By Lois Rogers |Correspondent
Four years of fellowship, faith and academic achievement closed on a high note June 4 as 165 Donovan Catholic seniors tossed their blue caps in the air outside St. Joseph Church, a sure signal that a new chapter in their lives had begun.
Photo Gallery: Donovan Catholic Graduation 2018
Photo Gallery: Donovan Catholic Baccalaureate Mass 2018
The celebrations began May 31 with the traditional award ceremony, reaching a liturgical crescendo on June 3, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, when Father Scott Shaffer, St. Joseph pastor and director of Donovan Catholic, celebrated a Baccalaureate Mass for the class, their families and educators.
In his homily, Father Shaffer encouraged everyone to contemplate the great gift of “the feast we celebrate today – the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ,” and how the Eucharist – “the perfect meal that heals, sustains, encourages, strengthens and guides (us) in this life” is at the very core of the spiritual and academic experience gained at Donovan Catholic.
On graduation day, the vast church was filled as the students, who collectively garnered nearly $21 million in scholarships to colleges, universities and institutes of higher learning around the United States, heard uplifting words from valedictorian Emily Ostermann.
Ostermann, a St. Joseph parishioner, shared how her faith had deepened extensively while attending Donovan Catholic and believes the same is true for her classmates.
The takeaway, she said, is likely to be impressive. “You may not bring your yearbook to college,” she said, “but you will carry more from Donovan than you think. Our faith will follow us. The lessons learned in humbleness, compassion and integrity will direct us for life.”
Ostermann, one of many students recognized for special awards in scholarship and service, received the Spirit of St. Dominic Award, given annually by the Sisters of St. Dominic who have served the school since 1962, and recognition as the 14th student in the school’s history to be named a National Merit finalist.
Salutatorian Michaela Rankin, set to enter the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with fellow classmate MacKenzie Burns next month, received the Salutatorian Award. Burns was recognized with the U.S. Army Reserve National Scholar/Athlete Award.
As the event came to an end, students lingered with their families and friends savoring their connection to Donovan Catholic.
Among them were Bertha Ramirez and her son, Roy, the second of her two children to graduate from Donovan Catholic, who will study construction at Ocean County College in Toms River.
Bertha Ramirez said the family made it a point to send the children to Donovan Catholic. “I heard a lot about it, how all the kids who come here are so motivated and I wanted to give the children the opportunity.”