PROVIDENCE — Seniors at St. Raphael Academy closed one chapter of their lives and started another at commencement exercises held at the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in downtown Providence June 9.
Salutatorian Oluwatoyin Okele invoked designer Hubert de Givenchy’s metaphor of life as a book to describe her classmates’ time at St. Raphael.
“What themes can we get from our novel? What messages and morals can we get from your story? Will readers be encouraged to persevere through all trials? Will they believe that family is the most important of all things? Will they read that it is worth it to be financially stable? Will they agree in the existence of — or the mythical nature of — the American Dream?” Okele said.
Okele also took time to thank the “supporting characters” in the students’ chapter — their teachers, as well as fellow classmates, parents, and siblings.
“Let’s close the book, and now pick up a pen or pencil. It’s time to start a new chapter,” Okele said.
Valedictorian Bryce Gillis stressed the importance of persevering through challenges to pursue one’s goals in life.
“As we move forward in life, I ask each one of you to recognize that we all have goals which seem too lofty or too difficult to attain, but why else should these goals exist if not to challenge us? The highest of mountains are meant to be climbed. The most rapid of rivers are supposed to be crossed. Your most formidable obstacles exist for the purpose of overcoming them,” Gillis said.
Gillis reminded his classmates that the day’s ceremony was properly named a “commencement” because it was the beginning of their “adult lives.” “My fellow classmates, today we are opening a door and crossing the threshold into a new age of our lives. Even though we are going into a new room, we have only just entered the building,” Gillis said.
Judith Baxter, the vice principle of academics, cited the wisdom of Dr. Seuss in her parting advice to students. “Determining your destination is priority one. What the brain can dream up, the body can fulfill if there is a strong determination and a clear vision of what it is that you want to do,” she said.