Union Catholic Holds Commencement Ceremonies for the Class of 2018

Union Catholic's Class of 2018 celebrates after graduation Credits: Jim Lambert
Union Catholic's Class of 2018 walks out of school on the way to its graduation ceremony Credits: Jim Lambert
Union Catholic's Class of 2018 graduated on Thursday, May 24, 2018 Credits: Jim Lambert

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Blue caps were sent skyward and jubilant screams echoed through the air outside Union Catholic High School just as the clock struck noon on Thursday.

The Class of 2018 had just completed their graduation ceremony, and the 192 members of the senior class were letting their emotions flow in the school’s parking lot as they celebrated their memorable achievement with classmates, family, friends, and members of the UC faculty.

Union Catholic’s 53rd annual Commencement Ceremony was an emotional, exciting, joyous, uplifting, and reflective event all wrapped together as a huge crowd packed into the school’s gym to honor the Class of 2018 and members of UC’s Class of 1968, who celebrated their 50th anniversary.

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The day was also filled with inspiring, passionate, and heartfelt speeches from Principal Sister Percylee Hart, RSM, UC seniors Janessa Mendoza, who will be attending Georgetown, and Clayton Lee, and Commencement Speaker Father Michael Ward, a member of UC’s Class of 1982 and the current pastor at Immaculate Heart of Mary.

To watch the entire graduation ceremony, go here

Lee, Valedictorian of the Class of 2018, who is headed to Cornell, gave a heartfelt speech and cracked a couple jokes as he addressed his classmates.

We all have dreams. Some of us might want to play professional sports, go into broadcasting, become doctors, win Nobel prizes, or even become a dog food taster. But to be honest, I really don’t know if any of us, 10, 20 years down the road, will realize these dreams. But if you give yourself an opportunity to survive failure, everything will come full circle. Embrace your weaknesses. Embrace your failures. As cliché as it sounds never give up. That’s why you’re here today. Because you didn’t give up. You will find where you are supposed to be as long as you keep on working hard. And don’t forget to believe in yourself and in others. My coaches and teammates accepted me and gave me a chance. They made a great impact on my life. I urge you to do give other people chances as well and have plenty of self-confidence. - Clayton Lee

Principal Sister Percylee Hart delivered a special message to the Class of 2018 with her usual passion and great words of wisdom.

Class of 2018, here at UC, things are better, change abounds and advances have been made because of you,’’ said Sister Percylee. “Your presence will be missed as you take your leave to pursue your college and career goals, but your many contributions will remain as a valued testimony of your talents and gifts so generously shared with the UC Community. - Sister Percylee Hart 

“Your yearbook theme, “Different Rhythms, One Beat” is a nod to a new UC tradition, the UC Blue Harts,’’ said Sister Percylee. “Each of your hearts is unique. Each of your hearts has its own rhythm but we at UC all beat as one. Let your UC Blue Hart forever remind you of your time here and all you have ahead of you. From Proverbs verse 3, I quote: “Let love and faithfulness never leave you. Write them on the tablet of your heart and you will win favor in the sight of God and others.’’ May the spirit of this verse be embraced by you on your journey. Follow your heart! Graduates, I wish you much success and happiness and may God bless you all the days of your lives. Don’t forget to come back to UC. You are always welcomed.’’

Father Michael Ward offered some great advice for the Class of 2018.

You are about to begin on a new faze of your life’s journey,’’ said Father Mike. “A new phase of living out the spiritual, virtual and the real world, something you’ve been trained to do, taught to do, formed to do for these past four years. You will continue to achieve many great things because of the foundation you have received from the love of your parents and family, and the dedication from the faculty and staff and the community here at Union Catholic. The values you have learned of compassion, respect, responsibility, sharing with one another, and the values of honesty, integrity and gratitude will help you to be joyful, to be hopeful and to be grateful. One of the catch phrases at Union Catholic is to be you at UC. You’ve been practicing that for the last four years, now it’s time to go live it. I encourage the Class of 2018 to continue to be joyful, to be hopeful, and to be grateful, and you will indeed succeed. - Father Michael Ward (commencement speaker).

Mendoza, the Student Council President at UC this past school year, gave a passionate speech as she talked about the journey through high school, the friendships that will always remain, and the new journey that awaits. She finished off her speech by taking a selfie with the Class of 2018.

