HIGH SCHOOL BACCALAUREATE:
On Tuesday, May 22nd, the graduating seniors and their families gathered with the HRA faculty and special guests at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church for their Baccalaureate Mass. Our surprise guest presider was Fr. Mark Francis Manzano, O.P. Concelebrating priests were Fr. Stephen Maekawa, O.P., Fr. Dominic David Maichrowicz, O.P., and Fr. Arthur Roraff. Thank you to all the priests who joined us for this special liturgy. We would also like to thank St. Patrick’s parish and the following special participants:
Altar Servers: Jonas Knox (8th), Nick Deering (9th), Will Deering (10th)
Readers: Mrs. O’Neill and Miss Morris
Cantors: Mr. Hodgson and Mrs. Welsh
Petitions: Miss Neumayr
Faculty Choir Leaders & Accompaniment: Mrs. Kinder, Mrs. Welsh, and Mr. Brendan Mezzetti
After the Baccalaureate Mass, seniors, their families, faculty, and invited guests adjourned to the St. Patrick’s Deacons Hall for a fine Mediterranean meal and reception ceremony that included a speech from Mr. Welsh and a lovely slideshow about the seniors made by Mr. John Woyte and Stephen Woyte (’18). Mr. Welsh’s speech on Wisdom is provided here:
An Education for Wisdom
One of the defining characteristics of our time is the incredible amount of information which is available to us via the internet. Nearly any fact, no matter how trivial, can be Googled or looked up on Wikipedia. Any equation can be solved, any opinion read or heard, any bit of news or entertainment watched.
According to estimates by one data-analytics firm, in 2017, users from around the globe conducted 3.6 million Google searches, watched 4 million YouTube videos, and sent 15 million text messages every minute! In total, we created around 2.6 quintillion bytes of data every single day. A quintillion, by the way, is 1 with 18 zeros after it. We are inundated with information.
This unprecedented and mind-boggling amount of information presents us with a problem. What are we supposed to do with it all? How are we going to sift through so much data, so much noise, and fake news to find what is good and true and worthwhile? On the face of it, the task looks impossible.
An analogous puzzle faced some of my students recently in their Euclidean Geometry class. The question was how many prime numbers are there? Now the answer is, there is an infinite number of primes. But how could one possibly know that? Could you count an infinite number of things? The answer is no, and on the face of it then, this also looks impossible.
But Euclid shows a way to prove there are infinite primes, not by counting them all, but by skipping the counting altogether. He argues from the principles of numbers that the primes, by their nature must increase without end. It turns out we don’t need to count them all if we just understand the principles of mathematics thoroughly.
A similar approach applies to study natural science or the philosophy of government. How can we learn anything about atoms or people if there are so many of them? We can’t possibly look at every single individual, but luckily, we don’t have to. We just need to understand the principles underlying subatomic particles or the human person, which we can then apply to any particular case.
Understanding the fundamental principles is difficult work, but these principles show us how the whole subject is ordered, and why it behaves the way it does. Understanding the fundamental causes then is very important, so much so that the Greek philosopher Aristotle gives it a special name. That name is Wisdom.
This is why our students spend so much time grappling with the essential questions posed by some of the greatest minds in each of their subjects, through hundreds of discussions, dozens of essays, and their junior and senior theses before they graduate. We want them to understand the principles and be wise.
But Wisdom is something beyond simply knowing the principles of mathematics or natural science. St. Thomas Aquinas reminds us that there is a difference between natural wisdom, namely an understanding of the principles which we attain through reason, and supernatural Wisdom, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is this supernatural gift which is the first and greatest of the gifts, allowing the soul to be oriented completely toward God, and to see how all things are ordered to Him.
Supernatural Wisdom is not concerned so much with principles but instead the Principle. And what is this principle? Or, perhaps who?
St. Paul, in 1st Corinthians 1:23, says, “We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
Christ crucified then, is the Wisdom of God, the ultimate ordering principle. Christ crucified is He who gives our lives and our world order and meaning. As we hear in Romans quoted at the end of the Eucharistic prayer during mass, “Through him, with Him, and in Him, all things were made.”
This is the Wisdom we desire most of all for our seniors. This is the Wisdom that allows us to judge rightly what is true and good and worthwhile, to make sense of the seemingly endless amount of information, to pick out the signal from the noise.
May Christ who is Wisdom guide them through their lives ahead.
May He bless them on their journey.
After these remarks, a current or former member of the HRA faculty came forward to say a few words about one of the seniors in turn. It was delightful to hear the touching insights and reflections about each of the seniors.
We sincerely thank our parent and student volunteers for decorating the hall, catering, and cooking the meal: Joseph Bjelland (11th), Mrs. Cookson, Mrs. Grandel, Alec Grandel (’17), Jacinta Grandel (11th), Jacob Grandel (8th), Mrs. Kelly, Christopher Knox (11th), Mrs. Krol, Mrs. Patton, Dr. van Tets, the Woyte family, and Mr. Wright. We also thank the high school juniors who served the meal: Thomas Biegel, Andrew Cookson, Felicity Hart, John Lastimoso, Savio Le, Alexander O’Neill, Sofia Sidun, and Isabella van Tets.
HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION
On Wednesday, May 23rd, the entire HRA community started the school day at Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral for the Graduation Mass with Archbishop Etienne, Fr. Shijo, and Fr. Whitney. We would also like to thank Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral and the following special participants:
Altar Servers: Alexander O’Neill (11th), Macklen Bell (10th), and Isaac Grandel (6th)
Cantor: Jacinta Grandel (11th)
1st Reading: Drew Benton (’18)
Psalm: Lael Droege (’18)
2nd Reading: Ciara McMorrow (’18)
Presentation of the Gifts: Atlin Bell (’18), Juliana Biegel (’18), and Michael Lucas (’18)
After the Mass, everyone adjourned to the Lunney Center for the graduation ceremony. Once all the guests were seated, the graduates entered to “Pomp & Circumstance” and the official Graduation began. Fr. Dominic David Maichrowicz, O.P. led the Opening Prayer. Alexander O’Neill (11th), Jacinta Grandel (11th), and Felicity Hart led the “Pledge of Allegiance”, the National Anthem, and the “Alaska Flag Song”, and the Holy Rosary Academy “Fight Song”. Miss Neumayr made the Welcoming Remarks and introduced our former chaplain, Fr. Fisher, who gave the Chaplain’s Remarks (Fr. Fisher’s remarks are unavailable at this time.)
After the chaplain’s remarks, Miss Neumayr announced the various awards the seniors have earned during their senior year or as a part of their college application process:
- Atlin Bell received the UA Scholars award for graduating in the top 10% of the PACE charter program through which he was dual-enrolled. He also qualified for the Alaska Performance Scholarship which goes to Alaskan high school graduates who earn a 3.5 GPA or better in a rigorous course list as well as scoring 1210 or better on the SAT. He will use these scholarships to attend the University of Alaska at Anchorage where he hopes to study business.
- Drew Benton was recognized as a Commended National Merit Scholar for his 11th Grade scores on the PSAT, placing him in the top 50,000 students in the nation. Additionally, he received the Benedict Knights of Columbus Council’s Annual Scholarship for $500. His top choice of colleges is currently Grand Canyon University but he will also be applying to UAA.
- Juliana Biegel will be attending UAA in the fall with an undeclared major.
- Lael Droege has been accepted to Benedictine College, Carroll College, Seattle University, and UAA with merit scholarships from all that offer it. She will attend UAA with the intention of transferring to Benedictine College where she will major in business or political science.
- Gabrielle Holder was accepted to Oklahoma University, University of Dallas, Benedictine College, and Ave Maria University with merit scholarships from all schools. She will pursue nursing at Ave Maria in the fall.
- Sam Jemmings has qualified to play on a Major Junior hockey team in Boston next year where he will have an opportunity to be seen by college and pro recruiters from around the country.
- Michael Lucas has chosen to attend Benedictine College after being accepted to the University of Mary; Benedictine College; Notre Dame University of Ohio; Luther College; Doane College; and St. John’s University of Minnesota. During high school, Michael was a three-time State Wrestling Champion and Track Athlete of the Year this year.
- Hanna Massell will use a merit scholarship to attend Wyoming Catholic College.
- Ciara McMorrow was offered merit scholarships from each school when she was accepted to University of Mary, University of Wyoming, Grand Canyon University, and the University of Alaska at Anchorage. She will use the Alaska Performance Scholarship to attend UAA and study nursing. She was also awarded $500 for the Benedict Knights of Columbus Council’s Annual Scholarship. Ciara received a Certificate of Completion since she graduated from the IDEA, attending HRA part-time.
- Forrest Rose was accepted to the University of Alaska at Anchorage and the Missouri University of Science & Technology. He will pursue a degree in Electrical Engineering at MST with $98,000 of merit scholarships over his four years, including the Miner Scholarship, the Miner Out of State Scholarship, and University Scholarship.
- Jon Syren was accepted to Hillsdale College, the University of Dallas, and Gonzaga University with offers of merit scholarships from each school. Jon is the HRA recipient of the UA Scholars award for having the highest GPA in the graduating class.
- Stephen Woyte has enlisted in the Alaska Air National Guard and was accepted to Marquette University, Hamline University, the University of North Dakota, the University of Alaska at Anchorage, and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University World-Wide. Stephen will delay his college studies until after he has completed Basic Training, Loadmaster School, and his initial training with the 249th Air Lift Squadron at JBER. He also completed his Eagle Scout project this year and earned a $250 scholarship for placing second in the Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen essay contest.
Each graduate also received a letter of congratulations from Governor Bill Walker which was read during the ceremony.
Our Keynote Speaker, Mrs. Ali Ann Stramilov, had the following words for the graduates:
18 years ago, I was living in Rome. I spent my mornings in class in an old convent, built by Borromini; I spent my afternoons roaming the ancient city walking the streets saints and Emperors trod, discovering hidden chapels, ancient ruins and other wonders my eyes had never seen. Little did I know that simultaneously, there were children being born on the other side of the globe whom 18 years later I would address at their high school graduation!
I must be honest, I have been thinking about this speech since August. What can I say to the graduating class of 2018?
Do you realize how much has been invested in you with the education you have received at Holy Rosary?
Do you realize how many sacrifices have been made for you by your parents and teachers to see that you were educated to recognize truth and follow its path?
