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home : features : graduation December 12, 2017

Holy Cross grads reminded that 'God the Spirit' is always there
Holy Cross Academy graduates toss their caps high into the air the evening of June 5. Craig Pittelli photo
Holy Cross Academy graduates toss their caps high into the air the evening of June 5. Craig Pittelli photo
Holy Cross Valedictorian Speeches

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.

Thank you. 

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. 



The sky was cloudy and there were a few falling raindrops. But the tenuous weather in no way dampened the spirits of the 128 graduating seniors from Holy Cross Academy, Delran, who received their diplomas June 5.

Photo Gallery from Holy Cross Academy's Baccalaureate Mass

Photo Gallery from Holy Cross Academy's Commencement Exercises

Donning maroon and white caps and gowns, the graduates from Burlington County’s only Catholic high school walked as a class from the school building to the Tom Reilly football field where they were greeted with smiles and cheers from family and friends who were seated in the bleachers.

“At Holy Cross, you began your legacy, one which gives purpose, strength, confidence and hope and pride to daily experiences,” said JoAnn Tier, diocesan superintendent of Catholic education and a Holy Cross graduate in her remarks.

“As you leave all that has become familiar in HCA, it is important to realize the personal responsibility we have to use our talents to create a positive impact in society and in others,” she said, acknowledging that the class had collectively earned more than $18 million in scholarships and grants.

“Enjoy the journey which unfolds into tomorrows,” Tier said. “Experience the life-giving energy that God has placed in each of us and work to develop your talents to the fullest. Immerse yourself in the many adventures of life. Commit to the journey.”

Highlights of graduation week 2017 in Holy Cross Academy included the June 1 Baccalaureate Mass at which Father Phillip C. Pfleger, episcopal vicar of Burlington County and pastor of St. Isaac Jogues Parish, Marlton, and St. John Neumann Parish, Mount Laurel, was principal celebrant, and priests from area Burlington County parishes served as concelebrants.

In his homily, Father Pfleger reminded the graduates that Holy Cross not only provided them with a good education but a strong spiritual foundation that will serve them well in the future and to always remember that they are “never alone.”

“God the Spirit is always there,” he said.

Looking at accomplishments of the Class of 2017, Dennis Guida, HCA principal, proudly noted how the students had “made a serious commitment to servant leadership” by collaborating with programs such as the Catholic Athletes for Christ and Special Olympics Club.

He noted that with Special Olympics, the students met weekly at a local school and hosted activities for special needs students such as basketball clinics during Catholic Schools Week, a soccer clinic in the fall and a track clinic in the spring. Guida was also pleased to share that graduate Britland Binder has a patent pending with the federal government. The patent application is for a decorative doorstop, Guida said.

A special tradition that Holy Cross upkeeps for each graduation is to invite those parents who are alumni to present their children with their diplomas.

Stating how happy and proud she was to be able to hand her daughter, Victoria Lynn Bostick, with a diploma, Noelle Tracey Bostick of the Class of 1988 said she feels “honored and blessed that both my children wanted to attend Holy Cross and be a part of the Lancer community.”

“I know that the dedicated teachers and staff are committed to giving the students the skills and experiences that will prepare them for the future,” Tracey Bostick said, “and I think Victoria’s time at Holy Cross has helped her embrace new challenges, given her a chance to explore different career options, increase her social skills, celebrate successes and learn from failures. It is not just the knowledge imparted but the life lessons learned during her time at Holy Cross that I feel have prepared her to succeed in whatever she chooses to do.”

Melanie Rathgeb Brown of the Class of 1999, said it was particularly meaningful for her to present a diploma her son, William Werner Brown, “because it was a symbol of his academic achievement and in becoming a young man.” It was also a “a sign that he had overcome very serious medical odds.” Rathgeb Brown said, noting that as a newborn, “Billy” had suffered from kidney disease from which he recovered, and then last August, just before he was to enter his senior year, he was diagnosed with an “ultra rare and highly fatal liver cancer” and had to have 40 percent of his liver removed “just to survive.”

“Knowing Billy was attending Holy Cross Academy gave our family comfort because we knew our son was going to start every day with a prayer and that the teachers promoted the examples promoted by Jesus Christ,” she said.

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