When I was a freshman, my biggest fear was public speaking. I was shy and soft-spoken, overwhelmed at how big UC was compared to St. Matthew School. Now, I’m giving the last speech of graduation. I graduated eighth grade alongside 15 classmates, but four years later, I’m leaving UC with about 200 special friends. Each of our social circles grew as we’ve formed unforgettable relationships both with our peers and our teachers. We’ve grown out of our comfort zone to socialize and develop a unique identity that others would remember us by. We’ve made our own decisions, recognized our strengths and flaws, and controlled our emotions. We’ve grown in self-esteem and freely expressed our opinions. We’ve conquered the pressures of high school – SATs, AP tests, the entire college application process – despite the tears we’ve shed or sleepless nights. We’ve grown in spirituality as we’ve become closer to our faith and showed compassion to others. We are all thriving in our own skin and we’re excited for what college has in store for us. We should be proud of ourselves and our grade for all our accomplishments. We’ve grown physically, mentally, and personally, but the best part is, we haven’t stopped here. We have yet to reach our fullest potential in life. We’ve outgrown high school, but now we’re ready to embark on a new journey in college, and I know each of us will grow to be impactful in the world. And although we may change, remember that some things never change – like the urge to take a selfie to remember important moments. Congratulations to the Class of 2018, and God Bless you all! - Janessa Mendoza

Here's a look at some of the members of the Class of 2018 who received some of the special awards that were handed out during the ceremony:

  • The Spirit Award" Alexander Parillo and Anthea Dagiantis
  • The Michael Marotti Award: Brian Power
  • The Jane Albert Award: Susan Wojcik
  • The School Consultative Board Award: Goldera Surles
  • The Principal’s Award: Janessa Mendoza

Here’s an alphabetical list of Union Catholic Class of 2018, which earned a total of $33,304,558 in scholarships and awards for college. 

