The few drops of rain that sprinkled over Kelly Mac Field on May 20, 2022, only added a flourish to the historic 125th commencement of The Ursuline School. The Class of 2022 is “truly extraordinary” proclaimed President Dr. Colleen Melnyk. Indeed, they are.
As Dr. Melnyk noted, “this class has held a ringside seat to a remarkable period over the last two-and-a-half years and you have thrived.” Notwithstanding remote learning, hybrid schedules, mask mandates, and frequent Zooms, the 163 members of the Class of 2022 completed global capstones, science research, art portfolios and sports seasons, and they were accepted into 220 different colleges, earning nearly $23 million in college scholarships and awards.
Valedictorian Julia Ognibene beautifully described this distinctive class as she proclaimed, “The vibrancy, integrity and unity we have maintained as a class throughout the challenging circumstances we endured is unparalleled. This differentiates us as a class. This reveals our true character of fortitude and grace.
Our Ursuline experience has given us confidence. Resilience and grit. That is what I have seen in our class over the past four years. We have overcome every difficulty, risen from every failure, faced every challenge with grace and dignity. This has given us confidence. Confidence that we can handle any adversity in the future and confidence that we are capable of igniting the world with courage and passion. And with all of this, our Ursuline experience has widened our perspective on the endless possibilities the world has to offer, making us as ready as we will ever be to step into it and leave our mark on it, making the world better than we found it.”
Salutatorian Rory Sibley noted the important role of Ursuline faculty as she said, “To our teachers, I want to convey our sincerest gratitude for all the patience and diligence you have shown us over the years; the dedication to your work and students, which is especially recognized considering the chaos these last two years have presented, has enriched us, mind, body, and soul. Each and every one of you has made crucial, unforgettable impacts on our lives.
Mr. Bratt and his direction towards international concerns have allowed us to develop more globally-focused mindsets that see beyond our own communities. Mr. Monacelli has prompted us to challenge social norms and find passion in male-dominated science fields. Mrs. Joyce’s dual commitment to organize all the extraordinary affairs of senior year whilst sparking interests in many genres of literature has demonstrated what it is to properly manage our schedules and understand the difference between prioritizing academics and celebratory needs. These are just to name a few, but I want every teacher to know that your mentorship has helped us forge our own beautifully distinct voices, has inspired us to pursue our greatest aspirations, and has helped us learn how to overcome challenges in the face of defeat.”
The faculty and staff lined the Senior Path to cheer on the seniors as they processed from the Ring Day steps to Kelly Mac Field. Principal Rosemary Beirne welcomed the families and guests assembled on the field. After the invocation by Msgr. Keane, Ms. Wendy Harmer led the senior members of the Honors Choir in the singing of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
At the conferring of diplomas, we acknowledged the eight daughters of alumnae, one granddaughter of an alumna, and one great granddaughter of an alumna. It was so wonderful to witness our rich lineage. The six sets of twins also had their special moments and photographs.
Dr. Melnyk’s address noted the historic nature of this commencement when she described the class as “faithful members of a strong Community that has existed for 125 years. Though you may think you have endured a singular experience, there are some surprising parallels between you, the Class of 2022, and the FIRST graduating class of The Ursuline School. . . The first student enrolled in The Ursuline School was named Mary Brady and her nickname was Maisie. We know a lot about Maisie Brady. For example, she and a number of her classmates survived the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. Five years later, she and her fellow alums were granted the right to vote when the 19th amendment was passed. Maisie went on to become an educator and taught locally. She now rests here in New Rochelle. The first graduates of The Ursuline School experienced great social change and survived a worldwide pandemic. . . Despite the finite opportunities presented to those early graduates, they shared a deep faith and optimism in their ability to go forth and find their place in society at a time when society was evolving. Most importantly, they relied upon each other as a community to move forward in the world.”
Dr. Melnyk also posed several questions for the graduates to ponder: “How has this experience transformed me? How has this community impacted my formation as a young woman entering the world with all the gifts and attributes that I was born with? How have I created community?” We invite you to read the full transcript of Dr. Melnyk’s commencement address HERE.
In the Honors and Awards portion of the program, the National Merit Scholars and Global Scholars were again recognized, and the following awards were announced:
Serviam Awards for service to the school in the spirit of St. Angela: Anna Ausanio, Anaya Balkcom, Anna Brody, Caroline Brody, Erica Cally, Emma Centenni, Frances Cockburn, Angelina Coppola, Abigail D’Angelo, Sophia Frank, Mackenzie Handler, Catherine Hickey, Kelly Katsoris, Rachael Mannix, Jannett Martiena, Mary Wrotniak
Classics – Sophia Frank
Computer Science, in memory of Frances LoCicero Bailie ‘61 –Frances Cockburn
English – Sofia Cintora
Mathematics – Julia Ognibene
Media Arts – Kamryn Gaines
Performing Arts – Santina Madden
Physical Education – Jannett Martiena
Religious Studies – Kelly Katsoris
Science – Rory Sibley
Social Studies – Lola Milazzo
Visual Arts – Mary Whelan
World Languages: Italian – Isabella Castellano, Spanish – Susan McGuckin
Student Council Leadership Awards – Olivia Oshiro, Olivia Zerafa
Fathers’ Club Award – Jennipher Martiena
Mothers’ Auxiliary Award – Olivia Goncalves
Ursuline Alumnae Key – Margaret Gordon
Katherine Johnson Memorial Award – Frances Cockburn
Emily A. Clemente Memorial Award – Lola Milazzo
Sheila Kelly Memorial Award – Anna Galdabini
Sister JB Nicholson, OSU Award – Kayla-Ann Johnson
Principal’s Award – Safiya Grant
Congratulations to the Class of 2022!
Graduation photos by Chris Pope of Christopher Pope Photography.