Pacelli honors Class of ’09

Published 10:08 am Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fourteen students sat side-by-side for the last time as a class Wednesday.

Pacelli High School held its 96th commencement ceremony at Queen of Angels Catholic Church in a night of tears, laughter, prayer and excitement.

This year’s graduates are: Julia Bertemes, Dawn Blake, Stephanie Holtorf, Ji Hoon Kim, Alycia Newago, Elizabeth Nye, Harley Prentis, Emily Rysavy, Krisit Sager, Alejandra Salazar, Colin Sheehan, Chris Spainhower, Nate Williamson and Cynthia Zarate.

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The small class is actually two students larger than last year, director Mary Holtorf said Wednesday, and she expects about 20 in 2010.

Commencement included an invocation, given by Father Dale Tupper of Queen of Angels, and a benediction, given by Father Joe Fogal of St. Augustine and St. Edward Catholic churches; an inspirational message from former teacher Jared Peterson; and musical selections by the Pacelli Choir.

Valedictorian Kristi Sager and salutatorians Julia Bartemes and Stephanie Holtorf gave speeches.

Mary Holtorf also presented five seniors with the Alpha-Omega Award: The group had spent each year of school — from beginning (alpha) to end (omega) — with Austin Catholic Schools. The award went to Bartemes, Holtorf, Dawn Blake, Emily Rysavy and Colin Sheehan.

The director praised the graduating class for their uniqueness.

“They work together pretty well as a team, though,” she said.

Mary Holtorf said 95 percent of the class has made plans for post-graduation; two will enter the National Guard and then eventually college, and the rest will seek higher education. She said Pacelli strives to instill in its students the importance of attending college.

“We plant that seed all the time,” she said. “In the world we are living in today, kids just need college.”

Commencement was a happy moment with smiles, family photos and lasting memories, but also a bittersweet one, however. Although the class roster says 14, there should have been one more tassel turned.

Kellsey Hogan, their former classmate, died in a moped accident Aug. 30, 2006. A bouquet of flowers was laid in her place on the pew at graduation. Seniors wore pins with angel-winged frogs, which Hogan loved. Graduates signed a display memorializing Hogan in the church entryway.

“That was a moment I think that brought them together more tightly,” Mary Holtorf said of Hogan’s death at age 15. “I just think teenagers don’t think they are ever going to die.”

“We have gone through different things, but we persevere,” her daughter and graduate Stephanie Holtorf said in her speech. “It’s tragic that it took the loss of a loved one to bring us together.”