‘Amazing’ St. Ray’s Class of 2019 urged to be agents of good

‘Amazing’ St. Ray’s Class of 2019 urged to be agents of good

Alivia Diaz, 18, of Pawtucket, has a last minute cap adjustment for Hernes Ferrer, 18, of Cranston, before the start of the Saint Raphael Academy graduation ceremony, held at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence on Sunday. (Breeze photos by Bill Murphy)

PAWTUCKET – One of the most accomplished classes in St. Raphael Academy’s history will change the world if it lives by its senior year campaign of “Living the Golden Rule,” said Principal Daniel Richard at Sunday’s graduation ceremonies at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence.

Some 122 graduates from the private Pawtucket Catholic school walked the stage at the 91st commencement exercises, celebrating what Richard called an “amazing” series of accomplishments over their four years.

These students enraptured audiences on the stage, scored huge wins in athletics, gave freely of their time, talent and treasure, and performed so well academically that they’re going to some of the best colleges in the country, said Richard.

Above other qualities, these students learned to treat others the way they want to be treated.

“As graduates of this academy, you should be defined by how you interact with all people,” he said. “If you paid attention, it was on display at our school.”

These students treated others with dignity and respect, they embraced each other’s differences, and they became better people, he said.

“Acts of kindness are frequent occurrences at the academy,” he said. “Today I am urging you to be more than just a person of good character; I am requesting that you become agents of good in our world.”

Life is never about the big moment or speech, he said, but about doing the small acts of service and love beyond what’s expected.

Valedictorian Theresa Wagner highlighted the need for community and importance of interdependence. She emphasized the importance of packing the right items for the journey of life, using the student backpack as an illustration.

“The journey that awaits us will be an arduous one if we do not relieve ourselves of the doubt and fear that weigh us down,” she said. “By emptying our backpack of the burdens that hinder our progress, we leave room for the values that will facilitate it.”

“We need to pack courage. As graduates merely scraping the surface of adulthood, we have limitless potential. It is up to us alone to fulfill it, but this is not a simple task. It requires bravery to reject the comfort of complacency and to strive to achieve our own unprecedented greatness.”

These students also need to pack resilience, support for others, fortitude and faith, she said.

Salutatorian Jillian Hughes said the years at St. Ray’s have influenced each student, down to each detail of daily life.

“Everything influences each of us,” she said after detailing each aspect of campus life.

St. Ray’s is characterized by its people, she said.

“Within our shared experience, the distinctly unique experience we each take with us has shaped us into who we are, as individuals and as the Class of 2019,” she said. “You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot – here at St. Raphael Academy.”

Judith Baxter, vice principal of academics, quoted Pope Francis in speaking of life as a pilgrimage. Each student’s journey will allow them to explore and discover their own horizon, she said. They will begin to comprehend how their Lasallian education guided them to their destinies, whether it be moral, spiritual or educational.

Students need to be willing to embrace their quest and put in the hard work to achieve their goals, said Baxter.

“A pilgrimage is not meant to be easy, it is meant to challenge you and your beliefs,” she said. “Its purpose is for exploration and discovery, and that’s exactly what you will be doing as you venture out into the world away from St. Raphael Academy, which has been your home, protector and haven for the past four years.”

Defeats, as Maya Angelou said, only strengthen one’s ability to overcome, said Baxter.

This class is special in so many ways, she said.

Taylor Troiano smiles as she heads back to her seat after receiving her diploma at the St. Raphael Academy graduation ceremony. Behind Taylor are, from left, Academy Principal Daniel Richard, The Most Rev. Robert Evans, auxiliary bishop of Providence, and Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Providence Daniel Ferris.
Theresa Wagner, of Pawtucket, valedictorian for Saint Raphael Academy’s Class of 2019, delivers her address at the graduation ceremony.
Gabriela Castaneda-Pineda, right, shares a laugh with Daniel Ferris, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Providence, center, and Daniel Richard, principal of St. Raphael Academy, as she receives her diploma.