‘Learning is change’: Pacelli High School seniors graduate

Published 7:53 am Thursday, June 6, 2019

The only thing brighter than the painted stars inside St. Augustine’s Catholic Church, was the future for the 13 Pacelli High School seniors who graduated Wednesday night.

Underneath the the bright  arches of the church, families and friends of the graduating seniors gathered to witness their rite of passage from high school. When many entered school, they were children. Now, they’re young adults ready to take on the world.

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Throughout the evening, speakers took to the front of the church and addressed the class of 2019, including Principal Jean McDermott, who congratulated the seniors on the end of their high school careers.

“Don’t cry because it’s over,” McDermott said. “Smile, because it happened … you have made it.”

Guest speaker Linda Pulchinski, who graduated from Pacelli in 1969 and is a retired Pacelli teacher, assured students that no matter where they journeyed in life, their connections to the high school would be the ties that bonded them.

Pacelli senior Mason Holtorf gives a reading during the school’s commencement Wednesday night at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“Tonight is the night to look to the past, anticipate the future and enjoy the present,” Pulchinksi said. “We need to remember, wherever there is truth, beauty, newness, creativity, laughter or love, there is an awesome God … may the light of God surround you, may the love of God enfold you, may the presence of God watch over you, may the power of God protect you. Wherever you are, God is.”

Dean of Students Laura Mareel recounted the lessons that were taught to students in the graduating class. She remembered how many of the students had called her “mom” over the years, and felt challenged in saying goodbye to the students she had established relationships with.

“Learning is change,” Mareel said. “Learning has to change you … your last assignment from Pacellis is to learn from your experiences for the rest of your life. Try to learn from that. Life is way too short now to learn from your experiences.”

Before walking up to receive their diplomas, student speaker Kayla Christopherson fought back tears as she shared a memory of each of her fellow graduates. Whether it was about bonfires, jumping into a pool fully clothed, pulling pranks or even just supporting one another through the tough times, Christopherson recounted how each person impacted her journey through Pacelli.

Although the paths in life they take may be different from this point forward, she expressed that because of their experiences together, Pacelli would always be the ties that connected them.

“We are a small class, but we are a family,” Christopherson said. “We did it together.”