Do you see all these little eyes of the lower school smiling and looking up to you?
I have some sense of how much has been invested in you since I stand before you as a teacher and a mother. Someday you too will understand.
Now, I’m going to start with a quiz. Who remembers the song the kindergarteners sang at the All Saints Day festival?
The Angel came to Mary in Nazareth. Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Christ has died and is risen in Jerusalem! Nazareth! Bethlehem! Jerusalem!
Those simple words come from Maria Montessori’s Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for young children.
This song has punctuated our year in Kindergarten and these three cities of Nazareth, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem symbolizes what I want for you to imitate in this next journey of your life.
First: The town of Nazareth is where the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and asked her to be the Mother of God.
Our Lady responded with a single word, “Yes”; Fiat- let it be done unto me.
I encourage you to have the courage to say yes in your lives and to hear God’s call. In this, you imitate our Holy Mother.
The mind of a kindergartener is pure in his perception of the world. I’ve noticed all year how the older students in the upper schools look at them and with a little sigh say, “Awwww! So cute! Look at those tiny uniforms!” But I see beyond the exterior and see their earnest hearts. It makes them most willing to suspend what they do not know in order to say yes. They are very emphatic about saying yes and giving their yes to tasks at hand in the classroom. Their passion reminds us of what it means to be like little children- to give Christ our “Yes!”
Second: The town of Bethlehem is where Jesus was born.
Can you imagine the wonder the Virgin and Joseph felt and saw the night Jesus was born?
“Wonder is the beginning of knowledge, the reverent fear that beauty strikes within us,” writes a dear bishop friend of mine, Bishop James Conley, Bishop of Lincoln, NE.
If wonder is the beginning of knowledge, then what kind of reverent fear do you think Joseph had that night as Jesus and Mary slept in that stable? He is the witness to this beauty, to this miracle, this event that has changed history. The beauty he witnessed must have been piercing.
I hope that your teachers and parents have been able to convey a piece of that same beauty to you.
Bishop Conley recently wrote a column on wonder and education and it is pertinent to quote here:
“In our Catholic schools, the Lord has charged us an apostolate that allows us to form students to really live — not just to prepare to earn a living, but to experience what it means to live: the joy of friendship, the delight and wonder of learning; and acquiring a freedom that comes from living in accord with God’s plan. A good Catholic liberal education “frees” the soul to pursue truth, goodness, and beauty, in a lifelong quest for wisdom. But to continue forming our students well, it is important to understand the world in which they live.”
The Bishop goes on to recommend a book about the impact of technology on young people: “iGen,” by San Diego State University psychologist, Jean Twenge.
“Dr. Twenge has studied generational differences as a psychologist for 25 years. In her book, iGen, she writes, that around the year 2012, she noticed a dramatic shift in teen behaviors and emotional states. In fact, she says the shift was unlike anything she had ever seen in her own work…
2012 was the year that the proportion of Americans who owned a smartphone surpassed 50 percent. This fact, Dr. Twenge says, has completely shaped a generation. She calls them iGen’ers — young people born between 1995 and 2012.” This generation includes you!
“Twenge continues: ‘This generation of young people has grown up with smartphones and the internet available to them at all times. They live their lives on their phones. They report being more comfortable in their bedrooms than in a car with friends, or at a party.’
But they are not happy, or healthy…. They are living virtual lives. They are not experiencing real things. And, Dr. Twenge says, their virtual reality is what is making them unhappy.”
They are students sorely in need of wonder.
“‘All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all non-screen activities are linked to more happiness,’ Twenge says. ‘There is not a single exception.’ ”
So I challenge you to shut off your screens! Get out into the world and go in search of wonder.
I experienced wonder this year when I taught my kindergarteners to read. Mind you, that didn’t happen overnight. It was over the process of 140 lessons, day in and day out, amidst absences and squabbles, demerits and snowflakes. Yet, it is a wondrous moment when the light comes on in the eyes of a little person. You know, as you watch it, that a person has been changed forever, and you had a tiny part in that miracle.
The miracle of Christ’s birth was experienced by Mary and Joseph, “at midnight in Bethlehem in the piercing cold…” What wonder!
We come to the third city: JERUSALEM. Christ has died and is risen in Jerusalem!
Why do we say it like that? Christ has died. It happened in the past. Yet, He IS risen – that is proclaimed in the present. Why? It is in the present tense because it is a present event that happens continuously. Christ Indeed IS Risen!
I want to dwell for a minute on Christ’s suffering that too happened in Jerusalem. All of you seated here today, have shared in that suffering. None of you are that simple-hearted five-year-old kindergartener anymore. You’ve experienced loss or pain. We must remember Pope St. John Paul II’s words: “Be not afraid!” Christ was brave, He took up His cross; He died on Calvary. How can we expect anything less? Yet remember: He rose. How can we expect anything less than to rise?
There will be times in your life when you have to follow the example of the Suffering Servant after you have followed the Voice of the Good Shepherd and seen the Baby in the Manger in Bethlehem.
You might have grand ideas in your mind about the next four years. Those years will go by quickly. You’ll be the freest that you have ever been during that time but remember:
- In Nazareth, Mary said yes to God. Do the same.
- In Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph experienced the wonder of the birth of Christ. Do the same.
