For the class of 2023 at Holy Family Catholic High School, May 21 was a day not only for celebration of accomplishments and gratitude for support from loved ones but also for reflection on lessons learned.
One hundred and seventeen graduates heard their names called and walked across the stage in the Slattery Athletic and Convocation Center to receive their high school diploma on the sunny Sunday morning. And while high school graduation marks somewhat of an ending, students spoke about how to carry lessons learned at the school with them throughout the rest of life.
Salutatorian Emma Murphy talked about her passion for music when addressing the class and curated a four-song playlist that described their four years at the school. ‘Standing Outside the Fire’ by Garth Brooks represented the nerves and excitement about entering high school, as students were hesitant to try new things, talk to new people and be themselves. Reflecting back, Murphy said she was glad she decided to ‘fully submerge’ herself into the ‘Fire family.’
“Freshman year is about being open-minded and putting yourself out there, even when it seems daunting,” Murphy said in her speech. “I will remember this when I return to the bottom of the food chain as a freshman next year.”
The class’s sophomore year was marred by the COVID-19 pandemic. Murphy related Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Don’t Stop’ to this year because of the message of being resilient and not dwelling on the past. And while junior year brought stress from taking challenging classes, searching for colleges and preparing for standardized tests, Murphy listened to Billy Joel’s ‘Vienna’ as a reminder to ‘slow down, you crazy child’ and not to be so afraid.
“With uncertainty of moving on the horizon, I felt as though Billy Joel was directing this question right at me,” Murphy said. “I was fearful when I should have had more faith since everything happens for a reason.”
The fourth and final song to make the playlist was ‘Where’d all the time go?’ by Dr. Dog. Murphy said that it felt as if the time flew by right as the graduates became their closest in senior year.
Following Murphy’s address, valedictorian Michael Richelsen addressed the class about the four pillars of Holy Family Catholic: integrity, scholarship, leadership and faith. Richelsen said he realized the group had grown in all four areas.
Richelsen acknowledged that these four pillars were important to their education during high school but added that they should not be forgotten once they stepped out of the building doors one final time.
“As you all assimilate into your new communities, remember to be unwavering in your own values and continue to inspire those around you,” Richelsen said. “Encounter every frightening challenge with even more courage and strength, and lastly, continue to build on your integrity, scholarship, leadership and faith because if you do, you will change the world.”
Murphy and Richelsen each received the May and Joseph medals awarded by the school every year. The medals are awarded to a male and female graduate who best exemplify the identity and values of the school. Classmates nominate recipients, and then faculty, staff and administration votes on nominations.
Fellow graduates Benjamin Gallus and Dayrin Jimenez received the Ambassador of Christ awards. Administration presents the award to a graduate who has consistently acted in a dignified and honorable manner, and by doing so, has influenced others to strive for goodness and holiness. Holy Family Catholic typically awards one senior with the Ambassador of Christ but awarded two seniors this year.