SRA Graduates 91st Class
June 13, 2018
In the lower level of the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, the mood was happy and excited as the 85 soon-to-be graduates of Saint Raphael Academy took selfies with friends and their favorite teachers, donned honors cords and gratefully accepted mints from Pastoral Services Director Stephen Vargas. After gathering for one last informal photo as a class, they took their positions in two lines to file upstairs, to the pride and delight of their families and friends.
While being one of the smallest classes in SRA, they made a big impact. They had the highest SAT scores of any class at SRA, they participated in over 10,000 hours of Christian service, had two winners of the St. Timothy Award (see separate story), one Commended Student in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program, and yet another state drama championship. The Class of 2018 was also offered more than $12 million in scholarship funds.
Judy Baxter, vice principal for Academics, used classic Dr. Seuss quotes as the theme of her speech to the graduates. Advising students how to handle difficulties that they may encounter, Mrs. Baxter picked the Dr. Seuss quote, “‘If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.’
Sometimes things start to happen and we didn’t plan for them, or we weren’t expecting them. But it’s times like these that you just should just keep moving, move with those things so that you can ride them out rather than having them run you over. Grow to the situation, don’t let the situation grow out of control,” she said.
Salutatorian Oluwatoyin Okele spoke of literature and books, comparing herself and her classmates to the main characters of their own stories. “We need to ask ourselves, as time goes by, ‘Have I changed as a person? Am I making improvements in my life, in my plot line, in my story?’” She thanked her “supporting characters”—her fellow students, her teachers, family—who played a role in her own “character development.”
Degrees were conferred upon the 85 graduates, and the class congratulated themselves together with cheers and wide smiles when the last degree had been handed out. Class president Benjamin Bradley led the class in the traditional transfer of their tassels to the other side of their mortarboards.
Valedictorian Bryce Gillis urged his classmates, “As we move forward in life, I ask each one of you to recognize that we all have goals which seem too lofty or too difficult to attain, but why else should these goals exist if not to challenge us? The highest of mountains are meant to be climbed.”
A common thread that was interwoven through all the speeches from administrators was “once a Saint, always a Saint,” and that the new graduates were always welcomed home at any time.
Principal Dan Richard told the class, “As you join the Saint Raphael Academy graduates who have gone before you, may you always be Saints graduates who keep the values of learning, leadership, and service as the cornerstones of your decisions and the hallmark of your character. No matter where you go or whatever you do, you will always be a part of our Lasallian family.”