PROVIDENCE — St. Patrick Academy was a scene of great celebration on Saturday, June 11, as the graduates processed into the church as a class for the final time during the commencement exercises. Family and friends cheered their congratulations to the 15 members of the class of 2016, all of whom will be attending college in the fall.
Pastor Father James Ruggieri opened the ceremony with the invocation, while Principal Bruce Daigle welcomed the graduates and Bishop Emeritus Louis E. Gelineau distributed the diplomas and offered the Benediction. Barbara Wright, a member of the parish council and St. Patrick Academy School Board, addressed the students as commencement speaker.
“You are going to follow the path that God has placed you on,” she told the graduates. “And he will make it very clear if you say yes to him.”
Student speakers for the afternoon included Mistress of Ceremonies Virgelica Cabral, Salutatorian Madeleine Zorrilla and Valedictorian Paola Uriona, who arrived at St. Patrick Academy as a junior after moving to Providence from Bolivia. Zorrilla spoke about the many new beginnings experienced by the class and by her personally, thanking the school and her classmates for helping her reconnect with her faith and acclimate to her new life.
“Think of your life and of all the opportunities out there that are waiting for you,” she told her fellow graduates. “Two years ago, I would not have been able to stand here and give a speech in English. But thanks to you, I’m here. I’m grateful to all of you.”
In addition to recognizing the top students in each subject area, the school awarded two prestigious honors at the graduation ceremony. The North American Catholic Educational Programming Foundation Leadership Award, presented in recognition of stellar leadership and respect for others, was awarded to Brooxana Pierre. The St. Patrick Award, presented to a student who has contributed significantly to the welfare of the academy through academic and athletic participation, leadership and personal integrity, was awarded to Madeleine Zorrilla.