Goretti grads told to remember Lord


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HAGERSTOWN - Fifty-one students graduated Saturday from St. Maria Goretti High School during a baccalaureate Mass and commencement at St. Ann Church.

Family and friends filled the expansive sanctuary for a celebration replete with ornate vocal and instrumental music as well as the rich traditions of the Catholic church.

The ceremony began with a flute and violin prelude by Dondi Ellis Jr. and Ethan Hawver, members of the graduating class and the Goretti Cumberland Valley School of Music Ensemble.


After the customary "Pomp and Circumstance," Goretti President William McKinley greeted the crowd and the Most Rev. W. Francis Malooly proceeded with the Liturgy of the Word.

Malooly said he wanted to surprise those in attendance by giving less than 90 seconds of direction to graduates during his homily. He reminded the graduates of St. Paul's advice to the Philippians in the Bible.

"St. Paul told them, 'Have no anxiety because the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds. Keep on doing what you have learned and received,'" Malooly said.

He reminded the graduates to do likewise, and advised them to "continue to rely on the Lord's presence."

Commencement followed Mass. Jay Heefner, director of guidance, introduced valedictorian Gabriella "Gabi" Schiro. Heefner highlighted Schiro's 5.0 grade-point average and her solid College Board test scores, as well as her considerable involvement in Goretti activities, perhaps most notably in the theater.

Appropriately, Schiro, 17, of Hagerstown, opened her valedictory address with a dramatic reading from "Pippin."

"Pippin wants to show the world that he is an extraordinary human being," Schiro explained. "He must make a choice between love and a magical, spectacular career. ... Every person is like Pippin."

Schiro drew an analogy between Pippin's choice and the choice each of the graduates will need to make. She called upon the students - musicians, athletes and calculus enthusiasts among them - to seize their passions.

"Each of us must take the passion that lives within us and create something beautiful," she said. "Remember, never lose your passion."

The crowd responded with a standing ovation.

Schiro plans to study drama and psychology at Gettysburg (Pa.) College and pursue a career in drama therapy.

Christopher Siedor presented the Pro Deo et Patria - For God and Country - award to Gabrielle Turano. Siedor said the award is based upon a student being "an outstanding person." In choosing the winner, teachers considered characteristics such as mentorship, purity of mind, dedication and fortitude, and courage to do the right thing.

The ceremony ended with a musical reflection by the Goretti choir and a "Trumpet Voluntary" recessional.

Sandra Maina, 17, of Hagerstown, said graduation felt "surreal."

"I still feel like a part of the school. I hope everyone succeeds in life," Maina said. "We'll go our separate ways, but we'll still be together in spirit."

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