- In Jerusalem, Christ died. Don’t be afraid of suffering or of what your ‘yes’ means: death to yourself so that life can come from you. Christ IS risen and you will do the same.
Congratulations class of 2018!
With 12 graduates, the largest in HRA history, the Seniors selected Jon Syren as the class speaker to represent the whole class. This is a change from our long tradition of having a speech from each graduate. The entire Senior Class contributed to the writing of the speech which focused on expressing gratitude to the faculty of Holy Rosary Academy and particularly to Miss Neuamyr:
Graduation Speech (Jon Syren)
Charlie Brown once said, “Goodbyes always make my throat hurt… I need more hellos.” It is always hard to say goodbye to something you love. But it is hardest to say goodbye to something you love as much as the senior class of 2018 loves Holy Rosary Academy and the wonderful, beautiful people who have made the journey such a memorable experience. We do not simply leave behind a school, but we say goodbye to friends and dare I say, family. Friends we have had since childhood. Friends, so close it seems silly to refer to them as anything less than family. But we, as seniors, owe it not only to ourselves but to those that have made this journey incredible to recognize and express our most sincere gratitude to those teachers who have molded us into the adults you see before you today. We often refer to ourselves as the “working class”, not because of some obsession with tearing down the bourgeoisie but because that is part of who we are. A class that, because of the inspiration and motivation of the teachers and staff around us, has been inured with a sense of dedication and initiative. Skills that are absolutely essential in our adult lives as members of a society and in our pursuit of eternal glory. But it is not without those teachers- those paragons of excellence and pillars of our school community- that we are who you see before you today. And so rather than rattle off a litany of thank you’s to people in every one of our families, the graduating class of 2018 decided it would be more appropriate to dedicate the graduation speech to our teachers.
To start with, we go back in time, back to the days when only a few of the seniors on this stage were in this school at all. One of these seniors is Atlin Bell. Atlin participated in a geography bee he won with flying colors, all thanks to his dedicated teacher, Mr. Shaut. And so Mr. Shaut, we thank you, not only for the dedication and service you have given to this school but for molding your students with a sense of direction. Whereas some may consider a geography bee to be just that, you have given students an insight into the geography of the capabilities of our minds. You have given us the incentive to be the very best we can be in all things and to explore the potential of our own intellects. For this we thank you.
Good handwriting has long been part of the criteria associated with the lady and the gentleman. The delicate and beautiful art of cursive is a priceless skill to have and the members of Ms. Verreux’s class who now graduate are eternally grateful for endowing them with the ability, not only to write with the skill becoming a scholar but for gifting us with the opportunity to practice good manners in everything. Even our handwriting.
Speaking of manners the senior class now turns its attention to Mrs. Shaut, who, with the help of Tacky Turtle Table Manners, taught her students the art of proper behavior at the table. Once again, that impeccable manner at the table stems from good habits performed at an early age. And so the senior class would like to thank Mrs. Shaut as well. For teaching us how to act at the table as well as gifting us with a virtuous habit we will act upon for years to come. As a side note, the senior class also expresses gratitude to you, Mrs. Shaut for canonizing Forrest Rose. His saintliness will forever be a blessing to us.
Good habits and manners allow us to better experience the finer things in life. Orchestra performances and theatre productions are part of that higher living experience that mankind creates and enjoys. That is why we give thanks to Ms. Frania. She gave her students multiple opportunities to experience the wonder and magic of Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf so many times. While some would balk at the idea of seeing Peter and the Wolf more than once we of the senior class recognize what a boon it is to see a beautiful production like that more than once.
Peter and the Wolf is not the only musical production our senior class is thankful for. We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude toward Mr. Main for having his students listen to School-House Rock. While it is not as traditional a musical piece as Peter and the Wolf, it still taught your students many lessons that enabled us to practice virtue in all we do.
To Mr. Clarke the senior class thanks for assisting them so much with Latin Declamations. Some may dismiss Latin as a dead language while still more may fail to grasp or comprehend the beauty of it. Not so with you Mr. Clarke. You taught your students the necessity to keep the beauty of that language alive in our hearts and minds through the art of poetry. And I believe Forrest Rose extends his thanks to you more personally for instilling in him the fear of being caught with a phone in class.
To Mrs. Schirda (or Auntie- Ni), the senior class wishes to thank you for a strict grammar course and for excellent dating advice to budding teenagers. We all know how much that sort of advice actually helps, even if we do not care to admit it. But most importantly you inspired in your students a sense of dedication. You motivated your students to strive to give all that they had rather than operate with a part-time attitude. Thank you for making us, dedicated scholars.
To Miss Syren (or Aunt Tess), we thank you for giving us hope. Hope that there is always a second chance. For instilling in us the hope that God will give all his children a chance to redeem themselves. Whereas God does this through grace, you gave us this Hope through Extra Credit. Thank you for constantly giving us a chance to either redeem or improve on our work.
Mr. Murray, one of the newest teachers this year, you taught us discipline through adversity with an abundance, nay, a superabundance of demerits, demerits that, while annoying, provided us with the opportunity to flourish and persevere despite our flaws. We will need that discipline as we move into our college lives. That discipline also extends to our writing, of which we will be doing an abundance of in college. Thank you for keeping the rules strict when it came to writing and measuring our margins. On a personal note, I would like to thank you for the Vocab drills and the Grammar Worksheets. Even though no one in this class will agree with me, it was a pleasure to work through those.