  • Christian Anthony Albanese
  • Ahmael Samuel Alexander*^ <
  • Kira Nicole Alexander
  • Mervin Matthew Alexander*
  • Diantae Allen-Closs
  • Joseph Anthony Almeida*^
  • Mateo Jose Almeida Lozada^
  • Kwaku Ampadu^
  • Christopher Patrick Armstrong*^
  • Matthew Banasiak
  • Kyle Bartley
  • Mia Courtney Jones^
  • Elisha Boamah
  • Mia C Boccher*^
  • Jacqueline Elizabeth Bollwage
  • Gina Marie Bratti*^
  • Carrie Lynn Bree*
  • Mary Brezik*^
  • Audrey Briganti^
  • Alexander J. Bulsiewicz*^
  • Justin B. Cadas
  • Nicole Louise Campos*^
  • Anthony Joseph Caprio
  • Sebastian Cardenas
  • Angeline Elizabeth Carlo*^ <
  • Amaya Sierra Chadwick
  • Ruoyu Chen >
  • Jalen William Clark
  • Jasir S. Clark-Washington
  • Lucas Robert Cloppse*^
  • Asiah EL'lauren Cooper
  • Shamar Crawford
  • Drew Allen Cummins
  • Anthea Dagiantis*
  • Lucas F. Danchisko
  • Tabatha DaSilva
  • Anthony Davis, Jr.
  • Kevin Joseph Degnan*^
  • Philip Jean Magloire Derisse*^
  • Isabella Victoria DiDario*^
  • Jeremy DiGesu
  • David Diken
  • Silas J. Donaus
  • Elizabeth Marie Doré
  • Emily Jaye Duggan*
  • Christopher Daniel Erlandsen
  • Ryan J. Evely
  • Briane Marié Ewing
  • Colleen Darcy Falconer*^ <
  • Emily Marie Farrell*^
  • Alyssa Fernandez
  • Ashley M. Ferrigno*
  • Kyle Jon Feste
  • Ethan M. Filiault
  • Danielle Finkelman*
  • Theresa Fiumefreddo*^ <
  • Hannah Nicole Flordeliza
  • Al-Nasir Fogler
  • Brianna T. Frazier <
  • Mackenzie Fuhrmann*^
  • Jiayang Gao
  • Trevor C. Garrity*
  • Sophia Grace Germain
  • Anabella Marie Giacobbe
  • Nicholas Anthony Giuditta IV^
  • Timothy Joseph Glastal*
  • Colleen Elizabeth Glynn
  • Kelli Green*^
  • Ryuichi Cameron Sakamoto Guanlao* <
  • Amanda Nicole Guas
  • Gabrielle Marie Guastamacchia
  • Jillian Rose Hamilton
  • Tori Hayes^
  • Raymond Hernandez
  • John Carmine Iannaccone*^ <
  • Simone Ibarrondo*^
  • Makay R. Johnson <
  • Emily H Jones*^
  • Deirdre Maureen Kelly*^
  • Alexa Rose Kruse
  • Christopher James Kunka
  • Brianna Kunz
  • Tyler Kunz
  • Zachary Kunz^
  • Andrew J. La Manna
  • Clayton Kyle Lee*^
  • Shawn Legros^
  • Jianshu Li
  • XiaoDong Lin
  • Yan Liu
  • Kaitlyn Lowey*^
  • Alivia Luna
  • Ibn Al-Tariq Lynn
  • Brian Malar
  • Simpy Malhotra*^
  • Sophia L. Martinez^
  • Julianna Mastrocola*
  • Jaylah Chanel Matos
  • Rick Romane Maxis^
  • Caitlin McDermott*^
  • Kyra Noel McDevitt^ <
  • Justin Alvin Nicholas McKinney
  • Brian Eugene McMillan >
  • Ciara Elise McParland*^
  • Janessa M. Mendoza*^
  • Tatyana Loreina Mercado
  • Lauren Messercola
  • Daryl Miller
  • Kimberly Nycole Miller
  • Robert A. Miller, Jr.
  • Jacob Thomas Mintel*
  • Thomas Patrick Monahan III
  • Destinee Lee Monasterio*
  • Abigail Montesdeoca
  • Michael B. Mora
  • Joan Sebastian Moralez
  • Emily Grace Moreira*^
  • Crystal M. Mota*^
  • Nabihah Balqees Nadir >
  • Zyasia M. Nash^
  • Maya Nichols*
  • Joshua Tyler Njoroge*
  • Daniel Nash Nocera
  • Rashid Odoms
  • Kevin Timothy Orcutt^
  • Kevin Osores
  • Kimberly Otieno
  • Alexander Steven Parillo*^
  • Brandon A. Patterson <
  • Christopher Pauer
  • George Pavlakis*
  • Julia Anne Pecoraro* <
  • Samara Isabella Perez*^
  • Zachary Scott Piazza
  • Katie Capri Pinckney*^
  • Elizabeth Pollard*^ <
  • Brian Michael Power <
  • Owen Michael Quinn
  • Sofia Rama*^ <
  • Rebecca Rauschkolb
  • Keyonna De Asia Reid
  • Sawyer Evan Reis*^
  • Megan Kathleen Richmond*
  • Andre Rodriguez^
  • Megan Lizette Rodriguez*^
  • Gerard Clements Joseph Rokosz*
  • Lindsey Grace Rotoly*^
  • David Edward Saggio
  • Chad Salaam
  • Christina A. Samuels Lee
  • Tyler L. Samuels
  • Lauren Ashley Sasala
  • Katherine Elizabeth Savoca
  • Jacob Lyle Schilling <
  • Tyler M. Scott
  • Julianna Sevillano*
  • Daniel Shapiro
  • Jianping Shen*
  • Todd Douglas Smith II
  • Ricardo Sosa
  • Kathleen Anastasia Springer
  • Asia Makenna-Brielle Starks
  • Thea Stratman-Olibrice <
  • Joseph Henry Stulec
  • Goldera Alisha Surles*^ <
  • Sara Catherine Tennant*^
  • Dylan Thastaporn
  • Alyssa Bianca Thompson*
  • Princess Frances Thurman*^ <
  • Alexis Toomer
  • Danielle Torres^
  • Connor Trower
  • Jill Elizabeth Valenzano <
  • Christine Grace Vilarino*^
  • Jade M. Waithe*^
  • Brittany Helen Walsh^
  • Gabrielle Marie Welle
  • Krishna S. White
  • Ivana Wijedasa*^
  • Jayden Jarell Williams
  • Trey Elijah Wilson
  • Susan Julia Wojcik*^
  • Shellann Worthen*^
  • Yifan Wu*
  • Zhuoying Xu
  • Scott Yallico
  • Zehuan Yang*>
  • Olivia Rose Yarem*^
  • Hanyang Yu
  • Yiting Zhang*>
  • Kaixin Zheng
  • Shaojia Zhi

* National Honor Society
^ World Language Honor Society
> National Art Honor Society
< International Thespian Honor Society

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