A warm Sunday afternoon in downtown Cleveland set the scene for commencement exercises for the Saint Ignatius High School Class of 2018. The Saint Ignatius band delivered another excellent performance of pre-graduation songs until, at long last, "Pomp and Circumstance" came upon them and the curtain at Cleveland Public Auditorium opened to tumultuous applause.
May 27, 2018, would mark the end of one journey and the beginning of another as the young men seated on stage received their diplomas from President Fr. Ray Guiao, S.J. '82, Principal Dan Bradesca '88 and Chair of the Board of Regents Bill Koehler '83.
In addition to remarks from Fr. Guiao and Mr. Bradesca, two seniors offered their own thoughts on the occasion.
Joey Spirnak received the honor of Valedictorian and offered the insider's view to the Saint Ignatius experience.
"The outsider has never seen Gavin Hearns or Oscar Barillas share their time, often entire afternoons, with local Arrupe children. Also unseen have been classmates like Mike Nickerson and Anthony Delsanter spending their Sunday nights feeding the homeless on the streets of Cleveland," he said.
"Yes, they may have heard of “Men for Others”, but they don’t fully understand how this occurs on a day to day basis at Ignatius. And there is no banner in a hallway publicizing its virtue."
This year's Student Senate President Nathan Abdelnour was the Salutatorian, and spoke about how his classmates have grown to live out the five components of the Graduate-at-Graduation: religious, loving, open to growth, intellectually competent and committed to work for peace and justice.
"Whether it's receiving a 100 percent on a physics test, or winning a game out on the field, or serving the homeless out on the streets of Cleveland, there is no better moment than the one you are living now--this moment when all 361 brothers of mine are about to go forth and set the world on fire," Abdelnour said.
He also offered thanks to the many people who helped this class along their journey.
"Thank you to the faculty and staff for being the main catalysts in the growth of us students through projects, presentations, and practices. Thank you to our friends and families for putting up with the long nights of work and always supporting us, whether times are easy or hard. Most importantly thank you to God for bringing us all together in this final, joyous moment of our high school careers. Without these special gifts in our lives we would not have been able to do it."
Additionally, several seniors received special honors and awards that are presented annually at commencement.
Jeffrey Outcalt received the Brendan Carey Award, given to the senior who best exemplifies the Saint Ignatius motto "Men for Others," as voted on by the senior class. Abdelnour and Tobias Engel were co-recipients of the Conor J. Murphy '98 Bellringer Award. The Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J. Award for the students with the highest GPA after seven semesters was presented to Richie Hofstra and Beck Saine.
Then came the distribution of diplomas, which recalled fathers and grandfathers (and even great-grandfathers) who may have preceded today's graduates.
At long last, the road on which this group was traveling together ended--splitting off into a myriad unique pathways for college and beyond.
As they sang the words of the alma mater once more together, the faculty and staff would be reminded of the words of retiring English and Fine Arts colleague Rich Fujimoto '66: "When we sing that last line of the alma mater, 'We're Ignatius Men for Ever,' we mean it. It's a declaration--and a promise."
Congratulations, Class of 2018!