DANVERS — St. John’s Preparatory School graduated 272 seniors at their 108th commencement exercises on Sunday morning, with speakers sharing how their experiences at the school helped them develop into the men they are today.
Class of 2018 graduates included young men from Lynn, Lynnfield, Marblehead, Nahant, Peabody, Saugus and Swampscott.
St. John’s, a Catholic Xaverian Brothers sponsored secondary school for young men, which is committed to educating the whole person, enrolls students from approximately 80 area communities.
Valedictorian John D. Dwortz, of Marblehead, said students are not one-dimensional and neither is their education. He spoke about his psychology teacher, who took the time to talk to students like human beings, not just students to be molded, or another teacher who decided an episode of Doctor Who could teach them about social justice.
Dwortz said if the graduates were not careful, they could be fooled into thinking their successes were due to their actions alone. They might forget every time they were inspired by a teacher, or parents who got up for them and came home late, taking on extra shifts at work.
Those are the people, he said, who have sacrificed more to make the graduates’ successes happen than they have ever had to. He said the graduates should thank those people because without them, they would not be where they are today.
Class speaker Matthew Tighe, of Reading, spoke about how he’s grown into the T-shirt he was given on the first day of his freshman orientation, comparing the graduates’ growth into filling out those shirts to the moments and challenges at St. John’s that helped to develop them into the men they are today.
Social studies teacher Timothy Broderick, a 2005 graduate of St. John’s and the student-selected faculty speaker, delivered the commencement address.
Broderick said he remembers his grandfather’s hands, thick, bent, strong with bulging veins and crooked fingers, hands that have done things, survived the Great Depression and fought in the second World War.
When he was young, his grandfather would ask him to shake his hand, and his hand would disappear into his. Broderick said he knew that for him to be a man, he would need strong hands like his grandfather’s.
He recalled the first day of his freshman year at St. John’s, which he said was one of the worst days of his life. He had to lug his books across campus, which wouldn’t fit in his bag.
When he finally got to his locker across campus and started to lighten his load a bit with putting books away, he said another student informed him that it was actually his locker.
So, he had to carry the extra books that wouldn’t fit in his bag again. While running late for class, someone bumped into him on campus in the middle of the road, which sent his books tumbling, but when he went to pick them up, the weighted bag on his back slipped forward, making it impossible to pick them up.
Kids stepped all over his books and he was lost beneath them and Broderick recalls starting to cry, wanting to go home, leave St. John’s and never come back. But eventually he began to pick up his books, then noticed another hand picking them up with him, and he was staring at a much older kid.
Broderick said he’ll always remember what that young man did for him.
In his senior year, Broderick said his grandfather had a stroke, and when he shook his hand in the hospital, he discovered his hands were stronger than his grandfather’s, which began to make him wonder if strong hands were what made a man.
Broderick said the young man who helped him on campus had inexperienced and young hands, much like the graduates, but in that moment, his action made him a man, much like his grandfather, who through taking the time to shake his hand as a kid, made him feel that his life was significant.
Going forward, he said the graduates will have a chance to be a man, and to make somebody remember their hands.
“True strength exists in the desire to reach out, to help someone off the ground,” he said. “You have the ability to do so. Do so.”
Headmaster Edward P. Hardiman urged the graduates to manifest hope in everything they do and everywhere they go.
“I invite you to actively discern how you can be hope for others,” he said. “What I am asking is not solely my inspiration. It is the fundamental essence of Catholic Christianity, the foundation of the St. John’s Prep experience. You are called to be hope for others. And the more you listen to that call, the more you will change the world.”
The list of St. John’s Preparatory School graduates from Lynn, Lynnfield, Marblehead, Nahant, Peabody, Saugus and Swampscott. (Awards follow student’ names and the * denotes membership in the national honor society.)
Ian Michael Marsters
Kairo D. Ovalle
Jake Richard Valeri *
Jacob Matthew Bolger *
Jon Busa *
David Alexander Collins
Connor Michael Duggan *
Collin Dunlee Fabbri
Mario Grasso III
Trent Woosauk Han *
Thomas Wesley Martin, Jr. *
Shane Daniel O’Brien *
Michael Peter Prokopis *
Matthew Robert Relihan
John Wykoff Schumer
John Robert Skelley
Owen Lee Viles
Charles Francis Ahern IV *
Walker Thompson Anderson *
Griffin William Atkinson *
Andrew Ireland Dearborn *, Religious Studies Award
Robert Wesley Dinsmore *
David Joseph Ducharme *
John David Dwortz * Valedictorian, Academic Excellence
Cole Alexander Erskine *
John Tully Gold *, Science Award
Timothy Gregory Honan *
Robert Michael McCloskey
Jared Murray Neuss *
Nicholas Mark Pocharski, Academic Excellence
Andrew James Ponsetto *
Jack William Rieckelman *
Samuel Lewis Rizos *
George Minott Rowe *
Patrick Marshall Sweetnam *, Athletic Director’s Award
Oliver Michael Zmetrovich *
Benjamin Phelps Hunt *
Felix Luebken, Art 2-D Award
Aidan K. McCool *
Sebastian Arango *
Michael Robert Bain, Jr. *
Alex Michael Batsinelas *
Cameron Arcangelo Buckley *
Raymond Patrick Carter *
Joshua R. Cerretani *
James Lucas Dean
Benjamin Thomas Healey
Nathan Cedric Hobbs
Colin John Lomasney *
Tyler Alton MacGregor
Neal Bartley Mahoney *, Academic Excellence
Maximilian Sage Rodriguez
Shuheng Wang (From Peabody and Beijing, China)
Alexander Christopher Winters, German Award, Science Award
Robert James Crowley
Thomas Randell Sparages *
Youssef Patrick Baba
Andrew George Carr *, Salutatorian, Academic Excellence
Callan Michael Carr *
John Fitzgerald Currie *
Benjamin Evans Gramling *
Christopher Henry Legere *
Jonas Conrad Schultz *, Social Studies Award