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Norwich — The St. Bernard School graduation ceremonies Friday evening marked not only a milestone for the 55 seniors, but also significant passages for two school faculty, Headmaster Thomas Doherty III and English teacher Arthur Lamoureux.
"My time here has been amazing," said Doherty, who came to the Uncasville school in 2011 and is credited with helping to stabilize finances and build enrollment. Doherty announced in January that he would leave at the end of the academic year to take a job at a Catholic school closer to his home in Massachusetts.
"Just remember," he told the graduates, a cluster of crimson-and-gray caps and gowns in the front pews at the Cathedral of St. Patrick as their parents, siblings and grandparents filled the rest of the majestic space, "wherever you go, you will always be Saints."
He concluded his remarks by presenting Lamoureux, who graduated from St. Bernard in 1962 and then taught there for 46 years, with an honorary diploma, making him the 56th member of the Class of 2014.
"It seems to me that if you go to high school for 50 years," Doherty said, "you ought to have more than just one diploma."
The audience gave Lamoureux a standing ovation as he approached the altar to receive the diploma from Doherty.
Student speaker Justin Bell of Mystic credited his time at St. Bernard with teaching him to value his passions and those of others.
"I have learned that passion is not a flame, but a treasure," he said. "St. Bernard has supplied me with a map to that treasure. This did not come from the course material I learned, or the grades I received. It came from the friends I've made, and the teachers I was lucky to have had."
The school, he said, gave him the tools to accomplish his goal of making his mark on the world.
"Thank you to all my friends, teachers and classmates for all you've given me," he said. "It will not be wasted or forgotten."
The graduating seniors hailed from 22 Eastern Connecticut communities as well as two cities in China. Two of the graduates came from Beijing, and one was from Taiyuan, part of a contingent of 34 international students at the school this year.
After each student received his or her diploma, the bishop of Norwich, the Most Rev. Michael R. Cote, challenged them not to neglect their faith and to heed a message delivered by Pope Francis "to learn to be magnanimous."
"Magnanimity is the virtue of the great and the small," Cote said. "It means to have a great heart, greatness of mind, great ideas and a wish to do great things in response to what God asks of us. It also means doing the routine, the little everyday things, with a great heart."
Canterbury: Kaleb Violette
Colchester: Jamie Cole, Nicholas Edwards, Richard Falvey, John Gannon Jr.
East Lyme: Casey Sullivan
Griswold: Talia Coleman, Mackenzie Nagy
Groton: Kevin Tesky
Ledyard: Danielle Guth, Charles Rose, Joseph Stallcop, Matthew Thomas
Mansfield: Natalie Mcphee
Mystic: Justin Bell, Jacob Newsome
New London: Ellen Adams, William Cymbala, Grayce Dyer, Gretchen Greene, Alison Patterson, Deisha Quinones, Allison Regan, Kiely Smith, Mariana Vega
North Stonington: Evan Eldred, Kevin Gazlay
Norwich: Maria Junco, John Markham, Katelyn Mazurkiewicz, Thomas Pietruczuk
Montville: Patrick Halloran, Anthony Malchiodi, Bronsen Robinson, Jessica Xu
Old Lyme: Seamus Fox, Gia Marie Kingston, Kaete Kuhn
Plainfield: Brittney Walenta
Pomfret Center: Megan Pickett
Preston: John Gorman
Stonington: Christopher Renaud
Voluntown: Ryan Dillon, Casimir Woznica
Waterford: Amy Bouchard, Zachary Kuvalanka, Joseph Mariani, Alexa Massad, William Rios, John Satti, Ryan Terracciano
Willimantic: Jaden Pearce
Beijing, China: Yanfu Li, Siyu Xie
Taiyuan, China: Haojun Li