Pacelli graduates 100th class

Published 9:33pm Wednesday, June 5, 2013

One by one, the graduates of Pacelli High School accepted their diplomas Wednesday night and turned to face wild applause from the crowd filling St. Augustine Church.

“No matter the person or circumstance, we had faith in each other,” said salutatorian Paige Smith during her address.

Twenty-one Pacelli seniors made up Pacelli’s 100th graduating class. They entered the church amid flashes from digital cameras and smiling relatives, while the church organ played “Pomp and Circumstance.” About 225 people watched from the pews.

During her speech, valedictorian Amanda Enstad thanked the many people in her life who had helped her reach graduation. She reflected on how near the students were to finally choosing a career path, something they had been preparing for the whole time they were students at Pacelli.

“The pressure to come up with a realistic answer is growing,” she said.

Being happy, having the opportunity to travel and making a difference were more important than whatever career path a person might choose, Enstad said.

“What you want to become isn’t nearly as important as who you become,” she said.

Both Enstad and Smith, as student speakers, acknowledged their classmates as the friends who helped get them through both the good times and bad. Smith said Pacelli had become a second home to her.

“Half the time, I forgot that it’s even a school,” she said.

Commencement speaker Mary Holtorf, Pacelli’s vice president and a 1984 graduate of the school, said watching the class of 2013 depart was bittersweet. She encouraged the students and their families to continue to learn, serve others and experience God’s love going forward.

“I have probably called Pacelli home for the majority of my life,” Holtorf said, adding she started at the school in third grade. “I have learned some valuable lessons in this journey.”

She shared her advice with the graduates, which included picking good role models, learning from mistakes and being there for others.

“Nobody’s life is a cakewalk,” she said. “Every one of us struggles for something.”

President Lori Walz reminded graduates the ceremony was a new beginning, in addition to the end of their time at Pacelli.

“As we go forward, remember that graduation is also called commencement,” she said. “They are not only seizing the day, they are seizing the rest of their lives.”

Before diplomas were presented, Holtorf took a moment to recognize the 11 students who had attended Pacelli since kindergarten with the Alpha/Omega Awards. Pacelli introduced the award in 2009, when four students received it.

“We’ve planted the seed and we want that to grow,” Holtorf said.

During the Pacelli Concert Choir’s performance of “Seize the Day,” graduates in the choir joined younger students to sing. After, the graduates led with their own piece, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Already Home.”

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