Skip to content

Press Forward: Celebrating the Class of 2021

The extraordinary 2020-21 school year comes to a close for our schools this week. What can we possibly say about all that this year has meant? Answering that question is yet one more task that our principals and some of our students took on. In the nine Partnership graduation ceremonies, they reflected deeply. So on this last day of the last week of a school year unlike any other, we share just a little from these individuals we are so privileged to work with, and for.


We believe that we can do hard things. Your students have proven that to be true each and every day this year. —Rachael Dengler, Principal, St. Thomas Aquinas

Students at Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary assemble for graduation.

The best view comes from the hardest climb.

This past year, I imagined myself imprisoned in a tower awaiting the arrival of a prince charming. I soon discovered that there was no “prince charming” and I did not have flowing hair; instead I had a Chromebook and a lot of Zoom classes to attend.

As a class, we have endured a hard time, but we were together through it all. Over the past year, teachers kept us motivated, parents reminded us that God is with us, and classmates kept our spirits alive through laughter and hope. This year taught us that we are better together.  —Hilary Condal, Valedictorian, Immaculate Conception

Immaculate Conception Valedictorian Hillary Condal.

You may see me struggle,

but you won’t see me fall.

Regardless if I’m weak or not,

I’m going to stand tall.—by poet Joyce Alcantara, chosen and read by the Sacred Heart Class of 2021

A student reader from Sacred Heart.

This year, we looked beyond ourselves as individuals and came together as a community and created a remarkable year. We were all in this together. We worked together, supported each other, and took care of each other. This made all the difference in the world… Pope Francis wrote beautifully on this phenomenon:Rivers do not drink their own water; trees do not eat their own fruit; the sun does not shine on itself and flowers do not spread their fragrance for themselves…Life is good when you are happy; but much better when others are happy because of you.” —Dominic Fanelli, Principal, St. Mark the Evangelist

St. Charles Borromeo graduates.

We are better together. Your students have heard this statement every morning on the announcements, and you read this in my weekly emails, and each day we see it in action. Your support and strength through this year has made all that we’ve accomplished possible. —Rachael Dengler, Principal, St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas students help each other before graduation.

Our patron, St Athanasius, said that Jesus became who we are so that we can become who he is. In other words, God became man so that we could have a living example of how He wants us to live our earthly lives, so that we can enjoy our heavenly lives with him.

Now that you’re off to your next adventure, it is on you to remind yourself of that every single day…And I hope you do! As long as you remember that you are a child of God put here on Earth to serve others, you will be happy in your life and in your heart. –Jessica Aybar, Principal, St. Athanasius

Graduation at Our Lady Queen of Angels.

Above all, this diploma represents the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who has been with you since the moment God imagined you into being and who will continue to be with you every moment of your lives. As you continue to meet life’s challenges, let God guide you and teach you the way you should go. And know that our prayers go with you. —Nancy Lynch, Principal, Archbishop Lyke

Sacred Heart graduation.

Last Spring, in the height of the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, Senator John Lewis wrote an opinion essay about his journey. His words, just days before he died, ring true for endings and beginnings, and I want to close and share them with you. John Lewis wrote: “People on every continent have stood in your shoes, through decades and centuries before you. Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.” —Our Lady Queen of Angels Principal Elizabeth Nuzzolese

Sacred Heart Class of 2021 celebrates.

Now Press Forward and Fear Nothing -as  St. Katharine Drexel would have you do. —Dom Fanelli, Principal, St. Mark the Evangelist

Congratulations, Partnership Class of 2021. May God bless each of you.