St. Ray’s grads urged to focus on compassion, character

St. Ray’s grads urged to focus on compassion, character

Huascar Beato waves to someone in the crowd after getting his diploma at the Saint Raphael Academy graduation. The ceremony was held at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence, last Saturday. (Breeze photos by Bill Murphy)

PAWTUCKET – Members of the Class of 2018 at St. Raphael Academy will attend many of the finest colleges in the country, their SAT scores setting the mark for all future classes. Athletically, they saw nearly every team make it to the postseason. As thespians, they set the standard for Rhode Island by earning another state championship.

But most importantly, said SRA Principal Daniel Richard at last Saturday’s graduation at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence, these students lived out the mission of the academy, giving freely of their “time, talent and treasure to those who were in need.”

And though the in-school accomplishments of this 91st class at St. Ray’s were noteworthy, it will be how they use their skills and talents to shape and mold the world that will define them, said Richard. These students proved that they’re up to the task, showing kindness and treating others with dignity and respect throughout their four years.

He said the words of Robert F. Kennedy ring true today, that “each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope ...”

“We need you to go out and show the world that compassion and kindness should be embraced by all people,” he said. Collaboration and cooperation are positive traits, concepts that are foreign to many people in today’s society, he added. Living a life of dignity and civility should be the norm in society.

The 86 members of the Class of 2018 earned a combined $12 million in scholarships over four years.

Judy Baxter, vice principal of academics at St. Ray’s, used the words of Dr. Seuss to encourage students to use their brains for good even more than they’ve done to this point.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go,” read the quote.

“So now it’s time for you to put those brains to work even more so than you have done during your years at Saints,” said Baxter. “The brains in your head give your body the directions. It needs to take you where you want to go ...”

Valedictorian Bryce Gillis shared about his multiple failed attempts to scale Mount Nebo, saying if he convinces himself that he can’t get to the top, then he never will.

“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?” he said. “The highest of mountains are meant to be climbed.”

Henry Ford exemplified the perseverance each student should strive for, he said, persevering through failures.

Salutatorian Oluwatoyin Okele said the future is about getting a job and becoming meaningful contributors in society. In books and media, characters are judged by two main things: how complex they area and whether they develop throughout the story, she said.

“As human beings, we are already pretty complex creatures so we don’t need to worry about that. So, our main concern is character development,” she said. “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?’ ”

From left, Paula Daigle, 18, of Woonsocket, Ruby Costello, 18, of Rumford, and Kaylee Contreras, 17, of Pawtucket, jump for joy before the start of the Saint Raphael Academy graduation.
Sky Carrion, right, receives her diploma from Auxiliary Bishop of Providence the Most Rev. Robert Evans, left, and Principal Daniel Richard.
Jennifer Sullivan, 17, right, of North Providence, gets a hug from Benjamin Bradley, 17, of Cranston, before the start of the Saint Raphael Academy graduation.