HARTFORD -- St. Paul Catholic High School graduated 102 students on Tuesday – a class that had to endure a tough stretch with the global pandemic.
During the last night they could call themselves seniors, however, most graduates took it in stride and reflected on their years at the private school in Bristol.
“I made so many friends,” said Jean Carlo, of Meriden. “I’ve had so many fun times. Had a lot of fun with friends.”
High school, Carlo continued, was “a good way to bond.”
James Melvin, of Wethersfield, said his four years at St. Paul helped mold his character and allowed him to grow as a person.
“I learned how to branch out,” Melvin said.
“I was really challenged,” Melvin continued. “Even though I had some bad, it shaped me to who I am today, and I wouldn’t change anything.”
Cary Dupont, president at St. Paul Catholic High School, remarked about how difficult covid-19 was for students, which at one time forced learning to be done remotely.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them, especially considering all they’ve had to go through,” Dupont said of the 2021 graduating class.
Dupont acknowledged that the covid-19 virus and the influences it caused brought some disappointment to students, but he also said watching how the students dealt with it was something of which he’s proud.
“This group has just rallied and has had an incredible attitude of just forging forward,” Dupont said.
The school president also said, given how many things over the past year or so have been unconventional, it was most pleasing to see a traditional graduation ceremony at the Cathedral of St. Joseph, in Hartford.
Included in the 102 St. Paul graduates of 2021 were two military appointments.
Bristol resident Jonathan Passander will go on to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and Southington resident Joshua Silva will head to the US Naval Academy Annapolis.
“I wanted to pursue a rigorous college education while also serving our country as an Army officer, improving my leadership qualities, and strengthening my core values,” Passander said. “This path of discipline and struggle will form the best version of myself, pushing me past my limits. I am determined to take this commitment seriously to provide the next generation of soldiers with quality leadership and represent the military and country as best as I can.”
“I find myself fascinated with the amount of opportunities available through the Academy and beyond,” Passander continued. “Lastly, I want to provide a good foundation for myself in fields like engineering and robotics to apply to my Army discipline, further studies, and future career afterwards.”
Silva also shared his thoughts on why he chose the path he did.
“My brother, who recently graduated from the Air Force Academy, recommended a book called ‘Brother’s Forever’ by Tom Sileo and Col. Tom Manion,” Silva said. “The book is about the life of two best friends who graduated from Annapolis, their service, and their eventual sacrifice. Then what ultimately inspired me to apply to the Naval Academy was a quote that read ‘If not me, then who?’”
Adrian George, another one of the graduates, said there were many things about his time in high school that he’ll always remember.
“I had a good time,” said George, a Bristol resident. “Made a lot of good friends. I hope I’ll still talk to them in college.”
“I have memories over the last four years that will last a long time,” George continued.
Thomas Burgess, of Watertown, also said reflected back on his four years at St. Paul.
“I met a lot of great people,” Burgess said. “Had a great time. I’m going to remember it fondly.”
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.