The past, present, and future intermingled in the eyes of 33 senior students of Mount Carmel School as they turned their tassels and officially became graduates of the sole Catholic school on Saipan.
Mount Carmel School president Galvin Deleon Guerrero congratulated and welcomed the graduates to the “AlumKnight” family, saying they are the 50th generation of Knights, the school’s mascot, to graduate from Mount Carmel.
Senior student Ginny Wu was hailed as the class’ valedictorian. Wu, who will be studying Biology at the University of California, Irvine, told her fellow graduates that her secret to success was finding her motivation, working hard, and not giving up.
“That’s the method I used to succeed in high school,” she said. “Now, I do not know exactly what I want to do with my life. I thought about it, but I do not know what I want.”
Wu urged her classmates to find something that can sustain a happy and healthy life for them.
“Take a risk, because you never know unless you try,” she added.
Wu thanked her school, parents, and friends for their support.
“Thank you for guiding me when I am lost or having a hard time. Thank you mom and dad for working 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year with no breaks or holidays just to make money and send me to MCS.”
Class salutatorian Leon Liang Lizama II shared Wu’s message.
“My bond with the school progressed and the Mount Carmel School become more of a second home to me. This is a special day for all of us,” he said. “The years have gone by so swiftly, yet all the experiences I went through, all the accomplishments I made, and all the people I met will never be forgotten.”
Lizama added, “My educators wake up each day to prepare lessons and spend restless nights to go over the students’ papers and plan for the next day. My parents invested their time and energy for the sake of my duration. You all did your best to make me open up and make me feel accepted. This [MCS] is a special place; let us not forget where we come from.”
Besides academic honors, other awards were also presented to the graduates.
The traditional Bishop Tomas A. Camacho Service Award was given to Hyunsuk Joseph Kang, who was also named the 1st honor.
Andrea Manese received the President’s Award for Meritorious Achievement, Ginny Wu was also named the Most Outstanding Female, and the Governor’s Award was awarded to Carey Demapan.
Twelve students also received the Loyalty Award: Andrea Manese, Dominic Travilla, Carey Demapan, Jasmine Che, Kaylani Lebria, Leon Lizama II, Angel Maliti, Mario P. Camacho, Michelle Kautz, Richelle Kautz, Tasha Deleon Guerrero, and Victor Cabrera. Recipients of this award attended Mount Carmel School for 12 consecutive years.
One graduate, Kaylani Lebria, said that she feels blessed to be surrounded by her current classmates.
“I can’t believe how fast time has gone by. We are about to turn the page and begin the next chapter of our lives. The hardest part about beginning this chapter is knowing that we will all be starting it without each other,” she told Saipan Tribune. “Our class was doubted many times and I am glad we proved everyone wrong.”
This year’s keynote address was delivered by 2005 AlumKnight Jacqueline Che.
Che told the students to be proud of their accomplishments and to not forget the people who share in their pride.
“You are one of the most successful students to graduate from the CNMI this year,” she said in her address.
Che urged the students to “keep the faith” as the school’s founders did when they first rebuilt the school after it was hit by a typhoon.
“Keep that faith just as the founders did,” she added. “With the dwindling number of student enrollment the past decade and the hard economic realities of the CNMI, it also took significant faith to sustain MCS and keep her faith.”
Che told the graduates that their presence at the ceremony last weekend is concrete manifestation of their faith.
“Despite challenges and obstacles, whether it be immigration issues, growing up with not a lot of money, or in a single parent home you all set your heart on this day—and in doing so you are following the footsteps of all the AlumKnights who came before you and you have become an indelible part of the history of the school.”
In his closing remarks, school president Galvin Deleon Guerrero thanked the graduates’ parents for investing their money, time, and faith in what the school has to offer.
Guerrero told the graduates, “As you make your way out into the world, ready to face the darkness, fear, doubt, and uncertainty, remember this: You are a marvel. As a marvel all you need to do to defeat the darkness is to let your light shine.”