OGDEN — The 41 members of the Saint Joseph Catholic High School Class of 2012, 29 of whom are members of the National Honor Society, go forth to their college years with $2.47 million in scholarships among them.
"Your futures are very, very bright," said the Most Rev. John C. Wester, Bishop of Salt Lake City, during the commencement May 16 at Saint Joseph Catholic Church.
Keynote speaker Dr. Monika Serbinowska, who teaches mathematics at St. Joseph High School, spoke endearingly about specific graduates, then urged the class as a whole: "Whatever you do, do it with love and passion" and "dream big."
The technique of small steps can be used "to achieve anything you want," Serbinowska said, but warned the students that "the time will come when your talents are not enough…. You will fail; hopefully, only occasionally… [but] mistakes will make you stronger and wiser."
Above all, graduates should recognize the power of love in their lives, Serbinowska said.
The class’ top graduates – Valedictorian Adam Sutherland and Salutatorian Jeffery DeGrauw – both expressed gratitude in their addresses.
"We have lived through a four tough years together at St. Joseph’s, trying to balance a seemingly impossible course load with several extracurriculars and sports that made today seem out of reach, but now we are graduating," DeGrauw said. "The feat could never have been accomplished without the strength of our class, setting the example and encouraging others to go the extra mile."
DeGrauw thanked the teachers who pushed the students to achieve and stayed after school to offer academic help. To the families, he said, "Thank you for the sacrifices you made to allow us to come to such a great school. We appreciate the time and all your contributions you have made for us … especially when we needed to be picked up after midnight or dropped off before sunrise."
Sutherland also thanked his classmates and their families. "I want to congratulate everyone here today, not just the graduates, but the friends and family, too," he said. "Each one of you is here today because you have influenced these graduates in some way and touched their lives in ways unimaginable. Their success is your success, and their success is something we should all be happy about."
In his closing comments, Bishop Wester complimented Sutherland and DeGrauw for reflecting the value of gratitude. "I pray that you will never, ever lose that ‘attitude of gratitude,’" he said. "My dear graduates – my brothers and sisters in Christ – you’ve been given a great gift from your families, your parish, the Saint Joseph Catholic High School."
This precious gift is that of perspective, "the perspective to know that there is much in life for which we are grateful," Bishop Wester said. "As a matter of fact, every moment of our existence is a moment to give thanks to God, who sustains us in life, who is constantly renewing that life. We are grateful for our families, for the friendships we’ve made along the way, for good health, for the gift of faith to view everything through God’s goodness. Be grateful for that."
As the graduates prepared to process out of the church, Holy Cross Sister Catherine Kamphaus, superintendent of Utah Catholic Schools, gave them a final farewell. "We were hoping that you would never leave, but you have to," she said. "Remember that you are alumni of Saint Joseph High School and be proud."