SHREWSBURY – Hundreds of friends and family gathered at Pioneer Field on Sunday afternoon to celebrate the 204 seniors graduating as part of the Saint John’s High School Class of 2023.
The over 200 graduates filed into their seats. The graduates were organized by homeroom, and teachers announced each student’s name, hometown, and future plans, as they walked across the stage and received their diploma from Saint John’s Headmaster Alex Zequeira.
As part of the ceremony, the graduates participated in an opening prayer and listened to Alex Naliath and Matthew Marchese reflect on their time at the school and a performance by the school’s jazz ensemble.
“This diploma conferral ceremony is the single most important event in the yearly life of our school,” Zequeira said during his speech at the ceremony. “It is where we – Saint John’s High School – proclaim to our community that you are ready to go out into the world, equipped with the tools to be successful men in whatever you choose to do.”
Zequeira commended the class of 2023, predicting that the members of the class will be highly successful in the future.
“You are ready to be leaders who serve at home, in your church, in your community, in your work, and in your chosen vocation,” he said. “You are ready to be devoted sons, husbands, fathers, brothers, leaders, and citizens. You are keenly aware – because what you’ve been taught here… – that this devotion and commitment to serving others is what will define your success.”
Jayden Nai Ntsake Abbeyquaye, the class valedictorian who will attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, gave remarks toward the end of the ceremony.
“Too often, we find ourselves in competition with others when we should really be competing with ourselves,” he said. “Don’t look to achieve more than the person next to you – look to improve yourself, and the rest will come later. Steadily walk your own path, and you’ll see how far you’ll go.”
Abbeyquaye also paid tribute to the graduates’ families in his speech.
“They have been your support and cheerleaders since they have known you,” he said, later mentioning his appreciation for his mother, father, two brothers, and family in Ghana.
Zequeira expressed a similar sentiment.
“We accomplish nothing in our lives alone, and while today is a celebration of you, both individually and as a class, it is not just a celebration for you. It is a celebration for your families, friends, faculty, staff, coaches, peers, and adults,” he said.
Zequeira finished his speech by explaining the importance of education.
“The gift of education is not meant to be hoarded, but to be shared,” he said. “It is a flame that ignites the world, lighting up the lives of others who may be trapped in darkness. Through your actions, you have the power to inspire, lift, and transform.”