CHARLESTON – “Make a difference,” Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone urged the 209 graduates at Bishop England High School’s commencement ceremony on May 29.
“Take what you have received and make a difference,” Bishop Guglielmone said. “The world will be a better place because you have passed through it.South Carolina’s Catholic bishop spoke briefly to the graduates, their families and friends, and faculty and staff members at Jack Canty Stadium on Daniel Island.
He encouraged the senior class to follow what Jesus taught in the Lord’s Prayer, by telling them “you and I are called to make that kingdom come.”
The high school commencement was the first for Bishop Guglielmone since his ordination in March. After the event, he remarked on the atmosphere at Bishop England on this warm, sunny day.
“I liked the spirit of the day,” he said. “And I am very thankful for the breeze.”
Sister Julia Hutchison, SND, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Charleston, offered the invocation, praying that God would bless the students and continue to form them to be persons of the Gospel.
As the students’ names were read aloud, each graduate crossed the stage to receive a diploma and shake hands with their bishop. The dignified and festive atmosphere of the ceremony was punctuated by an occasional blast from an air-horn, a whistle, or remarks that drew laughter from the crowd that filled the home stands.
David Held, principal, estimated some 2,500 people attended the 11th ceremony at the Daniel Island campus. It is the 92nd annual commencement for the school, which was originally located in peninsular Charleston.
Held touted the achievements of the class of 2009, including state championships in cross-country, volleyball, tennis, soccer, track and baseball. They also had one National Hispanic Scholar, three National Merit finalists, and nine National Merit commended scholars.
Sallie Tompkins, the school guidance director, said the senior class was awarded more than $7 million in scholarships, not including state lottery funds.
Several students were recognized during graduation, including Amy Wigger, the valedictorian, and Lindsay Warren, the salutatorian, who both gave speeches.
Warren recalled how the class of 2009 entered Bishop England as a group of wide-eyed, bewildered freshmen, and now she saw a group of “mature individuals eager to try their own strength.”
Wigger promised to keep her speech short and witty, and she succeeded by poking fun at YouTube lessons, spirit week, paper chain competitions and the size of pick-up trucks in the parking lot.
She thanked the families, faculty and staff for their encouragement, saying the school community was like a family. She challenged graduates to serve, saying they all had something to offer the world whether it is their involvement in an organization, passion for a cause, or love for a person.
She concluded her address with an original rap: “All of you out there decked out in green, the best looking class I’ve ever seen. Move your tassel to the side. Represent ’09!”
Eleven other students were nominated by the faculty for the Rectors’ Awards, and their classmates selected the winners, whose names remained confidential until graduation.
The O’Brien Ring was presented to John Anthony Pasierbowicz II, and the Manning Ring to Jacqueline Amelia Franz for exemplary conduct, personal reputation, personality, disposition, respect for authority, devotion to duty and respons ibility.
The Croghan Esprit de Corps Cup was presented to Elizabeth Suzanne Teagle for her willingness to help, organizational ability and school spirit.
The Kelly Leadership Award was given to Christian Gerard Anthony Gaeta for his outstanding leadership, enthu si asm and good citizenship.
David Michael Finlen, the senior class president, served as master of ceremonies and also presented the class gift: a check from class fundraisers for the Angel Touch organization, and a brick in honor of the 2009 seniors to be placed in the campus’ outer courtyard.
Two members of the class who died prior to graduation were memorialized during Held’s speech and in the graduation program. Adela Holmes Cook died in April from injuries sustained in an accident, and Mary Catherine Marquardt died in March 2007 after battling a terminal illness.
“They were a sweet class, a tight-knit group,” said Nancy Heath, academic dean.
The graduates from Bishop England are among the 350 from the four Catholic high schools in the diocese.