Mr. Klotz, some within this senior class look to you as the paragon of masculine perfection. Well, one student but through the use of the Fifth Amendment, I will not say anything about any one or more persons on grounds which may incriminate myself or those persons. You are another clear example of how valued discipline is in school. Like sending us uncontrollably laughing kids out when we needed to be sent out. Of course we all are dying to laugh at your beached whale impression that you consistently refuse to show anyone other than a select few, but the senior class would like to thank you for being an example to the rest of the school, not simply with your good looks and grace as one or more students may attest but also with your ability to learn so many foreign languages. You provide us with a daily example of just how much the human mind is capable of when it comes to learning anything at all. And speaking of demerits some members of the senior class voted your demerits to be the most finely worded.
Mr. Hodgson, another new teacher. The senior class has so much to be thankful for, be it your wealth of quotes that, out of context, are both outrageous and hilarious, or the maximum of one high five per person per lifetime. But the senior class would like most to thank you for teaching us the art of catching fallacies through implications. Not only did they provide us with brownie points and eventually actual brownies, but the entire concept taught us to be ever vigilant in our faith and to foster within ourselves the ability to detect and exterminate a fallacy. Thank you for gifting us with an insight into our faith and encouraging us to question it. Thank you for directing our hearts and minds to God. We all want to get to Heaven now because as you say, Heaven is like the best hair day ever.
Miss Morris, while we of the senior class never actually had the pleasure of being in your class, the senior class has unanimously agreed to thank you so much for the random chocolates and the mystery flavored Oreos. We ask that you please take care of the seniors of next year.
To Dr. Walters, we thank you firstly for taking care of Stephen this year during math and for welcoming him into your group so much so that he called it family. We thank you also for the extensive and beautiful notes you left for us on the board as well as colorful and masterfully drawn illustrations. Thank you for encouraging us all to take thorough notes in preparation for our college lives. Thank you also for your beautiful art presentations throughout the year. The art projects certainly helped us appreciate the beauty of art within history.
Finally, to Mr. Welsh. You have been a teacher at this school for a while now and the senior class would primarily like to congratulate you on your position as vice-principal of this school we love so dearly. We know that in the capable hands of yourself and Mrs. Williams the school will flourish. We would like to thank you for providing us with a wealth of wonderful memories that we will forever cherish in our minds, like your quotes and roasts, but we would especially like to thank you for being a member of the working class and for being there through our financial crisis’. Without your help, we as a class would have been utterly lost. Your sense of business and dedication knew no limits. Which was why if you ever felt someone added something unnecessary to the class, say for instance constantly asking to go outside you were able to take care of that problem instantly. And you did so while providing us with a well-worn and time-honored quote that will live on in infamy, ”you can go outside”. And I think I speak for the entire senior class when I finish with an apology. We are so sorry for knocking on your door and interrupting your class.
Before I finish this speech, I cannot do justice to this school without spending time talking about our dear friend, our fellow graduate, our beautiful teacher, and our motherly Principal, Miss Neumayr. You constantly remind us of our school motto. To pursue excellence. But if any of us wanted a reminder of what that really means we only need to look to you. Miss Neumayr you are the paragon of what it means to be dedicated. You are an inspiration. You are, in a word, excellent. And we are going to miss you with all our hearts. Not just the senior class but every single one of the people you have touched. Every heart that has ached and been comforted by you will once more feel that ache with the loss of your presence. Charlie Brown was right. Goodbyes make my throat hurt, but saying goodbye to you is like having my own heart wrenched from my chest. I have known you for, as you never fail to say, as long as I was born. And in all the years you and I, as well as the rest of the senior class have known each other, you have been an amazing principle. A wonderful teacher. And the best friend any of us will ever have. As Our Lady is the mother of the Church, you have been a mother to us all. Educating us and encouraging us to leave the nest and pursue truth in the great vastness of knowledge while at the same time nurturing us when we fall and fail. We thank you for everything. Everything about you is something to be thankful for. You are always there for every single one of us. You have time for us even when your day could not be more packed. You have sacrificed so much for this school. If those walls could speak they would sing out your praise as loud as they could. Your shoes are so big to fill but we know that you have entrusted your position to capable hands. And yet we know that no one could ever truly replace you. The school suffers a devastating blow with the loss of your radiant presence. We will truly miss your warm smile and your infectious laugh. We will miss that unforgettable sense of wonder and captivation at what you have to say, be it at those Monday assemblies or any seminar class. And it is with those beautiful memories that we are able to sustain ourselves with. And it is those memories we will cherish so dearly. You have left a huge mark on this school Miss Neumayr. History will be kind to you, for you have written it.
The senior class is grateful to our friends and family, but to our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, we have this to say: without the attention and devotion that these individuals I have mentioned have shown us throughout all these years, we would not be the people you see before you today. We will miss all of you dearly. And so, in the immortal words of Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” We the members of the graduating class of two thousand eighteen thank each and every one of you. And to those of you who will graduate next year, those of you on the cusp of adulthood, look to these individuals as sculptors who will shape you into works of art capable of achieving even the highest of your dreams. You have no idea how lucky you are to have such an excellent group of people as teachers.
