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Class of 2017 looks to the future

Daniel Scrivener '18, News Editor

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On May 21, 2017, the courts of McNeice Pavilion acquired new meaning for a group of 303 students who had first entered the arena four years ago with excitement and anticipation. In-deed, this place became the site of unprecedented change in their lives as they processed through a sea of folding chairs and smiling parents in order to receive an affirmation of their tremendous accomplishment. It was an occasion at which past and future were celebrated simultaneously in a display of confidence and hope for a new class of graduates. The 153rd Commencement Exercises of BC High demonstrated the capabilities and values of the denizens of our school and served as a reminder for our purpose as an institution.

Reverend Brian Conley, SJ began the eventful day with an invocation. Shortly afterward, Mr. Charles Drane presented our current president of the Student Council, Colin Carroll ’17, to deliver a welcome address. In Colin’s salutatory, he indicated his fondness toward the many memories he and his classmates have forged at BC High, recounting ordinary and profound experiences alike to provide context for our school’s unique atmosphere. At the same time, Colin made sure to remember the struggles of his classmates and the successes that allowed them to thrive at BC High. Thanking all those who have helped the seniors along their journeys, Colin ended the speech with gratitude for his experiences and those of his classmates.

Colin was followed by President William Kemeza, who delivered an address to this year’s Golden Jubilarians, or members of the Class of 1967. President Kemeza spoke with a broad perspective, demonstrating the enduring Jesuit mission in relation to time periods from Ignatius’ years to the present day. In his words, the world has always been “burning” at various times, and thus followers of the Society of Jesus have been called to combat injustice in its changing forms. President Kemeza thanked the Class of 1967 for their efforts, but reminded them that the problems of their time manifest today, signifying that their work is never quite finished.

Directing attention once more to the Class of 2017, Mr. Drane introduced the principal speaker of the occasion, Mr. Patrick Downes ’01. Identifying himself as an unconventional graduate speaker, Mr. Downes began with a lighthearted recollection of his days as the official 3rd base coach. Though seemingly a typical student at BC High, Mr. Downes demonstrated through his words the profound impact that BC High had on his life, and elaborated on a sense of companionship that aided him in his future. He spoke of his harrowing experience at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon but also of the communal support following that event, thanking all those who sent him and his wife letters of appreciation from JUG. Mr. Downes’ primary message to the graduates was that regardless of their professional aspirations and accomplishments, they should embrace the central messages of BC High regarding the formation of character. As Mr.

Downes put it, “You’re only as strong as the person next to you. We’re only as strong as the people behind us and in front of us.”

Principal Stephen Hughes ’73 then presented the Class of 2017 in his own terms, having presided over their experiences for the past four years. As one might expect, Principal Hughes exalted the accomplishments of the seniors at length but subsequently noted that these awards and accolades are not ends in themselves; the efforts and experiences of the Class of 2017 are more valuable. Principal Hughes indicated that the growth accompanying accomplishment at BC High is not external, but internal, given that our school’s mission focuses on the development of individual traits of character. The seniors were reminded of the ways in which they have progressed toward the ideals of BC High and also of the ways they are expected to apply these ideals in the broader world. Mr. Hughes suggested that graduates should attempt to enact positive changes in any field they enter and become “saints” in a general sense.

Nicholas Sommer ’17 was asked to deliver the senior address. With a sense of pride, Nicholas described the positive changes the Class of 2017 has brought to BC High, in areas spanning athletics to competitions to open dialogue. Nicholas then attempted to tackle a daunting question: what does it mean to be an alumnus of BC High? He broached the subject by sharing his significant experience at the wake of BC High teacher Ms. Sheila Becker-Gailius, at which her son Jeffrey Gailius ’15 demonstrated the compassion of the BC High community. Further-more, Nicholas spoke of his experience in a disadvantaged elementary school in Louisiana. During his time with underserved children, Nicholas indicates that “Our duty was not to do, but to be, and we were expected to take what we learned and live it out in own lives.” Through his re-flections on the ministry of presence, Nicholas eventually concluded that an important aspect of BC High education is being available to others; his anecdotes indicate that concern for all people promotes personal growth and provides invaluable tools for understanding life. Reverend Ron Perry, SJ was last to take the stage as he delivered the benediction for the new graduates, after which the Class of 2017 processed to the front lawn for pictures and cigars.

Dr. Matthew Finnegan and Dr. Marina Rozenberg contributed to the success of the event by directing performances of the BC High Concert Band and Concert Choir. Additionally, the outpour of students, family, teachers, and faculty attending the event attested to its significance and provided a welcoming atmosphere for the graduates. The Eagle congratulates the Class of 2017 and wishes them luck in the future—already, the school is quite different without their presence.

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Class of 2017 looks to the future