Montville - While addressing the St. Bernard School's Class of 2012 Friday night at the Cathedral of St. Patrick, Class Orator Frankie Ann Marcille said the best way to describe her graduating class "can be summarized in one small word - family."
Seventy-three graduates from the private Catholic school listened intently to the first speech from their pews inside the Norwich cathedral. The female graduates were dressed in red caps and gowns while the male graduates wore gray.
"To me, St. Bernard has been so much more than just an academic, athletic, and spiritual journey," Marcille said in her speech, adding later, "What sets us apart from any other community is the integration of faith and morals into the standard academic classes, which radiates from the faculty and students. Because of this, school became more than just the place I went to learn every day. It became a place I was genuinely passionate about because of the family atmosphere."
In her speech, Marcille remembered beloved English teacher Marie-Pierre Diana - "Ms. Pam" to all - who passed away in 2010 due to complications from lung surgery. As she described what a positive force Ms. Pam was to the students, many in the class either nodded in agreement or wiped away tears.
Senior class President Allison Londregan told the audience about a conversation she'd had weeks ago with a faculty member at the school, who told her she would be sad to leave come graduation day.
Londregan said "sad" was not the right word.
"What I am is excited, a bit nervous, and more than anything, thankful," she said.
Londregan then rattled off the personal traits of a few of her classmates, including as one with an unparalleled ability to doodle and one who always seemed to need of a pen.
"The purpose of this (is) to get the point across that St. Bernard truly is a community," she said. "In most schools, you probably wouldn't even know everybody's name in your class, yet here I am able to say with complete honesty that not only do I know all of your names, but all of you have added a little something to my life, and I can only hope I have had even the slightest positive impact on your life."
Graduating senior Caila Martindale said after the ceremony that she was "excited," and will be attending Becker College in the fall to study veterinary science.
Ninety-six percent of St. Bernard's graduating class will go to college. Three students will join the military.
THE CLASS OF 2012 AT ST. BERNARD SCHOOL
Colchester: Blake Biancamano, Kaitlyn Cole, Tara Kowalski, Timothy Lathrop; East Haddam: Kyle Vallieres;
East Lyme: Kathryn Brahm;
Essex: Susan Kusmierski;
Gales Ferry: Meagan Allen, Jacqueline Csisar, Jeffrey Merlo;
Griswold: Kyra Coughlin;
Groton: Philip Horner, Joshua Martinez;
Hampton: Shannen Haraghey, Justin Perkins- Ollila;
Ledyard: Jerel Gatchalian, Andrew Hamel;
Marlborough: Brianna Alexandre;
Mashantucket: Cherri Williams;
Mystic: Frankie Ann Marcille, Alexa Sauchuk, Maryjocelyn Sedensky;
New London: Bianca Alexis, Sarah Bentley, Rivkah Berkman, Julia Costello, Ellen Mador, Shannon McManus, Patrick Regan, William Ryan-Johnson, Kyra Scannelli, Nora Sternlof, Alicia Vallario;
North Stonington: Brittany Buck, Matthew Russell;
North Windham: Rebecca Baldasty and Abram Doubleday Bush;
Norwich: Kaitlin Baillargeon, Zhenhuan Fan, Gabrielle Nieves, Kayla Paris, Matthew Surprenant;
Oakdale: Mary Kate Bassett, Daniel Gehan, Melissa Halloran, Alexander Johnson, Jared Kobyluck;
Old Lyme: Isabella Abare-Brown, Elijah Kuhn, Ryan Leary, Allison Londregan; Plainfield: Kenneth Brooks;
Putnam: Daniel Arundel, Lindsey Franklin;
Quaker Hill: Avery Barlow, Bryan Brennan;
Stonington: Francis Bove, Mackenzie Gagne, Jacqueline Johnson;
Thompson: Daniel Jezierski;
Uncasville: Jessica Hester, Olivia Jenkins, Jonathan Malchiodi;
Waterford: Vincenzo Denniston, Sean Hurley, Anthony Munton, Emma Theiler; Westbrook: Marian Camperchioli, Caila Martindale;
Willimantic: Robert Daly;
Windham: Sarah Kassman, Ryan O'Connor;
Woodstock Valley: Emma Northridge.