Thomas James Jillions
Good evening everybody and welcome again to the 57th graduation ceremonies at Holy Cross. Today we welcome the superintendent of schools Mrs. Joanne Tier, the pastors of Burlington County, our principal Mr. Dennis Guida, our associate principal Mr. Robert Dimedio, faculty, friends and family, the Class of 1967, and of course the distinguished graduates of 2017. First and foremost I ask you to give a round of applause for not only yourselves, but also for all of those people in the crowd that have supported us for the last 4 years.
Every year at Holy Cross the valedictorian is tasked with writing a speech about “the future”. For four years each of us has talked about the future as if it were a distant problem never to be dealt with, and yet here we are nearly crossing the threshold into the rest of our lives. Everything from friendships that will last a lifetime, to grievances eventually bringing people closer, to shared tests from the semester before - our class has come together and today we ALL graduate.
Each of us has been given the tools to succeed and now it is our turn to lead by example and set the precedent for those around us. How we conduct ourselves in the coming years will echo through eternity and stay with us till the end of time. With this potential greatness knocking on our doorstep, we must also understand there is inevitable struggle. For the remainder of our lives confrontation will seek us out and we must be prepared to attack it head on. The character of man is not judged by how he acts in times of good fortune, but rather how he deals with adversity. In times of hardship we will be presented with a set of options leading us down a path of darkness or of light.
Because of lessons we've learned both in and out of the classroom these last four years, each of us is more qualified to make the right decision than the last. Even though many of you in this crowd might disagree, every moment in these frigid cold or scorching hot halls has prepared us more and more for the future. From the independence learned from a teacher a student can't connect with, to the social skills gained by talking during flex, Holy Cross has set us up to be the best version of ourselves we can be. With this mindset of success and a willingness to inspire - we can carry out lives worth telling our children about, and lives that would make our parents proud.
Holy Cross Class of 2017, I wish to leave you with just a few finals statements. I advise you to chase this success, YOUR success, wholeheartedly, but not to be discouraged if you fail. In a generation where mediocrity is often accepted as the norm I urge every one of you to look past this fad and learn from each failure until you eventually succeed. Understand that thanks to lessons learned here, there is an incredible greatness locked inside of each and every one of you. Graduates, today is the day we unlock this greatness.
Logan Tyler Napoli
Good evening to all of my fellow graduates and their families. I would like to begin by welcoming the Pastors of Burlington County, the Superintendent of Catholic Schools Mrs. Joanne Tier, Principal Dennis Guida, Associate Principal Robert DiMedio, Members of the Board of Trustees, faculty, parents, family, friends, the Class of 1967 and of course my fellow graduates. I know this speech is directed mostly towards my classmates, but I think we can all agree that none of us would be here without the support of all the people that came to cheer us on today, so I wanted to take a quick moment to recognize them. My job today is to talk about the future, but first I think we need to recognize the fact that this Holy Cross Academy Class of 2017 is officially the smartest and best looking graduating class to ever come out of a high school, ever. And I want to congratulate the Class of 2017 on not only graduating from high school, but graduating from a high school with no air conditioning, it is not easy.
Okay, so let us get back to the future. I can not think of a way to talk about the future without being firmly rooted in the present and being able to learn and grow from the past. It is pretty crazy to think that we came in here as 14-15 year olds with no idea what our futures held, and now look at us, we’re declaring majors, finding roommates, and moving out of our houses. I could have never imagined all of us sitting here today, heck, two months ago I was worried I wasn’t going to make it here! But watching the senior video the other day was giving me all sorts of deja vu. Seeing how much we have all grown was incredible. I mean, my co-valedictorian Tommy Jillions looked like he got lost on his was to elementary school and ended up here freshman year, and now look! He could definitely pass as a freshman! Me on the other hand, I just look like my freshman self but with a neck beard.
High school, for those of us who have already blocked it out of our memories, is a lot of shifting friend groups and unnecessary drama, but one of the most incredible things I saw during my time here was how we all came together in Disney, and that gets me really excited to spend Senior Week and summer concerts with not only my closest friends, but my entire graduating class. So I guess I need to thank our good good friend Mr. Sergio Torres for getting us there through a blizzard. [Turn to Torres] You can be our friend now right?
Probably the one thing I’ll remember the most from my time at Holy Cross is winning that state championship with the baseball team. That’s something that me and my teammates will always have, and I look forward to talking about the glory days with them down the line. So to Pat, Conall, Nate, Tommy, Casey, Thomas, and Zach, when I look back at my high school baseball career I will not remember being on the mound, but I will remember hanging out with you guys in the dugout and screaming things that I can not repeat on this stage today like a crazy person.
If you think about it, we do have a pretty incredible group of students, soon be be adults, here today. We have graduates that are aspiring to be engineers, doctors, lawyers, mona lisas, mad hatters, the list goes on! We have future military leaders, 200 goal scorers, future politicians, it is a pretty diverse crowd. So, I do not think we have a lot or worrying to do about the future, this class is going to do a lot of big things in this world, and I’m just thankful to be a part of it.
We will not remember our time in high school by what grades we got or how many likes we got on Instagram, or how much of a success our senior sleepout was, we are going to remember the relationships we had, what kind of people we were, the good times, the bad times, and the stories we can tell. And I know that even though I was supposed to talk about the future today I spent a lot of time on things that have already happened, but I think that’s what’s going to matter most to us in the long run. So remember that life's not about money or success, it is about how happy you can make yourself and the others around you. And you guys have made this the happiest four years of my life, so I owe you all a huge thank you. And a you are welcome.
All jokes aside, I want to end this with a little anecdote. We have all been told to follow our dreams, but that does not take into account if our dreams are foolish. The Logan Napoli of ten years ago dreamed of being a WWE superstar as he fought pillows in his living room for practice. But today, I am a 5’6” soon to be 19 year old, capable of writing a mean graduation speech, and wishing to someday save lives on an operating table, but clearly no Hulk Hogan. And I love that because thankfully dreams can change. If we all stuck with our first dreams, the world would be overrun with Hulk Hogans, and that just sounds terrifying. So whatever your dream may be right now, if you do not achieve it, that does not make you a failure or a loser by any stretch of the imagination. And if you do get your dream, that does not make you a winner. So all in all, do not be afraid to dream, but also do not be afraid to change. I wish you all the very best, and once again, congratulations.