The end to a new beginning

What you missed at the 2019 senior graduation


Teacher of the Year Ms. Lisa Wilson smiles with former A.P. Biology students Abbey Roegner (left) and Katie Bullock (right) one final time after the 2019 graduation ceremony. Photo used with permission from Diane Roegner

“The closing of this chapter commences the opening of the next book,” said senior class officer Alley Neary. “This book is the rest of our lives.”

The parents were seated, the graduates wore their white dresses, and the diplomas were ready. As the senior class of 2019 sat for the four year-anticipated event, their hearts raced. Four years of late night study sessions, last minute coffee runs, finals, five-paragraph essays, and colored kilts at last led to the moment of their graduation on June 2, 2019.

After words from Mercy’s Chair of the Board of Trustees Nancy A. Auffenberg, Fr. Jerry Brzezinski shared a prayer with the graduates. Fr. Jerry encouraged the young women to reflect on the general message from a variety of religions, and to realize that there is one consistent underlying message: treat others as yourself. The golden rule is something emphasized through all religions, and it is no exception to Catholicism.

“No matter where you look that is the message you receive,” said Fr. Jerry. “Follow that message.”

After Fr. Jerry, principal Mrs. Patricia Sattler also shared similar words. Comparing the way society teaches this generation to beat themselves down to the lyrics of hit song “Broken” by lovelytheband, Mrs. Sattler instructed graduates to ignore this underlying message, and embrace what they can accomplish. Mrs. Sattler noted that the 2019 graduates are, in fact, not broken, but ready to thrive as they approach these upcoming years.

“I think it is so important to give a message of self empowerment,” said junior Gabby Pluszczynski. “She made the seniors understand what they are capable of as they embark on their next chapter.”

President Dr. Cheryl Kreger followed Mrs. Sattler in words of self encouragement in speaking on behalf of the class of 2019’s accomplishments. She highlighted that despite the small  number of students in the class, they have achieved great things. From their high number of service hours to the amount of scholarship money they were offered, the class of 2019 clearly illustrates the excellence Mercy strives to achieve.

After Dr. Kreger’s moving reflection, the Class Address was given by Salutatorian Sophie VanderWeele. VanderWeele “crunched the numbers” for her speech. She illustrated the amount of time that senior class had together, working hard in class, or even in the cafe, stating that the class of 2019 had spent over 500,000 hours driving to school since their freshman year. VanderWeele wanted to highlight the importance of the immense time the graduates had spent together, despite eventually going their separate ways.

Valedictorian Casey Stoneback took a different approach when speaking on behalf of her class in the Class Farewell. Stoneback compared going through high school to biology, a subject she knows extremely well as she is planning to study biochemical engineering at the Univ. of Michigan. Stoneback compared high school to evolution, illustrating that people eventually find their most successful traits during this time. She pointed out that this evolutionary process creates the ideal community.

After Associate Principal Colleen McMaster announced the graduates, Teacher of the Year Mrs. Lisa Wilson gave a final farewell address to the class of 2019. She talked about the class’s “default positions”, the places in and out of school the graduates naturally gravitated towards. She encouraged them to abandon their “inner beast” and challenge themselves to find new positions. Since she does not allow negativity in her classroom, she told them not to allow negativity affect in their lives.

From the white dresses to the red roses, Mercy’s graduation is built on tradition,

“It is kind of just like Mercy itself, built on tradition but uniquely changed by every class that passes through,” said graduating senior Hannah McDermott.