Graduation 2014

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On June 12, 2014, the Baccalaureate Mass and graduation ceremony for our eighth graders and high school seniors took place at St. Andrew Church in Pasadena. Standing out in the eighth grade class were Rebecca Battles as eighth grade speaker and Yamila Evans as recipient of the Anne Nutter Bessette Scholarship. In the high school, St. Monica graduated its largest class of seniors to date, 19, including four students who have attended our school since the first grade. Fr. Hugh Barbour, O.Praem., celebrated the Baccalaureate Mass.

Salutatorian Thomas Boles then opened the graduation ceremony with a concise and inspiring speech. Following this, seniors Anna Goodwin and JohnPaul Talbot (winner of the Cardinal Newman Award) unveiled the Class of 2014’s gift to St. Monica Academy, a large painting of St. Monica with her son Augustine and grandson Adeodatus. The artist commissioned for this painting, Frater Simeon Goodwin, O.Praem, is currently studying for the priesthood at St. Michael’s Abbey. The highlight of the evening was senior Gabriel Johnson’s witty valedictory address, which appears below in its entirety:

“Good evening. I can hardly believe that after all this time, our last year at St. Monica’s is finally drawing to a close. I still remember my first year here as a shy, immature kid, not used to being polite much less gentlemanly, inept at making conversation, and completely devoid of school spirit. I guess I haven’t changed all that much.

But although I doubt I could ever get used to the deafening cries of, “We’ve got spirit, how about you,” I can hardly imagine any high school I’d rather have gone to than St. Monica’s. I say this as someone who attended another Catholic school for six years. The theology program at that school was, frankly, sub-par. As if fun were intrinsically opposed to learning, an atmosphere of grave silence was maintained in the classrooms. While there were perhaps a few individual teachers who were actually cheerful in class, classes as a whole were certainly not anything I would describe as fun. When I started attending St. Monica’s in sixth grade, the difference was really striking. The first thing I noticed was that there were so many more blonde people. But more important is the next thing I noticed, which is that the classes were so much more fun. Despite the more formal uniform, the classes were infinitely more informal. Teachers would crack jokes and allow the students to do the same, as long as things didn’t get out of hand. Mr. Mario Landeros, our sixth grade teacher, would illustrate principles using absurd examples involving an overweight girl named Philomena, and whenever anyone asked him to do something he couldn’t, he would joke that he was Super Mario, not Super Man.

And of course, in high school, we’ve only had more merriment in the classroom. The stream-of-consciousness journal exercise in Ancient Literature, and all the laughs we’ve had hearing each other’s random thoughts, has been my single favorite thing about any literature class ever. In debate class, David Blackwell tried to get everyone to end every speech with “God bless America.” And then there’s all of our in-class skits; that time in Medieval History when Thomas played the fat sultan stands out in my memory as an ingenious bit of physical comedy.

But the upbeat mood in the classroom does not come at the expense of academic rigor. We’ve read literature from Sophocles to Edgar Allan Poe, learned math from equations in slope-intercept form to imaginary numbers, and read Latin from Cornelia and Flavia sitting under the tree to Aeneas being caught in a storm. Most importantly, St. Monica’s has taught us about the Faith. Unlike some schools, which prefer to spend their religion classes telling students things to feel good about, St. Monica’s tells students all aspects of the Faith, both the easy and the difficult, both the inspiring and the intimidating, and challenges them to try to understand.

In Goethe’s Faust, the devil says of man’s rationality, “Man calls it reason and uses it simply to be more beastly than any beast.” In our country, as people ignore God more and more, this tendency is becoming ever more apparent: our politicians are thinking more of how to take advantage of their office than how to serve their people, our philosophers are trying to rationalize absurdities in order to justify their moral relativism, our doctors are devoting their skills to abortion and birth control, and our so-called “civil rights activists” are insisting that perverse practices be condoned by the law. Without a strong religious foundation, even reason will lead you astray. This is why places like St. Monica’s that foster reason, and faith, and virtue, are so vital. So, my fellow students, even if you may have some complaints about the school, remember that this school has taught you what other schools would not have cared to tell you, or would have been afraid to.

So thank you to Mrs. Grimm and the rest of the faculty and staff for providing us with this kind of education. Thank you to our parents for making the sacrifices to send us to a good school. Thank you to the anonymous benefactor whose generosity allowed us to go to Catalina. Thank you to Mrs. Halpin for helping us tirelessly through the college admissions process, and for organizing the D.C. trip. And lastly, but not leastly, I would also like to thank Mr. Goodwin for that gold slip he never gave me. God bless America.”

