Holy Cross grads leave legacy of hope

June 17, 2024 at 4:19 p.m.
Samir Wellington stands with Holy Cross Preparatory Academy president Alex Pracher during Commencement exercises June 1. Ron Maniglia photo
Samir Wellington stands with Holy Cross Preparatory Academy president Alex Pracher during Commencement exercises June 1. Ron Maniglia photo (ronald maniglia)

By Emmalee Italia, Contributing Editor

As the 68 students of the Class of 2024 gathered for commencement exercises June 1 in Tom Reilly Stadium at Holy Cross Preparatory Academy, Delran, they were reminded of the inheritance they would leave behind.

“You had opportunities to create your own story and build a legacy here at HCPA,” said Principal David Moffa. “Now as you leave, what will people think about you? … I believe people will say that you are a class that gives us hope … that the next generation can be one that brings positive energy into the world and makes real, transformational differences.”

Photo Gallery: Holy Cross Preparatory Academy Baccalaureate

Photo Gallery: Holy Cross Preparatory Academy Graduation

Salutatorian Mia Barto said the chance to discover confidence and values was key to the class’ preparation for their next steps – even though they didn’t realize it on their first day.

“There were so many opportunities for personal growth in front of us,” she said. “We didn’t know that this is the place that would shape us, the place where we would find who we are … what we believe in, where our interests lie, and the kind of people we want to surround ourselves with. Throughout the past four years, many of us discovered our most important values, and we envisioned our future selves right in front of us.”

The HCPA graduating class proudly worked to organize and replenish post-pandemic events that had been on hiatus for a few years, including the school’s “Mr. Holy Cross” fundraiser and participation in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in May.

Rich Wojnar, father of class valedictorian Jessica Nicole Wojnar, said he and his wife chose HCPA for their daughter and her two older siblings for the college preparatory environment. The Wojnar family, who belong to St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Cinnaminson, also place high value on the Catholic aspect of the school.

At the Baccalaureate Mass, graduate Gabriella Donoflio receives Communion from Father James Grogan, pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Moorestown. John Batkowski photo

“By integrating faith and spiritual components into its educational curriculum, Holy Cross — and Catholic schools in general — help to cultivate a sense of spirituality and develop a strong moral conscience for their students,” Wojnar said. “And being kind, showing empathy and doing what is right is very important as you progress in life, both personally and professionally.”

Jessica echoed her father’s appreciation for the school, noting the block scheduling and laptop provision for students as key to college preparatory success, and the “nurturing, safe environment [that] teaches good values” as another major attraction.

“Values are part of the curriculum, including integrity, self-worth, compassion, kindness, empathy and service,” she said.

English teacher Kathryn Dean encouraged the graduates to take what they learned at HCPA into the world.

“Continue to try to see the world through another’s eyes,” she urged. “Keep recognizing one another’s needs so that you can provide comfort. I assure you, no one is looking for perfection, just understanding. It’s how we know we are not alone.”  

“With life’s unexpected turns, change is a natural part of life and being adaptable is a vital skill. It is through change that we can push ourselves to rise to any challenge and growto become a better person.” Jessica Nicole Wojnar, valedictorian


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As the 68 students of the Class of 2024 gathered for commencement exercises June 1 in Tom Reilly Stadium at Holy Cross Preparatory Academy, Delran, they were reminded of the inheritance they would leave behind.

“You had opportunities to create your own story and build a legacy here at HCPA,” said Principal David Moffa. “Now as you leave, what will people think about you? … I believe people will say that you are a class that gives us hope … that the next generation can be one that brings positive energy into the world and makes real, transformational differences.”

Photo Gallery: Holy Cross Preparatory Academy Baccalaureate

Photo Gallery: Holy Cross Preparatory Academy Graduation

Salutatorian Mia Barto said the chance to discover confidence and values was key to the class’ preparation for their next steps – even though they didn’t realize it on their first day.

“There were so many opportunities for personal growth in front of us,” she said. “We didn’t know that this is the place that would shape us, the place where we would find who we are … what we believe in, where our interests lie, and the kind of people we want to surround ourselves with. Throughout the past four years, many of us discovered our most important values, and we envisioned our future selves right in front of us.”

The HCPA graduating class proudly worked to organize and replenish post-pandemic events that had been on hiatus for a few years, including the school’s “Mr. Holy Cross” fundraiser and participation in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in May.

Rich Wojnar, father of class valedictorian Jessica Nicole Wojnar, said he and his wife chose HCPA for their daughter and her two older siblings for the college preparatory environment. The Wojnar family, who belong to St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Cinnaminson, also place high value on the Catholic aspect of the school.

At the Baccalaureate Mass, graduate Gabriella Donoflio receives Communion from Father James Grogan, pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Moorestown. John Batkowski photo

“By integrating faith and spiritual components into its educational curriculum, Holy Cross — and Catholic schools in general — help to cultivate a sense of spirituality and develop a strong moral conscience for their students,” Wojnar said. “And being kind, showing empathy and doing what is right is very important as you progress in life, both personally and professionally.”

Jessica echoed her father’s appreciation for the school, noting the block scheduling and laptop provision for students as key to college preparatory success, and the “nurturing, safe environment [that] teaches good values” as another major attraction.

“Values are part of the curriculum, including integrity, self-worth, compassion, kindness, empathy and service,” she said.

English teacher Kathryn Dean encouraged the graduates to take what they learned at HCPA into the world.

“Continue to try to see the world through another’s eyes,” she urged. “Keep recognizing one another’s needs so that you can provide comfort. I assure you, no one is looking for perfection, just understanding. It’s how we know we are not alone.”  

“With life’s unexpected turns, change is a natural part of life and being adaptable is a vital skill. It is through change that we can push ourselves to rise to any challenge and growto become a better person.” Jessica Nicole Wojnar, valedictorian


The Church needs quality Catholic journalism now more than ever. Please consider supporting this work by signing up for a SUBSCRIPTION (click HERE) or making a DONATION to The Monitor (click HERE). Thank you for your support.

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