Goretti graduates told to seek truth

  • St. Maria Goretti High School graduate Melissa Hilleary has her mortarboard adjusted by classmate Ellie Harrell Saturday prior to the school's commencement ceremony.
Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

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    HAGERSTOWN -- The St. Maria Goretti High School class of 2010 gathered at 1 p.m. Saturday for a baccalaureate mass and commencement exercises.

    Goretti president Monica DesJarlais knew the 49 graduates were eager to receive their diplomas. But before they did, she wanted them to have one last parting gift.

    "This graduation is unique because it is being held here in this Catholic church," DesJarlais said. "There are many meanings of the word baccalaureate, but one of them is 'sermon.' So it is fitting that graduates from this Catholic high school hear one more sermon."

    Father Larry Rock preached the homily, challenging graduates to seek truth "even when it is not acceptable or politically correct."

    "I ask you only this," Rock said. "Seek the truth and don't settle for anything less. Come to know the truth. The truth is the discovery of the one who never fails us, the one we can always trust. The truth is a person -- Jesus Christ."


Graduating senior Charlotte Riggs of Hagerstown sang "Ave Maria" as part of the communion rite. Later in the ceremony, Goretti principal Richard E. Fairley awarded Riggs the Pro Deo et Patria medal. Staff and faculty had chosen Riggs as the winner based on criteria including compassion, pursuit of excellence, dedication and fortitude.

Riggs plans to attend Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio majoring in mathematics, and to eventually earn a doctorate in statistics.

"Attending Goretti has been wonderful. It's such a family atmosphere. Our class is so close," Riggs said.

School drama director Bonnie Pratt introduced class of 2010 valedictorian Daniel Rost. Pratt lauded Rost's many achievements, having the highest grade point average in his class, completing 795 hours of community service and lettering in three varsity sports among them.

"Even we adults, when we grow up, would like to be like Daniel Rost," Pratt said.

Drawing on a quote from Robert Frost, Rost's valedictory address focused on Goretti as "the right place for growth."

During his speech, he referenced shared experiences and inside jokes with his classmates, frequently causing them to break out in giggles. He thanked staff and faculty for allowing his class "to grow spiritually and academically."

"One day when you are working as successful actors, athletes, business men and women, doctors, lawyers, whatever you choose to do," Rost told his classmates, "no matter where you go, I hope you will look back and see that Goretti has been the right place for growth. I don't know where it was more likely to go better."

Rost has been accepted to Pennsylvania State University to study finance.

Fairley said the graduating class has been awarded around $5.8 million in scholarships from various entities.

Fairley presented the Distinguished Alumnus Award to FOX News Channel co-anchor and correspondent Kelly Wright. Wright also is an ordained minister and gospel recording artist. He briefly addressed the graduates, ending his remarks with an a cappella song.

"Don't ever let your living be in vain," Wright sang.

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