The rain had cleared the air, and the evening was perfect. Lights twinkled across the bay from the Tampa skyline. With a final toss of their hats on the front lawn, 70 Academy graduates observed the final tradition in an event-packed series leading toward graduation on Tuesday, May 21, at 7 pm.
On hand to record the event was The Tampa Bay Times reporter Amanda Starling who noted that the best advice for the evening came from Academy President Mr. Art Raimo. “Take what you know is right in your head and what you feel is right in your heart and put it into practice through the use of your hands.”
While family and friends of the graduates waited patiently in the Brady Center to the tunes of a string quartet, the senior class took a few moments to reflect and pray in the Blessed Marie Rose Durocher Chapel. Sister Mary Patricia Plumb SNJM reminded the girls of the historic significance of the moment. “So many of you have shared quiet moments here, many of you as young as kindergarten. Whether you came here then or came as ninth graders, the chapel will be the quiet place in your hearts, as it has always been for those who came before you. ”
Following the invocation by Grace Spurgin and Victoria Litschgi, class vice-presidents, Mr. Raimo welcomed families and guests, including the honor guest of the evening, the Most Reverend Bishop Robert N. Lynch. Prior to conferring of diplomas, Arlyn Barlaan delivered the salutatorian address. Bishop Lynch congratulated each graduate as he distributed diplomas and posed for individual photos. In keeping with Academy tradition, first-graders Laura Collins, Regan Hernandez, Emily McClelland, Giada Perotti, Madison Ratchford, and Nina Wolff presented each graduate with a bouquet of red roses.
Following diplomas, Meagan Gonzalez presented the valedictorian address. Bishop Lynch’s closing remarks focused on the “new era of the Church that followed the white smoke we all waited for.” Bishop Lynch observed that Pope Francis I won’t make any major changes in the Church but will begin a new direction and care for the poor.”
Anna Cevallos and Alexandra Diaz, class vice presidents, gave the benediction, followed by the processional of graduates to the front lawn to the applause of families, friends and faculty.