HYANNIS — All 69 graduating seniors at St. John Paul II High School were born in this millennium.
“So you live in a world that we didn’t,” said Christopher W. Keavy, the school’s president, during Monday night’s graduation ceremony.
Keavy said that world — one not defined by the so-called “post 9/11” experience or a sense of progress associated with the election of a black president — will be fraught with its own unique set of challenges.
“Of course we cannot and have not prepared you specifically for the vast polarity of views, perspectives, attitudes, ideologies, dispositions and movements that you will encounter,” he said. “But what we have done … is prepared you in a different way — through conservation.”
Graduating senior Madelyn Wojciechowski delivered the commencement address prior to Keavy’s remarks. Several years ago, the school gave students the opportunity to apply to give the graduation commencement address — a process judged by a panel of staff, parents and board members, Keavy said.
Invoking Emily Dickinson’s “Hope is the Thing with Feathers,” Wojciechowski spoke about a pivotal time as a high school freshman trying out for the varsity soccer team that first tested her willpower and ability to preserve.
After training hard to make the team, she described the moment when she learned that she hadn’t made either the varsity or junior varsity.
“In that moment, I felt broken,” she said. “The thought that I wasn’t good enough entered my head.”
Wojciechowski said the disappointment pushed her to work harder. A week later, she moved up to the junior varsity team.
She summarized her address as touching on the “hope for the future, sadness for the memories and gratitude for her school.”
Wojciechowski, as did Keavy, frequently alluded to her belief in God. The school’s mission statement says it is an educational ministry of the Diocese of Fall River that embodies the gospel of Jesus Christ and teaches the faith and practices of the Catholic Church.
“Today we, the Class of 2019, stand on the stage for the next chapter of our lives to begin,” Wojciechowski said. “If there is anything we have learned it is that God has a plan for us.”