Graduation: St. Raphael Academy

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PROVIDENCE — The 91 members of St. Raphael Academy’s Class of 2016 entered the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul to a volley of camera flashes on Saturday, June 11, as the Pawtucket school celebrated its 89th commencement.

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Justin Jackson told his peers that it was an honor to speak to them in his address not only as class valedictorian, but also as a fellow classmate and friend.

“We have the Lasallian principles of faith, community and service instilled in us, and we have been under the guidance of some truly inspirational faculty members,” he said in his address.

“We are all unique people, and we will all embark on our own paths. Each of us will change the world in different ways.”

No matter where the next steps in life will bring them, each of them would go out and make a difference in some way.

“As Pope Francis said, we are the ‘Generation of Hope,’ we are the generation that can bring about change to this world,” said Jackson, who will study pharmacy at the University of Rhode Island this fall.

Salutatorian Randy Agudelo opened his address by speaking about how the gift of gratitude can change someone’s life for the better.

He read a quote from Melody Beattie, the author of several self-help books which he described as apropos for the occasion.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend,” he said, noting how Beattie’s words apply directly to his experience over the last four years as a St. Raphael student.

In addition to expressing his own gratitude to his teachers and family who supported him during his educational journey at St. Ray’s, he also reflected on the good times that he had with his fellow students that prepared him for this day.

“I will miss our spiritual retreats where we got to know each other on a deeper level,” he said. “Each retreat, we would get closer to both God and each other.”