SCRANTON — “Pomp and Circumstance” was not only the processional song; it was the theme of the ceremony as 213 students prepared to receive their diplomas during the 69th annual commencement of the Scranton Preparatory School at the St. Francis Xavier Center in Scranton on June 7.
As that traditional entrance tune played, the male seniors entered a packed gymnasium wearing formal shirts and bow ties beneath their robes, and their female counterparts donned white dresses that could only be described as their Sunday best.
Equally well-dressed family members and friends took advantage of the intimate indoor venue to shoot photographs of their smiling graduates-to-be as they entered the gymnasium two-by-two.
Teachers wore their academic robes complete with the decorations of their intellectual achievements, proof of their prowess in passing information on to the graduates who earned their diplomas.
Even the Bishop of the Scranton Diocese, Joseph C. Bambera, was in attendance to receive a special award.
Peter Kulick stood on stage before this crowd of people and gave an address. The class salutatorian likened the development of the class of 2015 to the growth of a tree, taking time to thank the group of mentors (parents, teachers, religious advisors) for helping them develop a foundation (roots) of morality and faith by nurturing them.
Referring to himself and his classmates as fully grown trees on their day of graduation, Kulick alluded to storms that will shake their branches, but he said he was confident that the group would challenge themselves and make positive strides in the world through acts of service.
“We will always share what we learned at Prep,” said Kulick, “which is to be men and women for others.”
The salutatorian then left his classmates with words of encouragement. He first quoted St. Ignatius, challenging them to “go forth, and set the world on fire.” He then asked his fellow graduates to remember their school motto “ad altiora natus,” which translates to “born for higher things.”
When valedictorian Mia Woloszyn took the pulpit, she spoke of paths in life, stressing the importance of conviction and individuality. “It is up to us to create our own path,” she said, “despite what the world is telling us to do.
Woloszyn then celebrated Scranton Prep, saying that the school taught her and her classmates to be well-rounded people, perhaps making the potential struggle ahead a bit easier for them.
The valedictorian celebrated the achievements of her class, both academic and athletic, but she put particular significance on the support that they gave each other. Noting that she was not a frequent starter on the softball team, she lauded the importance of being a proud, spirited member of the team.
Woloszyn explained that such support for one another was evidence of the sincere friendships that bonded the class together, and she said those bonds became most evident during Kairos. Kairos is a Jesuit tradition in which young people go on a retreat for several days to contemplate the role of God in their lives.
“We have laughed together, mourned together, won together and lost together,” said Woloszyn. “That has made our class stronger and closer than ever before.”