St. Mary’s honored the Class of 2018 at the school’s 114th Commencement Exercises on May 24, 2018.
Dean of Academics & Curriculum, Mr. Junik led the ceremony, introducing Mr. Fay to give the Invocation. Class President, Shae Antonicelli, then gave an inspiring address, relating students’ time at St. Mary’s to the process of putting together a puzzle. Each year, the end picture starts to get clearer thanks to the help of the St. Mary’s faculty and the friends met along the way. Valedictorian, Chelsea Okon also addressed the nearly 900-person crowd with a speech that focused on how the millennial generation, while considered underdogs, has the power to change the world.
At graduation, St. Mary’s also presents the Marian Award, which is the highest honor bestowed upon a Lancer. The award goes to the graduating senior who displays qualities unmatched by their peers in kindness, service, and what it means to be a Lancer. This year’s Marian Award winner was Andrew Wargo. Andrew can always be found on-campus, even after graduation, as the “go-to” guy for just about everything. He DJs dances, runs clubs (like Lancer First Responders), emcees sporting events, leads Campus Ministry, and makes the day brighter for everyone he interacts with. St. Mary’s will undoubtedly miss his presence next year.
The names of the graduates were read, and students walked across the stage, accepting their diplomas from Mr. Junik, Board Chair, Mr. Fiume, and Head of School, Mr. Kelleher. The Class of 2018 moved their tassels, tossed their caps in the air, and entered the world as St. Mary’s alumni.
The graduates and their families were then able to take part in an after-party on the front lawn to chat, take some photos, and eat at one of the four food trucks present.
The Class of 2018 is comprised of 88 graduates—88 students who left their mark on St. Mary’s, making our school a better place because they were here. Congratulations, Class of 2018!
Earlier this year, students in the Marian Chapter of the National Honor Society decided to raise money for Make-A-Wish Western New York through different fundraising activities and decorated folders for wish kids going on trips, meeting celebrities, and doing other fun things! Our Lancers are doing some great things in the community! Special thanks to Make-A-Wish Development Coordinator Laura Nutty who came out to meet our kids and accept the donations!
On May May 17, 2018, the top three students from schools around WNY were honored at the Erie-Niagara Schools Superintendents Association Scholastic Achievement Dinner. The best and brightest of the Class of 2018 represented St. Mary’s tonight, and we are so proud of them! From left to right: Ryan Tytka (third highest overall GPA), Chelsea Okon (Valedictorian), and Shannon Murty (Salutatorian).
Villa Maria College held its 24th annual High School Photography Exhibition on May 10, 2018. Students in grades 9-12 submitted their photography for judgement and presentation in the gallery. This year, 275 pieces were submitted, of which 150 were accepted. In her first year participating, junior Alyssa LaMartina submitted a picture she took of the Buffalo Central Terminal’s main concourse window and received one of only 10 honorable mention awards! Keep an eye out for her work in the Glens Falls Art Festival the last weekend of July, the Lewiston Art Festival on August 11th and 12th, and in The Marian Gazette each month! Congratulations, Alyssa!
On May 3, 2018, the Lancaster Youth Bureau Hall of Fame was flooded by Lancers. Four members of the Class of 2018 were inducted into the prestigious organization. St. Mary’s sends its sincerest congratulations to: Stephanie Baran, Jake Fay, Joe Flading, and Chelsea Okon on being among the Youth Bureau Hall of Fame’s newest members.
Baran is a member of the Marian Chapter of the National Honor Society, Student Senate, participates in the St. Mary’s musical and other performing arts, runs track, and challenges herself with many AP courses. Fay is also a member of the National Honor Society, was captain of the wrestling team, also participates in the performing arts, and takes on a challenging course load. The Lancer wrestlers are well represented in this Hall of Fame class, as Flading was also a senior captain on the team. He also runs Cross Country and takes his academic work very seriously. Okon is consistently at the top of the academic ranks in her class, president of NHS, and very involved in dance inside and outside of St. Mary’s.
These four seniors will be greatly missed by the St. Mary’s community!
Each spring brings forth a renewed spirit and sense of excitement for the season that lies ahead. In keeping with this zest for the season, the faculty and staff of St. Mary’s High School in Lancaster recently participated in the school’s annual Day of Caring. Guided by the Franciscan tradition’s call to service, half of the school’s faculty and staff spent a day at St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy, while the Buffalo City Mission hosted the other half of the staff.
The Head of School at St. Mary’s, Mr. Kevin Kelleher, wants to ensure St. Mary’s students develop a well-rounded sense of self throughout their time at the school. “One of the main virtues we want our kids to value at St. Mary’s is that sense of service,” Kelleher said. “We want our students to experience the amazing feeling you get when you give to others, and it is important for us, as teachers and administrators, to give of our time and talents as well.”
While at St. Luke’s, the St. Mary’s contingent unboxed and organized hundreds of gloves to be donated to those in need. Then, over at the Buffalo City Mission, staff members did various tasks throughout the day.
St. Mary’s plans to make these days of service a staple on their school calendar, for both faculty and students alike. “There are so many great organizations in Buffalo that serve some type of population in need or serve a deserving cause,” Kelleher continued. “We have a platform to work with these organizations that are so vital to our community and show our kids they can make a difference. That’s the power of learning through experiences in and out of the classroom.” St. Mary’s plans to start a Lancer Volunteer Corps. next year, where interested students will go to various places each month, volunteering their time to help those in need under the guidance of the school’s Campus Minister, Deacon Robb Ciezki.
Bishop Richard Malone presided over Mass at St. Mary’s High School on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 in celebration of the school’s Easter liturgy.
The bishop was joined by four other priests, Father Ryszard, and Deacon Robb Ciezki, St. Mary’s Campus Minister and religion teacher, on the altar. St. Mary’s students, faculty, staff, administration, Board of Trustees, and parents made up the congregation. Two visiting priests, Msgr. David LiPuma ’78 and Fr. Bob Gebhard ’75 are also St. Mary’s alumni. Seminary and St. Mary’s alumnus, Bob Owczarzak ’02 was also able to join us for the Bishop Mass.
St. Mary’s students were thrilled to have Bishop Malone as their special guest at Mass: “Having the bishop actually at our school, celebrating Easter Mass like this, just adds a different level of excitement to the liturgy and really engages the students in the service,” said Andrew Wargo, a senior and student leader of the school’s Campus Ministry group.
The bishop was impressed with the participation and enthusiasm of the St. Mary’s student body in welcoming him and during the liturgy itself. In his homily, Bishop Malone talked about the importance of today’s youth having a meaningful relationship with God, saying, “It is in His [Jesus’] message that we find hope, joy, and courage, and ultimately salvation, you can’t find anywhere else.”
Head over to the St. Mary’s High School Facebook page for even more photos!