|Trenton Catholic Academy Upper School graduates process into St. Anthony Church May 31 for the celebration of the Baccalaureate Mass and commencement exercises that followed. Joe Moore photos|
|Sister of St. Joseph Dorothy Payne, president of Trenton Catholic Academy, center, receives a pictorial gift from two graduating seniors.|
|Chiebuka Okpara Valedictory Speech|
Good Evening: Monsignor Gervazēō, Mrs. Tier, Fr. Jean, Sister Dorothy, Mr. Kroekel, faculty, family, alumni, friends, and fellow graduates.
To the Class of 2017…WE DID IT! We have eagerly anticipated this day since we were freshmen. We finally completed four memorable years at Trenton Catholic Academy. For each of us they were sometimes long, funny, memorable, sad, and enlightening. For all of us they will become cherished and precious memories.
Remember the first day of Freshman year? All of us were nervous and excited to begin a new experience. We were teenagers talking to one another trying to make friends. Throughout these four years we have made a lasting bond and have many wonderful memories from our time together these past 4 years.
Do you remember when Elante released his first hit single "Lante/Pole” or when JMS© started making music from our very own lunch tables? I still can’t believe that Mrs. Preston personally danced for us on our birthdays. I’m still find myself shaking when I think about the time Miss Faraglia flipped our papers at us because we ignored the rules of proper citations. And who will forget the water balloon fight on the last day of classes? But my favorite memory is that constant reminder from everyone that I have a prison body. There are so many more moments, but I’m pretty sure all of you in the class of 2017 would just “Plead the Fifth”.
Our time at TCA would not be complete without mentioning the faculty, staff, and coaches. Despite what we might think, the students owe it to the faculty and staff for giving us an education, to our coaches for giving us a hard workout to prepare for the championships, and to all for making us smile and laugh when we felt miserable. I personally want to thank Miss Tracey for feeding us when our stomachs were empty. Class, we’re ready for the world; thanks to our teachers we can do anything. We can take on endless tasks thanks to Mrs. Kruegel’s bombardment of Google Classroom assignments. We learned how to “work independently” whenever we were in Mr. Termini’s classroom. We gained the virtue of patience whenever we were in Mrs. Stilts math/science classes. We learned how to “play the game” from Mr. Riotto.
My time at TCA has been a precious one. Some of you might know, I have been at this school since I was in first grade; I grew up here so it’s really hard for me to say goodbye. I made so many memories and met so many incredible people that I feel like I have a second family; I feel truly blessed. Now I need to accept the fact that this experience is over. But it doesn’t have to be over. Deep down, inside each one of us is a piece of TCA. Each of you has made TCA what it is, whether you were a member of the soccer team, step team, track team, cheerleading squad, choir, service, or just a member of the student body, YOU made TCA; We all secretly love this place, but we’re afraid to admit it; but, now it is our time to go forth and apply what we have learned--- the good and the bad--- in all our future endeavors. We should relive our greatest moments and create even better ones. Go forth!
As Valedictorian, Senior class president, and your friend, I want to state: Be true to yourself and stay connected with the people who care about you. Everyone in this church is family. By the grace of God, we are a caring family who looks after one another. We shouldn’t act like strangers and pretend these four years never happened. Just because high school is over doesn’t mean our relationship ends. So Class of 2017, remember my message: stay close to your friends, your family, and your neighbors and never forget our blessed memories here at Trenton Catholic Academy.
By Rose O’Connor | Correspondent
The word family seemed to personify the graduating class of Trenton Catholic Academy as the Hamilton school students gathered together one last time.
“This class has really come together and is so focused on teamwork and service,” TCA senior class guidance counselor Lisa Ford said. “They are truly a family.”
Photo gallery from Trenton Catholic Academy's Baccalaureate Mass and Graduation
The 59 graduates and their families gathered in St. Anthony Church, Hamilton, for a Baccalaureate Mass and commencement exercises May 31, the Feast of the Visitation.
Mass was celebrated by Msgr. Thomas N. Gervasio, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton, and vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Diocese of Trenton. He reflected of the Visitation and encouraged the graduates to be confident and courageous in life. He also referred to Pope Francis in his homily when he said, “remain steadfast in the journey of faith, with firm hope in the Lord.”
Many in the Class of 2017 began their journey together as first-grade students in TCA’s Lower School, when it opened its doors in 2005 following the consolidation of Trenton’s elementary schools. One of those students, valedictorian Chiebuka Okpara, spoke to this fact.
“I have been at this school since I was in first grade; I grew up here, so it’s really hard for me to say goodbye,” Okpara said in his commencement speech. “I made so many memories and met so many incredible people that I feel like I have a second family; I feel truly blessed. Now I need to accept the fact that this experience is over. But it doesn’t have to be over. Deep down, inside each one of us is a piece of TCA.”
He encouraged the graduates to keep in touch with each other despite heading to different colleges throughout the country. Okpara plans to study biomedical engineering at The College of New Jersey, Ewing.
Salutatorian Nasir Dowling, also a graduate of the Lower School, echoed Okpara’s sentiments.
“We should continue to keep in contact and believe that in our senior year, we truly embodied the status of the best class at TCA. … We came together and did things as a unit. I ask all the graduates to look at the person next to you because that person became your brother or sister this year,” said Dowling, who is going on to study business/accounting in Villanova University, Villanova, Pa.
In her remarks, JoAnn Tier, diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools, also spoke to the treasure of family, saying, “These graduates have been recognized as people to invest in. They have been awarded $3.6 million in college scholarships and grants. You will receive your diploma tonight, tangible evidence of your merits and achievements.”
“Msgr. McCorristin, the original Iron Mike, knew the value of an education, and more specifically, of a Catholic school education,” she said of the school’s founder. “He was singularly committed to guiding students to become faith-filled responsible leaders.”
“He built the school you call home, and his memory continues to leave an imprint of sacrifice and hope for future generations,” she continued.
Leaving that imprint on future generations is what Trenton Catholic Academy is all about, said Sister of St. Joseph Dorothy Payne, TCA president.
“We exist for systemic change,” Sister Dorothy said. “The graduates are now a part of an important group, an even larger family – the Iron Mike alumni – and that holds a great responsibility. I know this class will continue to serve others and members of the community in the future.”