DANBURY – Graduates of St. Joseph Elementary School were greeted with the sound of cheers and honking car horns from passing motorists as they emerged from their Graduation Mass ceremony.
On Friday, the fourteen joyous graduates tossed their graduation caps in the air in a celebratory gesture to completing this chapter of their education.
“This is a very special and important milestone in your lives,” Pastor Father Samuel Scott told the young graduates gathered with their families at the Robinson Avenue church. “As you take this step on your future path today, go forth as the hope of the world and the light of the world,” he said.
Father Scott congratulated the students for not just fulfilling the obligation of their education but for also learning the value of truth and selflessness.
He urged the graduates to always engage their hearts and minds to make a difference.
“St. Joseph School exists in order for you to have the intellectual and spiritual tools needed in this world,” he said.
Principal Dr. Louis Howe, Jr., agreed and also emphasized the importance of service leadership.
“Take risks,” he said. “As a leader, be able to be different, go outside of your comfort zone and try things, and if you fail, that’s ok,” he said, adding that there are many lessons to be learned along the way.
Father Scott thanked the parents and the parish community for the sacrifices they made to make this day possible. He encouraged students to show their gratitude through their actions to all those who have supported them and continue to support them.
“Thrive not only in school but as Catholic Christians in this world,” Father Scott said.
Scholarships and academic awards were given out to the graduates proudly wearing their school colors of purple and white graduation robes.
“St. Joseph has been a second home to me,” said graduate Olivia Rose Chila, during her address to her fellow classmates. “Even though our last year wasn’t how we envisioned it, we made the most of it,” she said. Among other things, the coronavirus pandemic affected the school’s athletic programs and prohibited the traditional eighth grade class trip.
Dr. Howe said the students showed tremendous resolve and dedication to excel when faced with challenges.
He acknowledged their hard work by sporting a new look of purple hair at the graduation. It was a nod to their accomplishment of exceeding a goal of fundraising $15-thousand dollars. The students’ fund-raising efforts generated more than $42-thousand dollars for the school.
In her closing remarks, graduate Cynthia Kesslin Silverman noted that although the class lived through a pandemic and challenging classes, they knew they could always lean on each other.
“Friendship has the power to conquer everything,” she said.
The graduation Mass was the beginning of an evening of festive celebration. Following the Mass, family and friends were invited to Anthony’s Lake Club on Columbus Avenue for the annual graduation dinner and the presentation of non-academic awards.
“I’m proud of each and every one of them,” Howe said.
By Kathy-Ann Gobin