Mr. Fleming and Miss Nuemayr presented the diplomas to each of the graduates in turn, who then proceeded down the receiving line of Trustees, benefactors, chaplains, and former and current faculty. After receiving their diplomas, the graduates were invited to move the tassels on their caps from their left to their right. Everyone’s attention was drawn to the banners around the Lunney Center designed by Mr. Eidem which featured an owl design and included drawings of each senior. Younger siblings and Campus Friends brought gift boxes filled with “Words of Wisdom” notes that each of the students had written to the graduates. Mrs. Williams distributed gift bags to each of the graduates as well. After receiving gifts, the graduates were invited to present framed portraits taken by Mr. Welsh as gifts to their parents.
Juliana Biegel, on behalf of the Yearbook Committee, presented Miss Neumayr with the gift of a yearbook and recognized her as an honorary member of the class of 2018 on behalf of the rest of the graduates.
Miss Neumayr presented Mr. Fleming with the gift of a statue of the Holy Family in commemoration of his many years of faithful service to Holy Rosary Academy. This is Mr. Fleming’s last year on the HRA Board of Trustees where he has served as Secretary/Treasurer/Faculty Liaison to the Board for the last six years. The statue will remain on display at Holy Rosary Academy so that we are all reminded to keep Mr. Fleming in our prayers.
In closing, Miss Neumayr made the following remarks:
Principal Neumayr’s Speech to the Graduates of 2018:
There are many reasons to remember your time at Holy Rosary Academy and many memories to take from your time here with us. But, of all the memories you take with you into your future, it is your love of truth, goodness, and beauty that I most wish for you this day. There is nothing else in this life that will lead you to love God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit more than the pursuit of truth, the practice of goodness, and the appreciation of beauty. This is the most real and enduring truth I can impart to you.
This year, in particular, it is clear to me that all twelve of you have come to a true realization of the great challenge it is today to be a practicing and believing Catholic. Each of you has come to your understandings through reading AND living your faith, battle by battle, day by day, argument by argument. You have engaged in a way that has made me proud. Each of you according to your ability has stretched and grown.
Now it is time for you to go out into the world and to share what you know to be true, good, and beautiful with others. Yet, you walk out into a world hostile to religion, to morality, to judgement, and to truth. How then, can you have an impact? How, then, can you evangelize in a way that can have an impact yet avoid being stigmatized as intolerant, judgmental, narrow-minded, or unkind?
There are many insights I could give you. But, I would ask you to indulge me by listening to the answer from one of the great Catholic voices of our day, Bishop Barron of Los Angeles and founder of the World on Fire Ministries, a series of books, talks, and Cd’s created to “Reawaken Catholicism in the Modern World.”
Bishop Barron writes:
“But, I also recommend as a means of propagating the faith, the third of the transcendentals, namely, the good.
Moral rectitude, the concrete living out of the Christian way, especially when it is done in a heroic manner, can move even the most hardened unbeliever to faith and the truth of this principle has been proven again and again over the centuries.
In the earliest days of the Christian movement, when both Jews and Greeks looked upon the nascent faith as either scandalous or irrational, it was the moral goodness of the followers of Jesus that brought many to belief. The Church Father, Tertullian, conveyed the wondering pagan reaction to the early church in his famous adage; “How these Christians love one another!” At a time when the exposure of malformed infants was commonplace, when the poor and the sick were often left to their own devices, and when murderous revenge was a matter of course, the early Christians cared for unwanted babies, gave succor to the sick and the dying, and endeavored to forgive the persecutors of the faith. And this goodness extended not simply to their own brethren and sisters, but astonishingly to outsiders and to enemies. This peculiarly excessive form of moral decency convinced many people that something strange was afoot among these disciples of Jesus, something splendid and rare. It compelled them to take a deeper look.
During the cultural and political chaos following the collapse of the Roman Empire, certain spiritual athletes took to the caves, deserts, and hills in order to live a radical form of the Christian life. From these early ascetics, monasticism emerged, a spiritual movement that led, in time, to the re-civilization of Europe.
What so many found fascinating was the sheer intensity of the monks’ commitment, their embrace of poverty, and their blithe trust in divine providence. Once again, it was the living out of the Gospel ideal that proved convincing. Something similar unfolded in the 13th century, a time of significant corruption in the Church, especially among the clergy. Saint Francis, Saint Dominic, and their confreres inaugurated the mendicant orders, which is just a fancy way of saying the begging orders. The trust, simplicity, service to the poor and moral innocence of the Dominicans and Franciscans produced a revolution in the church and effectively re-evangelized armies of Christians who had grown slack and indifferent in their faith.
And we find the same dynamic in our own time. Saint John Paul II was the second most powerful evangelist of the 20th century, but unquestionably the first was a woman who never wrote a major work of theology or apologetics, who never engaged skeptics in the public debate, and who never produced a beautiful work of religious art. I’m speaking of course, of Saint Teresa of Kolkata. No one in the last one hundred years propagated the Christian faith more effectively than a simple nun who lived in utter poverty and who dedicated herself to the service of the most neglected people in our society.
