MEMORIAL AWARD…………………………………………………………………..Victoria Silva
HENRY A. BARRY ’31 MEMORIAL AWARD……………………………….………………....….Darius Kipyego
DALTON-HULME ’64 MEMORIAL AWARD……………………………….……………….……...Cooper Arnold
C. DONA MAYNARD ’29 AWARD……………………………………...…………….…...………...Amaya Dowdy
JOSEPH T. MCHALE ’62 AWARD………………………………..………..…………...……………...Lauren Reilly
COLONEL JAMES A. MACDOUGALD ’46 MEMORIAL AWARD……………………...Mary Nicole Hunsberger
DENNIS M. LYNCH, JR. ’74 MEMORIAL AWARD………………………..Hunter Parker & Jeffrey Pimental, Jr.
DOREEN A. TOMLINSON ’80 MEMORIAL AWARD………………………………….…………Victoria Jacques
SHAWN M. NASSANEY ’94 MEMORIAL AWARD………………………………….……................Jacob Lebeuf
GARY JACK ’74 MEMORIAL AWARD……………………………………………..…………...……...Jacob Knox
PRINCIPAL’S LEADERSHIP AWARD……………………………..………….………………Chatham McCloskey
SAINT JOHN BAPTIST DE LA SALLE AWARD……………………...…………….……….……...Jessica Hanley
OUTSTANDING BUSINESS STUDENT AWARD………………………..…………………………...Jacob Lebeuf
FIRST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT AWARD…………….………………….…...…………….…Cooper Arnold
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR LEADERSHIP AWARD…………………..…………………….Paul Guevremont, Jr.
THOMAS E. BURGESS ’29 MEMORIAL AWARD…..………………………………...…………..Olivia Costanzo
SENATOR PELL MEDAL IN AMERICAN HISTORY……………………….…………….…...…...Cooper Arnold
SIGNUM FIDEI AWARD………………………………………Taylor Quinn, Katharine Bianchi & Sophia Bianchi
OUTSTANDING SERVICE AWARDS…... …………………………………….Cooper Arnold, Katharine Bianchi,
Sophia Bianchi, Isabella Calise, Kyla D’Eletto, Jayda Feole, Paul Guevremont, Jr., Mary Nicole Hunsberger, Jacob Knox, Madison Kotch, Spencer Lambert, Jamison Lopes, Natalie Maddox, Chatham McCloskey, Meryem Oldro, Madelyn Paquette, Hadiya Pfeiffer, Gia Porcelli, Taylor Quinn, Lauren Reilly, Athena Rodrigues, Emily Ryder, Camille Santos, Jillian Serra, Victoria Silva

SAINTS ANGEL AWARDS….……………………………….Olivia Costanzo, Rachael Mongeau & Lauren Reilly
PERFECT ATTENDANCE AWARDS………...Mary Nicole Hunsberger, Abby Pinault & Isaac Arbeláez Venegas