St. Thomas of Villanova bids farewell to its 2017 graduates

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School has said farewell to its graduating class of 2017.

Over 320 graduates were honoured at last Wednesday night’s graduation ceremony, held at the WFCU Centre in Windsor. This year’s valedictorian was Brandon Meloche, who said he was “a terrified Grade 9” four years ago and “now I’m speaking to hundreds of people.

“The moment we’ve been waiting for is here, and this event has only transpired due to the guidance of our teachers, our friends and our families,” said Meloche.

he graduates of St. Thomas of Villanova listen to valedictorian Brandon Meloche’s address at the WFCU Centre in Windsor.

he graduates of St. Thomas of Villanova listen to valedictorian Brandon Meloche’s address at the WFCU Centre in Windsor.

Meloche added that the “four year journey” to graduation has been completed and now they are young Canadians “hoping to take on the world.” He stated that going to school at Villanova “has been a crucible of events” that has shaped their futures.

“We all lived through lockdown drills, homecomings, sports games, spirit weeks and exams,” said Meloche. “We lived through the union strike that scarred our school community for over a month. It divided us, it separated us, but through weeks of hard work and waiting, the few who refused to talk learned that if you aggress upon the right to collective bargaining, the union’s people will not relent!”

Meloche reflected on past memories of their days at Villanova, including getting lost in the halls in Grade 9 and hearing about “the pool on the third floor,” the “lip dub” video in Grade 10 and school trips to Europe and Costa Rica.

Villanova principal Amy Facchineri addresses the graduates at the June 28 graduation ceremony.

Villanova principal Amy Facchineri addresses the graduates at the June 28 graduation ceremony.

Their Villanova experiences went from being “thrown into a new, overwhelming arena to begin building a legacy and a future to believe in” during Grade 9 to Grade 12 where he joked they were “rulers and governors, and some dictators, of the building. We owned the halls, the sports fields and the caf(eteria). We readied ourselves to leave these comfortable halls and begin our transcendence toward the future.”

The graduating students have celebrated amazing times and went through horrific times, he added, recalling triumphs in academic competition and sports games. He also recalled the bad times, including the loss of six former and current Wildcats over the last four years.

The students have become “charitable, caring citizens who have raised thousands of dollars and cans for charity.” Meloche continued that “we’ve learned to grow in mind with the guidance of our teachers, who have in some ways become models for us in terms of personality and work ethic.”

Meloche said he has developed greatly as a person in the halls of Villanova, not just in physical dimensions but also in character, and gained confidence each year. He believed many others did as well.

“Today marks a great end, but an even greater beginning,” said Meloche, as he thanked the many departments within Villanova. “To the people, my fellow graduates, thank you for all you’ve done. Thank you for choosing me to be your voice. Thank you for this journey.”

Greetings were also brought by salutatorian Joey Corio as well as Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board superintendent Joseph Ibrahim and Amherstburg/LaSalle trustee Frank DiTomasso.

St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School valedictorian Brandon Meloche addresses his fellow graduates.

St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School valedictorian Brandon Meloche addresses his fellow graduates.

Principal Amy Facchineri wished this year’s graduates all the best.

“I hope and pray your future will be a successful one, filled with everything you want it to be,” she told the graduates.

Facchineri said that success is defined by some as money and possessions, but Villanova tries to teach that success is also defined by personal character rather than material success.

Graduates need to be out of their comfort zones, but not their talent zones, she continued, and further stated that failure is not the enemy, complacency is.

The graduates have contributed from an academic, athletic, extra-curricular and community perspective, Facchineri added, and that the school “feels blessed” to be part of that.

Facchineri encouraged the graduates to meet all the challenges that life gives them to meet and to keep doing the right things in life.

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