Commencement 2016: Excitement, Family, Challenges


Staff Writer

The Class of 2016–all 203 of them–had quite a day on Saturday, May 28.  From the processional to the homily to the speeches from their classmates, the excitement and enthusiasm built and built  and then spilled over in the post-graduation Senior Send-off sponsored by their parents.


At 9:30 the official program began.  As the NDA band played, the seniors strolled through the center of the new gym filled with several thousand friends and family members. With music from the choir and a homily by Abbot Gary Neville the graduates shared their last NDA mass as a class.


Commencement exercises followed almost immediately as English teacher Stefanie Jochman introduced a stage full of board members and administrators.  Valedictorian Nicholas Shade and salutatorian Christian Zimonick received well-earned accolades, and the blue-gowned graduates paraded across the stage to the hoots and hollers of their supporters.


Perhaps the highlight of the graduation ceremony were the speeches by graduates Alma Torres and Emily Gerlikovski.  A well-kept secret, the two speakers were selected for the honor by a panel of teachers and students.  They did not disappoint.


Torres looked back on the graduates’ four years at NDA.  She recounted accomplishments by class members and multiple “inside jokes” relevant to the graduates.

She closed her speech saying, like fellow graduates, she would take three particular statements with her:

  1. “Remember who you are and where you come from,” a favorite reminder from Principal John Ravizza;
  2. “You’re worth it,” a regular Friday-morning sign-off from former president Bob Pauley; and
  3. “Jesus is waiting for you,” the words of Campus Minister Daniel Kriegl when she would walk into the Campus Ministry Office.


Gerlikovski’s speech was the looking-ahead speech.  She compared living life to writing stories and called high school “the first book in a series.” 

“But now,” she continued, “it is up to us to continue on with the story. . .to write an amazing future for ourselves.”

She concluded by challenging her fellow graduates “to make it a bestselling sequel.”