Sunday’s Notre Dame High School graduation ceremony was filled with thank-yous, encouraging quotes and acknowledgments for those who played a part in the celebratory finale.
For Salutatorian Lucia Sprague, the day was about expressing appreciation for everyone from her fellow students to faculty members.
“When writing a speech, I wanted to thank … the teachers and staff, so we could succeed and prosper to the best of our ability. Thank you for devoting your lives to the pursuit of knowledge,” she said at Resurrection Parish. “To our families, thank you for nurturing us and never giving up on us. By being here today, you are supporting the young men and women that you love and cherish. To our coaches, thank you for the hours you have put in, molding us as accomplished athletes. The lessons you have taught us on the field and in the court are some of the best lessons (we had). To my fellow seniors, you have all made it so far and be proud of yourselves. I could not be more grateful.”
Co-valedictorians Gavin Schrader and Nathaniel Brew also were full of thanks for family members, friends and school staff. At the risk of being redundant, Brew wanted to emphasize a phrase that he figured everyone has already heard some 20,000 times.
“High school has been some of the best and worst years of my life. People tell you to grow up, but also enjoy life because it goes by so fast. I’m grateful for everything Notre Dame has done for us,” Brew said. “And for the 20,000th and first time, ND is a family. Good luck to our graduating class.”
The Class of 2022 — decked out in yellow gold and navy blue — received that final certificate of accomplishment for not just the last four years at the Batavia-based private school, but for the 13-year journey of an important educational career, Principal Wade Bianco said.
The journey doesn’t happen without the support of others, though, he said. He asked that, first the grandparents, followed by parents, and finally faculty, staff and coaches to stand up and be recognized for the pivotal roles they had within each graduate’s success story.
Families make sacrifices to send their children to Notre Dame “and help us lift them to achieve their dreams,” he said, and school employees provide leadership to get the job done.
“You don’t become rich working at Notre Dame, but you know where you do? You get rich in your heart, your mind and your soul …you get the experience of working with these kids.”
An avid reader, Bianco often likes to share positive messages that he gleans from various writers. His advice, from Henry Ford, Dr. Seuss and many others, included that, before you act or react, think; earn before you spend; wait before you criticize and try before quitting. He encouraged students to never stop questioning, whether it’s directed at college professors, politicians, or even themselves.
“My wish for you is that this life becomes all that you want it to be: your dreams stay big, your worries stay small,” he said, continuing to borrow from motivational quotes. “Obstacles are the frightful things you see who you take your eyes off the goal. Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.”
Be open to all of the possibilities out there, he said, to anything that their futures may bring, while also celebrating today’s achievements. And, perhaps the most notable quote of all, for when pursuing challenges that seem too daunting.
“Try one more time,” he said.
Top photo, left to right is Notre Dame Assistant Principal Mike Rapone, Salutatorian Lucia Sprague, Co-Valdictorians Nathaniel Brew, Gavin Schrader, Director of Academic Advisement & Communications Kristen Gomez, Principal Wade Bianco
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Photos by Steve Ognibene