2012 Valedictory Address
Good evening Bishop Lynch, Academy administration, faculty, staff, family, and friends.
As a group, the Class of 2012 has accomplished so many things. I wholeheartedly know that these seventy-six young women sitting behind me comprise the most special group of people I have ever met. However, I venture to say that one of our biggest feats is, finally, after four years, learning the Alma Mater. I know, it’s an old joke by now, but then again, someone had to talk about it at graduation. Since I now know the words, I have realized that this piece perfectly sums up how special Academy is to both an outsider and an insider.
The first stanza reads, “You will find it on the Bayshore, the school that we love best. With its ivory walls so stately, and the cross, its beacon crest. Oh we love the soil that bears her, and the trees that round her grow. More glorious sight you’ll never behold, no matter where you go.”
Academy is the most beautiful school in Tampa. From our divine Chapel of Mother Marie Rose to our state-of-the-art sports complexes to the lovely Brady Center where we sit now to, above all, the majestic view of Tampa from the third-floor Bayshore balcony, my favorite part of this entire school, the Academy is absolutely stunning. And this is a fact to which, I believe, anyone in the Tampa Bay area can attest.
However, the thing that makes the Academy of the Holy Names so special is not its outwards aesthetics, but its people: the administration, which leads us to success; the faculty, which teaches us more than just lessons of books, but lessons of life; the Sisters of the Holy Names, who guide us in our everyday activities to follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ; the alumnae, who encourage the school to keep its traditions alive as it has done for the past 131 years; the parents, who give so much so that their daughters can attend the best school in the area; and of course, the students, who are the reason the Academy was founded. Each of these people help to establish in us the mission the Academy has as a Catholic school.
Of course, we learn the standard math, science, English, history, and language classes that any other American high school student would learn. However, we also learn about life itself and what we are called to do with our Academy education. We are called to be leaders of the world, givers of our time and talents, and followers of Christ. Since we are a Catholic school, we take our religion classes as a serious and essential part of the curriculum. The Academy religious education culminates with the two senior year classes, Christian Lifestyles and Social Justice. In Christian Life, the seniors learned how to live our lives under the guidance of Jesus and how to be the best person we can be. We found out what it means to love, to have faith, to be an Academy graduate, and most of all, to be a Christian. In Social Justice, the class of 2012 shed light on the various problems our world faces today. This may sound a little somber, but we also learned about people like Jean Donovan, Mahatma Gandhi, and Dorothy Day, who made a lot of progress in solving these problems. These lessons inspire us to go out into the world and address its concerns, fulfilling our mission as Christians.
The groups I mentioned before, the administration, faculty, Sisters, alumnae, parents, and students, stand behind us in this mission and compose the uniqueness of the Academy, something that only an insider, a person acquainted with this school, would know.
In our four years here, this graduating class of 2012 has earned its way to the status of insiders, has gained knowledge of the meaning behind the words of the second and final stanza of the Alma Mater: “We are proud to boast her teachings, her glory and success. We will always stand behind her, ‘tis the road to happiness. We will honor and defend her as down the years we roam. So stand and cheer, Academy, our Alma Mater home.” These words remind us of our pride in Academy, a sentiment that has accumulated with every passing year we have been on this campus.
As we depart from these beloved grounds for the final time, we leave with the knowledge that each of us has left our own mark upon the school, adding the unique flair of the Class of 2012 and bettering it for future classes. But, even more than that, as we each take our own individual paths away from this place, we all will take a part of the school with us, because not only is Academy our alma mater, but it is our home.