There is a wonderful story told of a young man named Gregory, who came to the great Origen of Alexandria in order to learn the fundamentals of Christian doctrine. Origen said to him. “First come and share the life of our community and then you will understand our dogma.” The youthful Gregory took that advice, came in time to embrace the Christian faith in its fullness and is now known to history as St. Gregory the Wonderworker. Something of the same impulse lay behind Gerard Manley Hopkins’s word to a confrere who was struggling to accept the truths of Christianity. The Jesuit poet did not instruct his colleague to read a book or consult an argument but rather, “give alms.” The living of the Christian thing has persuasive power.
We have been passing through one of the darkest chapters in recent Church history. The clerical abuse scandals have chased countless people away from Catholicism and the secularist tide continues to rise, especially among the young. My mentor, Cardinal George, surveying the scene, used to say, “I’m looking for the orders. I’m looking for the movements.” He meant, I think, that in times of crisis, the Holy Spirit tends to raise up men and women outstanding in holiness who endeavor to live out the Gospel in a radical and public way. Once again, I’m convinced that, at this moment, we need good arguments, but I’m even more convinced that we need saints.”
I share this wisdom from Bishop Barron, Seniors because it reviews all that you have learned here at HRA. You know this history. Therefore, you know what Bishop Barron has said is true.
Seniors, I pray that you will live a good life in every way. And that the good life that you live will attract many to the truth and beauty of your faith. You are armed with faith, hope, and love and you have fostered the good in your time here at Holy Rosary Academy. Go forth and preach the good news to all the nations in words but especially in deeds. God bless and keep all of you. You will always be in my heart and in my prayers. Congratulations, dear Seniors, and Godspeed!
Fr. Dominic David led everyone in a closing prayer before enjoying brownies, cake, and milk until students went home at 1:00 p.m.
We sincerely thank our parent and student volunteers who decorated the hall, baked brownies, and served treats & tidied up after the ceremony: Mrs. Reyes, Mrs. Ward, Mrs. Cookson, the Woyte family, Mrs. Bolin, Mrs. Denzer, Mrs. Auton, Ms. Hallam, Maggie Benton, and Dr. van Tets.
6TH & 8TH GRADE GRADUATION
On Thursday evening, May 24th, faculty, families, and friends gathered in St. Dominic’s Hall to celebrate the 6th & 8th Grade Graduation.
While it was much less formal than the High School Graduation, these students were honored for the important benchmark they met. Fr. Dominic David Maichrowicz, O.P. led the Opening Prayer. Miss Neumayr made the Welcoming Remarks. Mr. Hodgson gave the Keynote Address and the Address to the 8th Grade Class. Andy Duryea was the 6th Grade Speaker. (His speech is provided below.) Mrs. O’Neill gave the Address to the 6th Grade and conferred the 6th Grade diplomas. (Her speech is provided below.) Grace Ward was the 8th Grade Speaker. (Her speech is provided below.) Mrs. Furby conferred the 8th Grade diplomas. Miss Neumayr made a few Closing Remarks and Fr. Dominic David led the closing prayer. Everyone enjoyed the cake and pumpkin pies provided by Mrs. Patton and Mrs. Hart at the reception that followed.
6th Grade Class Speaker’s Address (Andrew Duryea):
First, I would like to say this has been one great Class! We have shared great moments with one another. First days can be meeting new people, for some a start to a new beginning, but really it is teamwork, kindness, and love for one another, as our prayers say love your neighbor as yourself. This class has accomplished that.
Everyone has their own unique personality. The whole class can trust each other; we all work very hard at academics. When we might not get good grades, I think of Winston Churchill’s words, “success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
I would like to thank Mrs. O’Neill. Without her encouragement towards all students, our education would be nowhere. When students walk in that door we are happy to see each other. We are also happy to see Mrs. O’Neill. Mrs. O’Neill, you are a great teacher and we are so blessed to have you as our teacher.
We must also remember that God has brought us all together and God has united us this year.
We have had a blessed year together.
Address to the 6th Grade (Mrs. O’Neill):
Parent, family, friends, faculty, staff, priests, and Miss Neumayr,
It is my pleasure to speak to you this evening about this very special 6th Grade class. In a word, this class is energized. An excellent example of the dynamics of this class occurred just this week when they had the difficult task of selecting the class representative speaker. One might think that it was a difficult task because I had no volunteers or the volunteers couldn’t think of a thing to say or couldn’t speak well enough. No. None of that applies to this group.
Out of the ten students who knew they’d be attending graduation, I had five volunteers who, on the spot, came up with a word, supporting statements, and stood up to present their idea for their speech. Each individual volunteer gave me one word that symbolized the class and then tossed out ideas that supported their symbol. I wrote their words on the board under their names and this provided the rest of us with an inkling of the direction their presentation might take. What I found most fascinating about this activity was the fact that every single one of the statements that I wrote on the board was an idea that I was contemplating using in my own five-minute speech. It was quite a dilemma. Now I was either going to be accused of Plagiarism or favoritism if I were to select all or one of these examples.
