PROVIDENCE — St. Patrick Academy gave a heartfelt sendoff to its 15 graduating seniors as they headed off to college at a commencement ceremony held at St. Patrick Church in Providence on June 9.
Salutatorian Franklin Disla, Jr., recalled how far he had progressed in his four years at the academy, thanking his parents, sister, teachers and staff at the school. He also expressed his gratitude and appreciation for his classmates, whom he called his “second family.”
“I would personally like to thank you all for treating me as a brother throughout these years. On my worst days, you all would cheer me up, so I could find the positivity that I needed to continue throughout the rest of the day. On my best days, you all congratulated me and made me feel as if I was worth much more than I thought I was. I could not thank you more for that,” Disla said.
“I will miss you all and I will keep you within my heart for the rest of my life,” Disla added.
Valedictorian Camila Uriona recalled her experience as an immigrant from Bolivia. One week after coming to the United States she enrolled at St. Patrick. As a freshman, she focused on her studies and felt isolated from her peers. But over the years, she opened up to them, learning to appreciate the value of community, Uriona said.
“Remember, we need to be part of a community. We will find new communities once we graduate and move on. Choose wisely what community you will join because any individual is as strong as his or her community is,” Uriona said.
Commencement speaker Dr. Marian Mattison, a retired professor of social work at Providence College, urged graduates to pursue greatness without fame or recognition by making a difference in their local community. She told the story of a high school student who started an app to help lonely students find a table at lunchtime. That app, Sit With Us, now has 100,000 users across nine countries, according to Mattison.
“Making money may be easier than making meaning, but making meaning is the challenge,” Mattison said.