Blue caps went airborne through the sun-splashed sky when Union Catholic’s Class of 2022 graduated during a ceremony held in front of the school on Wednesday.
The 168 members of the Class of 2022, who will forever be remembered as the “Comeback Class,’’ let their emotions flow as they celebrated their memorable accomplishment with classmates, family, and members of the UC faculty on a beautiful day on the campus.
Union Catholic’s 57th annual Commencement Ceremony was an emotional, exciting, uplifting, and reflective event as a huge crowd gathered to honor UC’s Class of 2022, and members of UC’s Class of 1972, who celebrated their 50th anniversary.
The day was also filled with inspiring, passionate, and heartfelt speeches from Principal Sister Percylee Hart, RSM, UC seniors Abby Hunsinger and Yvonne Agyapong, the Co-Valedictorians, Ava Perona, the Student Council President, and Commencement Speaker Mike Conte, a school counselor at Union Catholic for the past 10 years
To watch the entire graduation ceremony, go here
Sister Percylee Hart delivered a special message to the Class of 2022 with her usual passion and great words of wisdom.
"Class of 2022, here at Union Catholic, things are better, change abounds, and advances have been made because of you,'' said Sister Percylee. "Your presence will be missed as you pursue your college and career goals. But your many contributions will remain as a valued testament of your talents and gifts you so generously shared with the UC Community. Graduates, I wish you much success and happiness, and may God Bless you all the days of your lives. And don’t forget to come back to UC. You are always welcome.’’
Hunsinger, who will attend Bentley University, said the Class of 2022 is forever linked together.
"We, as a class, have a legacy,’’ said Hunsiger. “Union Catholic has brought us together, from being a group of strangers, to a community of individuals who have grown close to one another over the past four years. Regardless of the time we spend apart or the distance that continually grows overtime, we will always be members of the Union Catholic Class of 2022, linked together in that community; the legacy of our class is incarnated within the things we accomplish as a collective entity and the impression we impart on the world. It is our responsibility to uphold and fulfill that legacy as we take our first steps into a new chapter in our lives.’’
Agyapong said the Class of 2022 should never stop believing in themselves.
“I want you to have the confidence and inner strength to leave this lawn today and turn the world absolutely upside down, no matter what you do and how challenging it may be,’’ said the Yale-bound Agyapong. “You have 167 classmates who can’t wait to watch you do it. With that, I leave you with this advice for the road ahead: life will always be 100% worth
living, but it might not always be worth loving, so I hope you can at least love every version of yourself along the arduous way. Once again, it has been an honor to speak to you all. The biggest of congratulations to the Class of 2022!’’
Conte gave a very heartfelt and passionate speech, and offered some great advice for the Class of 2021.
"Everyone actually take a big deep breath in right now… Take two seconds to let this moment sink in. Look around you… Think about how you got here; the people who helped you, the challenges that didn’t help you but made you stronger, the emotions you feel right now, whatever they are… Just allow this moment to sink in and wash over you, and - right now - find something to be grateful for. As you reflect on where you’ve been and where you are right now, start to think about where you’re going, what happens when this is over and you’re officially a high school graduate.
"This is your chance to reinvent yourself,'' said Conte. "When you go to college or join the workforce or take a gap year or whatever you’re going to do when that door in the senior wing doesn’t get shut right in your face as you’re racing toward it at 8 a.m. on the dot next September 1st, nobody will know who you were. Nobody will care! This is your fresh start, your chance to be anyone you want to be. Want to be a millionaire and drive fancy cars and open your own business? Go for it! Want to be goth and wear dark makeup and let your armpit hair grow? Not advisable, but go for it! Want to be really studious and spend time in the library at college instead of pretending that you don’t care about your grades because you’re afraid of the hard work or being seen as a nerd? Go for it! Why not you. This is your life, it’s time to take charge. Be kind to yourself, be kind to others, and share all the goodness in you - let it flow forth so you can live the life you want. Because why not you? The future is ours. And you can have everything you want; I know you can do it. Congratulations!’’
Perona, who will attend the University of South Carolina, gave a very memorable speech, and said the Class of 2022 will always be remembered as the “Comeback Class.’’
"Our high school experience was disrupted from Covid,’’ said Perona. “Fortunately, we were able to have our senior year in person. Despite being apart for so long; we were able to come together as a community, which was the theme for this school year, and make this senior year special. In spite of the challenges, the Class of 2022 had lots of full, special days. From the first day back as we were all anticipating a full year in person, to Mr. UC, and all of the memories in between. One day in particular that was a full and special day for me was our last day here at UC. Skirt decorating and t-shirt signing was the perfect way to end a perfect senior year. The day was filled with lots of laughs, thoughts about the future, and lots and lots of tears.
"When reflecting on our senior year, it feels that we never had that time apart, and we had a mostly normal high school experience together,' said Perona. "Not only that, but our class has excelled over the last four years despite the odds through sports, academics, service and extracurriculars. From perfect scores on the ACT, to 2 successful musicals, track nationals and fundraisers like the SMAC flag football tournament.
We did all of this during a pandemic. The fact that the class of 2022 was able to continue to accomplish so much during such an unprecedented time speaks volumes about the character and determination of this group of graduates. The way this class was able to come back from many challenges, shows me that you are all capable of achieving greatness. In such a dark time- this class will come into the world as a light. As the comeback class takes on the next adventure in our lives, UC will always be home. Without a doubt in mind I know that if any of you here today needed help with a future endeavor, your UC family would be there to support you. Once a Viking, always a Viking. Good luck and God bless Union Catholic, and the “Comeback Class”, the Class of 2022! We did it!’’
Here's a look at some of the members of the Class of 2022 who received special awards that were handed out during the ceremony:
The Spirit Award: Ava Perona and Ryan Hatzlhoffer. The Michael Marotti Award: Nicolette Jimenez. The Jane Albert Award: Madison Duca. The School Consultative Board Award: Michael Palacio and Yvonne Agyapong. The Principal’s Award: Jada Mia Puryear.
Here’s an alphabetical list of Union Catholic's 168 members of the Class of 2022.
Joylynn Awurama Biney
Brandon Di Dario
Keith Miller Murden
Carlos Antonio Montenegro
Michael Mulkeen Jr.