Photos of the graduation are online at www.stmonicaacademy.com/photos/. A DVD of the baccalaureate mass and graduation ceremony can be purchased through our school office.

The following are individual profiles of the SMA Graduating Class of 2014:

Madeline Barry – Winner of the Dean’s Scholarship at Univ. of Dallas, graduating with 2nd honors and going to the University of Dallas.

Christopher Boldt – Winner of the subject medal in Religion, Winner of the Coach’s Award in Cross Country, Volleyball and Track, Most Improved in Men’s Volleyball, Multiple Essay Contest Winner, Winner of the President’s Scholarship from Univ. of Portland, winner of the Founder’s Scholarship from Creighton U., graduating with 1st Honors and going to the University of Notre Dame.

Thomas Boles – Lead Altar Server, an Eagle Scout, Gold Medalist in Latin, Winner of the Ronald Reagan Student Leader Award, 1st Team All-League in Basketball, Defensive Player of the Year for Basketball and Baseball, Winner of the Subject Medal in History, Government & Economics, our Student Council President and 2014 Salutatorian, graduating with 1st Honors and going to UCLA.

Adrianna De Artola – Winner of the National Hispanic Scholar Award, 4-time Gold Medalist in Latin, graduating with 1st Honors and going to St. Mary’s College.

Anna Goodwin – 1st Team All-League in Varsity Volleyball, Winner of the 2014 Archdiocesan Christian Service Award, Winner of the Poetry Medal, a National Merit Commended Scholar, graduating with 1st Honors and entering as a postulant in the Congregation of Norbertine Sisters.

Daniel Griffin – Lead Altar Server, Winner of the Drama Medal, Lead actor in Shakespeare dramas (four years), Honor Tenor at the L.A. High School Festival Showcase Choir, going to Santa Monica College.

Andrew Grimm – 2nd Team All-League in Volleyball, 2nd Place Winner in the Pasadena High School Schubertiade, graduating with 1st Honors and going to Citrus College.

Madeline Hagan – Member of Student Council, 1st Team All-League in Basketball, Winner of the Dean’s Scholarship at Fordham University, graduating with 1st honors and going to the University of Notre Dame.

Christine Hall – Winner of the University of La Verne Trustee Scholarship and Grant, going to the University of La Verne.

Gilbert Inman – Lead Altar Server, League MVP in Basketball, 1st Team All-League Baseball, graduating with 2nd Honors and going to the University of Dallas.

Gabriel Johnson – Winner of the Math Medal, Winner of the Science Medal, Winner of the Latin medal, Gold Medalist & Cum Honore Maximo in Latin, inaugurated Biblical Greek at SMA, National Merit Finalist, our 2014 Valedictorian, graduating with 1st Honors and going to the University of Mississippi.

Sharon Le Berthon – Starting pitcher and 2nd Team All-League in Softball, going to Cal State Channel Islands.

Serena Lessard – Winner of the Literature medal, Lead actress in Shakespeare dramas, graduating with 1st Honors and going to Thomas Aquinas College.

Nicole Mejia – Member of Student Council, Winner of the Ronald Reagan Student Leader Award, Winner of the Visual Arts Medal, Winner of the LMU Achievement Scholarship and Grant, graduating with 1st Honors and going to Loyola Marymount University.

Sebastian Mireles – Member of Student Council, Varsity Basketball, Varsity Baseball, Lead Altar Server, Lead Actor in Shakepeare dramas, Winner of the President’s Scholarship at the University of Dallas, graduating with 2nd Honors and going to the University of Dallas.

Christa Nuno – Member of Student Council, Varsity Volleyball, Gold Medalist in Latin, Winner of the Music Medal, Cantor, Schola Conductor, Music Center Spotlight Awards Semi-Finalist, Pasadena Schubertiade 1st Place Winner, Honor Alto at the L.A. High School Festival Showcase Choir, Winner of two scholarships from the Catholic University of America, graduating with 1st Honors and going to the Catholic University of America.

JohnPaul Talbot – Member of Student Council, Lead Altar Server, Crusaders for Life, MVP in Cross Country for three consecutive years, Yearbook Editor-in-Chief, Ronald Reagan Student Leader Award, an Eagle Scout, Winner of the 2014 Cardinal Newman Award and going to the Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Stephanie Vargas – going to Santa Monica College.

Elena Zepeda – Winner of the Poetry Medal, Gold Medalist in Latin, Lead actress in Shakespeare dramas, graduating with 1st honors and going to Thomas Aquinas College.

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