Counterclockwise from top: Lillian Quinn reaches out to students after being honored at graduation; salutatorian Katherine Nugai; celebrating after the ceremony; valedictorian Timothy Wiles. More photos here.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The class of 2014 at St. Joseph's High School had one extra graduate this year.
Retiring Academic Dean Lillian Quinn was presented with an honorary degree for her more than 40 years of service at the high school, including 32 teaching English and stepping in as interim principal until last fall.
"I'm so humbled and so blessed," Quinn said as the St. Joseph's community gave her a standing ovation.
Quinn was the "heart of St. Joseph's itself," said graduating senior Michael Garrity from the podium.
"We've had Mrs. Quinn to help us, guide us and, certainly, to enlighten us," he said, adding that she was the "saint in our midst" who had encouraged and inspired them to become the young adults who would soon be leaving her care.
Classmate Tyler Ellsworth described her in a poem as a mother robin watching over her brood, who lets them fly with smiles and tears in her eyes: "My job is done."
The 34 graduates of 2014 had entered together in 2009 from different schools and would spend four years together making new friends, meeting new teachers and learning how to adapt.
"We had no idea what to expect but we dove in head first," said salutatorian Katherine Nugai. "From then on, change was no stranger ... we adjusted to the changes and used them to excel."
The invisible force that is change pushed them out of their comfort zones, she said, and pushed them to excel.
"Now as we look toward our futures we know we can confidently face any changes that come our way," Nugai said.
The Rev. James K. Boyce, of the board of trustees, recalled his own graduation from St. Joe some 50 years ago as he presented the graduates; Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell and Principal Amy Gelinas awarded the diplomas. Gelinas also gave the opening prayer and the chorus sang "Defying Gravity."
Valedictorian Timothy Wiles held up his orange "St. Joseph Crusaders" shirt before tossing it to a classmate.
They won't be wearing the orange anymore, he said, but the shirt itself really symbolizes something greater — the values that St. Joseph's instills in its students that sets them apart from other schools.
The class will go on to where different uniforms in the future as they embark upon their careers but the qualities that the St. Joe coat represents, "dedication in faith, passion to achieve excellence, the commitment to service the community," won't be changed.
"You continue to wear what you learned at St. Joe," said Wiles.
McDonnell sent them off with a lesson from Pope John 23, who was canonized in April. The pope worked very late at night but tiring, would turn to the crucifix in his office and say, "It's your church, I'm going to bed," said the bishop.
"He knew he'd done his best and the church was in God's hands," McDonnell said. He also frequently quoted from the Gospels, "Be not afraid."
The bishop urged to the class to take three things from Pope John 23's words: Do your best, put everything in God's hands and don't be afraid.
Follow those words, he said, and "you will live up to what you have learned here at St. Joe's and be proud graduates of these great school."
Aileen James Archambault **♦
Amy Lynn Castellani ***♦
Shaodi Edison Chen *♦
Yudu Emily Du
Tyler Michael Ellsworth *
Benjamin Pio Forbes *♦
Jingyao Gao ***♦
Michael Charles Morin Garrity ***♦
Michael George Goddeau
Yoonjae Gyae *
Jong Won Hong *♦
Hwiyeong Annie Jeong *♦
Devon Matthew Johnston
Timothy Liam Jones ***♦
Patrick James Kline *♦
Andre'a Jewel Krahforst-Lang *♦
Danielle Elizabeth Lapierre *♦
Patrick William Latini
Yutang Emily Liu ***♦
Zhengke Suzy Liu
Ralph Charles Nettleton
Katherine Alice Nugai ***♦
Wyatt Chandler Porter
Anna Marguerite Prescott
Roma Lillianna Sabino *
Abigail Logan Saunders *
Meghan Elizabeth Scarpitto
Reagan Terry Smith
Samuel Aaron Thomason
Patrick Scott Vander Vennet *♦
Timothy Kenneth Wiles ***♦
Brendan Joseph Wincek
Tian Edison Yan
*** highest honors (92+); ** high honors (90-91); * honors (85-89); ♦ National Honor Society
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