It is a day uniquely special to each member of the Chaminade Family. Graduation doesn't just mark the end of a student's Chaminade career; rather, it is the beginning of a new chapter. More than 430 graduates of the Class of 2017 are now off to 144 institutions of higher learning.
The Baccalaureate Mass was held Sunday morning at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts at LIU Post. During his homily, Chaminade Chaplain Rev. Garrett Long, S.M. '62, left a lasting message with the school's newest alumni. "You are always a part of the Chaminade Family. You can count on us to be there for you now and forever."
Commencement exercises began in the afternoon as graduates processed to the stage to the tune of Edward Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance." After an introduction from Bro. Joseph Bellizzi, S.M. '78, Chaminade's principal, and Mr. Patrick Hoey '01, assistant principal of academics, John Luke Hoonhout delivered his salutatory address.
"The value of a Chaminade education comes from its formation of the whole human person: body, mind, and soul," Hoonhout said. "Every aspect of Chaminade, from its buildings to its curriculum to its faculty and staff, is centered around this one goal. This mission unifies the Chaminade community and molds it into a family."
Michael Carolan was named the class valedictorian and received the Chaminade Academic Excellence Award for the highest cumulative average for grades 9, 10, 11 and 12. He leaves Chaminade for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Carolan made news this year as a National Merit Scholar – one of only 15,000 nationwide finalists.
"In this pivotal time of transition in our lives, when we finally take our aspirations into our own hands, we need just one last thing from our friends in the crowd," he said. "We ask that you watch, listen, and believe in our dreams. We haven't seen the future yet, but I am sure that the Class of 2017 will continue to aspire to greatness, just like we always have at Chaminade."
The annual Chaminade Man award is a coveted prize given to the most outstanding student in each year's graduating class. While the Class of 2017 awardee is known for his well-rounded character at school, Jude Okonkwo's story has been shared by an immeasurable number of people outside of the Chaminade Family.
Jude snatched news headlines for gaining acceptance to all eight Ivy League schools. He has also been named one of 12 "Extraordinary Seniors" by Newsday. Settling on Harvard, Jude wishes to pursue a career in medicine. His interest in the field began as a youngster living in southeastern Louisiana, where he witnessed the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina. As a result, Jude learned how to swim and now serves as a lifeguard in Huntington. At Chaminade, Jude held leadership roles in several student activities, including the National Honor Society, Glee Club, and Tarmac newspaper.
Other awards were presented to graduates:
Patrick Johnson, Fr. Philip Eichner, S.M. Award: given to the second most outstanding senior in the graduating class.
Max Amestegui, Bro. Joseph Fox, S.M. Service Award: demonstrating the most outstanding service to the school and community.
Ryan Smith, Bro. Louis Faerber, S.M. Service Award: given to the senior with the second most outstanding service to the school and community.
Francesco Aniello Tangredi, Joseph F. Thomas Student-Athlete Award: Chaminade's highest award to a student-athlete.
Matthew Chmil, Frank "Boiler" Burns Student-Athlete Award: Chaminade's second-highest award given to a student-athlete.
Kellen Paradine, John R. Lenz "Semper Fidelis" Award: given to student who has demonstrated the greatest perseverance and dedication to the pursuit of athletic achievement and excellence.
Matthew Dossie, Parish Religious Education Award: given to the student who has contributed the most to teaching Christian doctorine.
Alexander Oruci, Angelo Ferdinando Band Award: for excellence in and dedication to the Chaminade Band.
Patrick Johnson, Robert C. Wright Speech and Debate Club Award: for excellence in and dedication to the Speech and Debate club.
Tyler Sundberg, Albert Kozar Drama Club Award: for excellence in and dedication to the Chaminade Drama Club.
Jude Okonkwo, Alexander Ott Glee Club Award: for excellence in and dedication to the Glee Club.
Matthew Chang, String Orchestra Award: for excellence in and dedication to the String Orchestra.
Congratulations to the entire Class of 2017! You are and will remain in our prayers.