So, please excuse me, 6th Grade, if I appear to steal your ideas, but trust me when I say how touched I was that we both felt the same way. Hardworking: this class took their role of Leaders of the Elementary School very seriously. Anything that needed to be done, any task asked by any teacher was immediately taken care of by this group. Their goal would be to see how efficiently they could do any task that was asked of them, whether it be setting up for lunch, taking down after all-school Mass, scraping ice off sidewalks, or carrying hymnals for music class. Just this past Monday, their hard working spirit impressed the staff at Serendipity Adult Day Care as the students raked, weeded, swept, planted, and watered for four hours. They laughed and enjoyed one another’s company unknowingly startling the Serendipity staff with their diligence, excellent attitudes, and thoroughness.
The Purple Rose and Supportive: I combine these two concepts because one built upon the other. The purple rosebud symbolizes their uncertain attempts at friendship that began the year. There were conflicts and clashes of personalities that required discussion, understanding, and patience. But as the year progressed, the bud opened up and the students grew to accept their differences and appreciate the gifts that each had to offer. Their friendships blossomed. Students made cards for one another when they suffered a long-term illness or lost a pet. They assisted one another in math, science concepts, or vocabulary. They comforted one another when life’s burdens became too great to bear. Our Winter Retreat allowed the students the opportunity to grow in an awareness of the needs that surrounded them in their fellow classmates. From that moment on, they became a united group, one class.
This supportiveness leads to their being considered a unit or military squad. The efficiency with which they could do a task did take on a military quality. Nowhere was this more evident than in their development of the Greek & Roman Festival skit. While in Tanzania, I learned that they skit we had prepared for this festival would not be acceptable. So with only five practices left, the class divided and conquered the task of writing a new script, setting up the actors/actresses, and determining what props would be needed. By the time I returned from Tanzania, all that was required of me was to provide some directing tips and with the help of Miss Mezzetti, all went well.
Another term that was suggested to describe this group was festive. Laughter often bounced around the classroom, giving the impression that students may not be on task, but not so. When their mouths were flapping, their minds were whirling with ideas. If they were building a puppet stage or carving cardboard boats or representing the United Nations, they were not doing so silently, I assure you, yet their discussions centered on the activity at hand. They were focused and trying to make it the best.
So, Mr. Hodgson and all Upper School students and faculty brace yourselves. This class is enthusiastic, energetic, focused, ready to get involved, loves to provide service for those in need, will get thoroughly engaged in philosophical discussions, and will most likely end up taking over the Upper School.
And to you, Sixth Grade, I say continue to look out for and take care of one another. Keep your beautiful and sincere faith in God and let that love for God shine through you to one another and to all that you encounter. Do not allow the cynicism or silence of others to diminish your enthusiasm or Joie de vie, your love of life. It is better to be less cool yet be fully engaged than it is to appear cool and wish you could be more engaged. Remember, alone you can accomplish a little, together you can do great things, but with God all things are possible. God bless you all.
8th Grade Class Speaker’s Address (Grace Ward):
There is a train coming at full speed down a track heading towards 100 people. There is a lever to switch the direction of the train, which would then head towards 10 people. If you had the ability to switch the direction of the train, would you?
On behalf of the 8th-grade class, I welcome you to the 6th and 8th-grade graduations. Thank you for joining us on this special occasion.
When the eighth graders were voting for a class speaker, I had a strange feeling it would be me. After everyone voted, I found out that I was right. I instantly felt nervous and did not want to write this speech. However, I appreciate my classmates and teachers for encouraging me to come up here today and pushing me out of my comfort zone. I have learned so many critical life skills from being a part of this class. One of them is how to speak in front of a group and another is to debate clear thoughts.
The opening question is an example of many moral dilemmas the 8th grade has discussed. We talked to many of our respected teachers, friends, classmates, and family members to try to reach a conclusion with the Catechism and scriptures also guiding us. Through all these debates, our class has tried to find the truth and learned that there are many times when the right answer is difficult to find and not always agreed upon. Our class has strived to find truth through the discussion of opposing opinions.
The teachers at Holy Rosary Academy have taught us how to think and convey our thoughts to others. Often, the teachers withheld their own opinions and gave objections to our arguments. We then found how to counter those ideas. Again and again, we were tested until we had clear thoughts along with solid and logical arguments to defend our views.
When we go off into high school, whether we realize it or not, we will continue to build off our middle school years in our education, friendships, experiences, life skills, and most importantly, our faith; which should constantly govern all our actions. Holy Rosary Academy has helped us build on all these areas of our lives in preparation to launch us into the next phase of our education.
I would like to thank the teachers, especially Mr. Hodgson, Ms. Morris, Mr. Klotz, Mrs. Furby, Mrs. Schirda and Mr. Welsh for guiding us in our debates and helping us develop more thorough arguments. You challenged us to think clearly, seek the truth, develop objections, and present persuasive discourse. I also would like to thank all the teachers that have taught this class any time during middle school and all the parents that have promoted our development in education, sports, and other activities. We appreciate everything you have done for us. Most importantly, we would like to thank Ms. Neumayr for all that she has done for our school. You will be greatly missed when you leave this summer. Finally, I wish to say thank you to every one of my fellow classmates for making this a memorable year; I look forward to continuing our journey together in high school.
I would like to end with a quote by Vince Lombardi that is a good piece of advice, especially for those who want to be successful in life. “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but a lack of will.” By the way, my class has not yet come to a consensus for the train scenario.
Thank you to the parent volunteers who helped set-up St. Dominic’s Hall: Mrs. Patton, Mr. Beaty, and Mrs. Reyes.