Grateful grads say goodbye to Keough family

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PAWTUCKET — “This is it - this is the day,” said Salutatorian Alison Carr, smiling, nervous but excited, moments before processing into Saint Maria Goretti Church for Bishop Francis P. Keough Regional High School’s commencement ceremony.

On Friday, June 6, Carr and her 15 classmates said farewell to their Keough family, ready to begin the journey into the next chapter of their lives.

Carr shared that Class of 2014 would not be taking this next step without the dedication of their educators.

“We extend our sincerest thanks for all the support, assistance, guidance and concern we received from you,” she said. “Your insights enlightened us, your instruction educated us, your encouragement challenged us to achieve beyond what we thought we could achieve and your daily invitation to explore the world brought us to this moment.”

Carr also offered a heartfelt “thank you” to all the parents and loved ones for all of their sacrifices they have made so that the young women could attend the Pawtucket Catholic high school.

“You hold a special place in our hearts and you share in all that we have accomplished and all that we will accomplish in the years to come. You have been our biggest supporters. We lovingly dedicate our diplomas to you and thank you for everything you have done for us throughout our lives.”

Jenne Velasquez, mother of graduate Jacinda, expressed how proud she is of her daughter’s accomplishments.

“I am beyond excited,” she said. “I had Jacinda when I was 14 years old and when I graduated high school she was three. I encouraged her to come to Keough because of the values that they instill here and she has done wonderfully. Keough paved the way to college and prepared her to set out on her own and take the world on.”

For Valedictorian Shannon McMillan, her high school years felt like they went by in the “blink of an eye.”

“But it also feels like we have been here our entire lives,” she said. “Four years ago we looked up to the seniors, wondering what it was like to be graduating and feel our own graduation was decades away. Now look at us!”

McMillan added how grateful she is for her fellow classmates, who have all impacted her life in one way or another.

“We may go separate ways, but your memories will remain with us forever,” she said. “I hope we will hold onto them like a rare and valued keepsake…”

Bishop Keough alumna and keynote speaker Patricia St. Germain, director of development at the Jonnycake Center of Westerly, offered the graduates some valuable advice as a fellow “sister.”

“Take care of their friendships. You need a handful of good, true friends who’ll support you no matter what,” St. Germain said. “I’m lucky to have a handful of real friends. They include a few I hung out with when we were at Keough. They have kept me honest, cheered me on and reminded me that it’s family and friends that matter most.”

She also challenged the young women to let people know they matter by writing them handwritten notes; to celebrate birthdays; that some of the most important experiences in life will occur at the least convenient time; and to not let fear keep them from learning new things.

Concluding, St. Germain told the graduates that when the find themselves in doubt, to seek hope.

“What great news that every member of this graduating class will be going on to college. I think that’s awesome. I think you’re amazing,” she said. “But, there may be days when you will not feel either awesome or amazing. There are people in your life ready to act ‘like gardeners, to plant those seeds of hope’ when you may doubt yourself.”

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Bishop Keough Class of 2014

Summer Love Barnes

Alison Maria Carr

Nicole Marie DiCenzo

Daryn Michele Gholston

Moriah Aminta Gomez

Stefanie Laurinda Harry-Luna

Jacinda Hernandez

Brianna Leigh Higgins

Kelley Jean Horrigan

Shannon Estrena McMillan

Hayley Marie Elizabeth Mignacca

Savannah Marie Mirabella

Melissa Ann Miranda

Tatyana Correia Oliveira

Dashlee Vanessa Rodriques

Oluwasola Felicia Salako

Keough