Logan Ronan and Connor Sampson take a selfie before the graduation ceremonies at St. Dom’s Academy in Auburn on Friday evening.

Bishop Robert P. Deeley takes his place among the graduating senior class for photos at St. Dom’s Academy in Auburn on Friday evening.

St. Dom’s Academy celebrates the 73rd commencement on Friday evening in Auburn.

Sydney Sirois leads the graduating class of St. Dom’s Academy into the gymnasium in Auburn on Friday night.

AUBURN – It’s hard to argue with the numbers.

Of the 46 students who graduated from St. Dominic Academy this year, 44 are going to college. One has joined the military, while another is going directly into the workforce.

The graduates are going places, and their journeys began Friday night when they were handed diplomas and sent on their way.

“I’m ready,” graduate Dale Brown said. “But I’m not ready. This school has meant so much to me.”

Brown may not feel entirely ready for his future, but his plan is in place — he’s off to study business and sports management in hopes of working in the NFL someday.

Brown’s mother, Stephanie, had similar mixed feelings about the occasion.

“It’s very happy and it’s very sad,” she said. “It’s an ending and it’s a beginning.”

Then she and her son looked at each other, embraced, and both started feeling better about what lies ahead.

“He’s going to be just fine,” she said of her only child. “I have complete confidence.”

As is usually the case, the graduating students were mostly calm, if a little giddy, as they prepared to depart high school. Their parents, on the other hand, were less composed.

“It’s a weird feeling,” said Jody Jalbert, whose son Camden was collecting his diploma. “It’s definitely bittersweet.”

For kids and parents alike, it wasn’t just about sending off children or saying goodbye to friends. Parting ways with St. Dom’s itself is a sad thing.

“There’s a big sense of family here,” Jalbert said.

For graduate Shuyao Zhang, leaving the school family was a little more frantic than it was for others. She was flying out of Boston at 1 a.m. en route to China, so she had to say goodbye a full half hour before her classmates.

Zhang had just enough time to pose for a few photos and accept her diploma before heading out the door.

“It’s a little unusual,” St. Dom’s President Donald Fournier said. “It couldn’t be avoided.”

The students made the best of it. They crowded around Zhang, a few of them in tears, and said goodbye before their friend was off to China and then, after that, to New York to continue her studies.

No one can accuse the graduates of failing to learn gratitude during their years at St. Dom’s. In her salutatory address, Emily Dionne thanked her parents for “ceaseless love and support,” and encouraged other students to do the same.

What followed was long, loud applause as the students acknowledged the mothers and fathers who had for so long stood by them.

Megan D’Allesandro likewise noted the unconditional support of her parents as she delivered her valedictory address. She also encouraged her classmates to find themselves, repeating advice given to her years ago by a St. Dom’s teacher.

What does “finding yourself” mean?

“It is knowing who you are,” D’Allesandro said, “and acting with purpose.”

In her address, school Principal Shelly Wheeler advised the students to commit to the Lord in whatever they do, even as they wander off into uncertain futures.

“You are 17 and 18 years old,” Wheeler said. “It’s OK to not know your path. You will graduate here tonight and you’ll be off to try new things.

“Trust in God’s plan,” Wheeler told them. “Be committed and faithful, work hard, and use the tools and skills that you’ve developed here at St. Dom’s. Your path may be unknown to you, but trust in God as He has big plans for each of you.”


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