"Prep has given us the brushes to paint the masterpiece that is our lives," Declan Alvidrez, '18 told his classmates during Prep's 140th Commencement. "So pick up your brush."
Equipped with the lessons learned, the friendships forged, and the perspective gained over four years at Grand & Warren, the 233 newest Prep alumni now move forward to make their mark in the world beyond. As Declan noted, the journey thus far has been highlighted by "state championships, academic awards, inspiring performances, and devotion to service," but the everyday experiences have been no less important. And above all, "we have been through it all together. We have laughed and cried together, felt the pain of defeat and the elation of victory together."
Declan Alvidrez addressed his classmates. More photos.
As they set about painting those future masterpieces – figurative and literal alike – the Class of '18 will no doubt find themselves questioning whether they're on the right track. No one understands this better than Ms. Megan Klim, chair of Prep's fine and performing arts department, who delivered the faculty address. She recalled a conversation with a particularly persistent student who was eager to know whether his work was "good," and the difficulty of providing him with a straightforward answer, without knowing his own criteria for success.
There are no easy answers to those questions, Ms. Klim explained. "you write the story; asking someone’s opinion can be valuable, but be careful you aren’t simply asking only for the answer...only you can ultimately define what is good to you. You make your choices, you decide how much effort you will put into something – whether it’s solving a complex math problem, fixing a car, writing a story or running a race."
Using what they've learned as a framework, it will fall to the graduates to define success for themselves. "It’s ultimately your decision, in any discipline and task you take on," she said.
While success is often in the eye of the beholder, some measures are more objective. In addition to the diplomas that reflect a successful four-year journey through Prep, a number of other awards were presented during the ceremony. A full listing of student awards is available here.
Two members of Prep's faculty and staff also received special awards during the ceremony. Ms. Cecelia Collins, who has served in numerous roles around campus since her arrival at Prep in 1998 – but who is best known as the friendly face of the attendance office – received the Bene Merenti award for her 20 years of service.
Near the end of the ceremony, before he gave the closing prayer, Fr. Tony Azzarto, S.J. was presented with the Insignis Award. Presented only periodically, this award "was established to recognize the type of person that Saint Ignatius Loyola would have wanted to draw to the Society of Jesus, a person who was magnanimous, generous, influential, an outstanding leader, and one who would recognize the good and do it." For all Fr. Azzarto has done since 1963 for Prep and the larger Prep community, in various capacities spread across three different tenures at Grand & Warren, it would be virtually impossible to think of a more deserving recipient.