June 8, 2006
By JENNIFER GROGAN, Courant Staff Writer
Northwest Catholic High School seniors danced, gave high-fives, yelled and stomped their feet Wednesday evening in the basement of the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford, just before the start of their graduation ceremony.
They cheered, "Can I get a North?" "North!" "Can I get a West?" "West!" "Northwest!"
When Principal Margaret Williamson instructed them to "calm down" and "take a breath," however, they said a prayer before going quietly upstairs into the cathedral to take their seats as cameras flashed.
In a ceremony filled with prayers and song, 145 students from the private West Hartford school received their diplomas and heard speeches filled with high school memories and hopes for the future.
Salutatorian Carrie Schwartz of West Hartford said thatwhile the future may be full of surprises and changes, the graduates will cherish their time at Northwest Catholic.
"We will always be able to look back on our happy memories of Northwest, from greeting our friends at their lockers to celebrating a victory with teammates, from taking pictures at prom to eating our bagels and cookies in the cafe," said Schwartz, who will attend the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester this fall.
Valedictorian Martin Rubino of Enfield, who will attend Providence College, spoke of the values Northwest Catholic taught him.
"As we leave Northwest Catholic, we realize that these values of faith, family and friendship have had a great impact on who we are today and have helped us form convictions and beliefs of our own," he said.
Dr. Daniel Cavanagh, a member of Northwest Catholic's Class of 1988 and director of the biomedical engineering program at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., was the graduation speaker. He said the graduates now have a solid foundation for the future because the school has taught them to grow academically, morally and spiritually.
"From this day on, in whatever your future may be in this ever-changing world, use what you have learned at Northwest to pursue your own definition of happiness and success, slow down and try to make a difference in the lives of others and continually seek to broaden your knowledge and faith," he said.
Bishop Christie A. Macaluso, auxiliary bishop of Hartford, blessed the graduates and said the greatest legacy of Northwest Catholic to its students is "a great hope, based in a great faith." He said this optimism should be guarded.
"Don't let it slip through your fingers," he said.
The graduates cheered and tossed their caps as they exited onto the cathedral steps.
Graduation day was particularly special for Anja Kacmarcik, who came with her family from New Orleans to West Hartford after Hurricane Katrina. Kacmarcik, 17, will return to New Orleans next month with her father to take care of their home, before attending Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
She said she would miss the new friends she made at Northwest Catholic who helped her get through a difficult year.
"I feel like they're my brothers and sisters here," she said. "It was an emotional time, and they helped me through it. At the same time, I'm excited to see my friends back home. It's home. You can't change home."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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