MSJ grads told: The journey is what matters
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | June 08,2013
Albert J. Marro / Staff Photo
Megan Blais, left, takes a close look at the valedictorian medal of Valedictorian Leonard Bartenstein prior to Friday evening’s commencement exercises for the Mount St. Joseph Academy class of 2013.
Messages of determination, faith and the embrace of experience marked Mount St. Joseph Academy’s 126th commencement ceremony.
Family and friends of the 22 graduates gathered at St. Peter’s Church for the service Friday evening.
Salutatorian Matthew Sanborn used his grandfather as an example of the importance of setting long-term goals.
Sanborn said his grandfather pursued an education while in the Army despite the discouragement of his own commander, earning a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree in education. He went on to become an educator, setting up programs on military bases to help soldiers get college degrees.
Sanborn said that example taught him a lesson in perseverance.
“I understand now there will always be adversity and people who stand in the way,” he said. “However, one needs to stay the course.”
In Sanborn’s junior year, he said the basketball team set a goal early on of winning the state championship.
“It gave meaning and purpose to practice,” he said. “Day in and day out we entered that gym and came out more exhausted than should be physically possible.”
All that work paid off when his team lifted the trophy.
Valedictorian Leonard Bartenstein opened with a joke based on “The Catcher in the Rye.”
“‘Holden Caulfield once told a joke,’” he said. “‘He thought it was pretty funny.’ If you don’t get that joke, you’re not going to get the rest of the speech.”
Bartenstein talked about how Caulfield, the main character of “The Catcher in the Rye,” realized he could not stay a child forever but feared growing up. He said that at some point, each of the graduates had felt the same way. He then compared the class to a character in another book, “Looking for Alaska,” who winds up in a labyrinth.
“The labyrinth is the fabric of our lives and we are all tangled within it,” he said. “The journey, life experience, that is what matters.”
Bishop Salvatore Matano opened by making reference to two other recent graduation speeches — Wynton Marsalis telling University of Vermont’s graduates to remember their support systems and Jonathan Safran Foer talking to Middlebury’s grads about the importance of maintaining human relationships.
These two lessons, Matano said, pointed to a greater one.
“The ultimate support system and the ultimate form of relationship — these are found in the person of Jesus Christ,” he said. “If Mount St. Joseph Academy has taught you anything, it has taught you that faith and family are the pillars on which any successful life is built.”
MSJ Class of 2013:
Leonard Bartenstein, Megan Blais, Jessica Bruso, Deward Corlew, Madison Cornell, Jacob DeCandio, Abigail Harvey, Ahrim Kim, Seth LaChance, Shea McGee, Abigail Miglorie, Jahnathan Mitchell, Daniel Pearson, Brian Pitts, Kaitlynn Protivansky, Alexandra Reedy, Jacob Rice, Brian Riker, Matthew Sanborn, Lylly Yakunovich, Shuman Zhang.