|Valedictorian: Carolann Carl|
Known as the Crusaders, the Class of 2013 at the Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School is a group of trail blazers in many ways that will be hard to topple not only in its own history, but in memory lanes throughout the country.
Completing four years as the “experimental” class for the newest secondary school in Pohnpei, the twenty-three (23) young Micronesians set high achievements, establishing the school well among the top five high schools throughout the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), according to Dr. Rufino Mauricio, Secretary of the FSM Department of Education. Dr. Mauricio, keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony, also used the College of Micronesia-FSM Entrance Test results as a success indicator, saying an over ninety percent (90%) passing rate was achieved by the school in addition to winning two state debates and one national debate within its first four years.
|Salutatorian: Sheila Marie Suda|
It seemed the only familiar feature of the graduation rituals was the marching tune. Everything else afterward was somehow different during that May 18 graduation. It began with the welcoming speech by salutatorian Sheila Marie Suda when after expressing gratitude for the day, she uttered behind wide smiles of both relief and joy -- “I feel like dancing!” Her companions, as if to provide approval, shouted “yes”.
Drenched in tears, yet beaming with smiles, valedictorian Carolann Carl captivated her well-wishers in the packed Our Lady of Mercy Church with her eloquent address, fusing the experiences of four years into what seemed a ten-minute oration. Anything special about her speech? Apart from witty interjections, Ms. Carl clearly won the respect of the multitude that turned up to witness the event when she challenged not only her own classmates to stand with her on the side of the right changes, aspirations, desires, dreams for a better world – a better Micronesia. She went further and invited the parents and everyone present to stand with the class if they believed and hoped for the right changes for Micronesia in educational issues, environmental concerns, good governance, equal opportunities for all, violence free communities and other qualities of a just and flourishing society. Well, I looked around me at that point. No one was spared. A standing ovation! My knees almost buckled, overburdened with pride. I was thinking – this young lady has made me believe once more in the country I was born to serve.
By the time the keynote speaker took the podium, there were no other meaningful words left to be said. But, Dr. Mauricio himself embodied the last piece of advice made to the graduates: “work exceedingly hard”, quoted from President Manny Mori’s remarks at the FSM Investment Facilitation Symposium earlier this month. Dr. Mauricio was perhaps chosen to tell the students what he said: aim high, work hard to the end, and come back to contribute to building a home we all can cherish.