Commencement: To Begin Anew

Introductory Remarks, Headmaster Derek Tremblay

On behalf of the soon-to-be graduates, their parents, and the faculty of Mount Royal Academy, I welcome you to the 2018 commencement exercises.

After reminiscing with parents and faculty on Thursday night, a clear theme emerged. These are good-natured young men, boys at times, and not all of them are boys. Out of the 20 graduates here today, there are 2 young women after all. Don’t feel bad for them: they don’t feel bad for themselves.

During the Baccalaureate Mass, Fr. Michael exhorted the graduates to never forget the context of all the knowledge discovered: faith. Faith should lead us to seek refuge in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and as today’s feast reminds us, stopping by the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the way to Jesus only enhances our capacity to imitate those sacred virtues which emanate from the heart of Jesus.

And here we arrive at the culminating moment of this trifecta celebration, where you will be both discharged from the ceaseless nagging of at times a concerned faculty – Who would dare to refer to Dr. Kalpakgian as ‘dude’? – and yet charged to carry forth the charism that shaped you into the person you are now.

What is this charism I refer to? Since its inception, Mount Royal Academy has always been about first things first. There is this anchor that we are all connected to. Thus far, and strictly in the graduating sense, there have been 87 links added to that anchor. But I think that we are all keenly aware of who is attached to that anchor: parents, staff, and board members who left it all out there to bring us here today.

This anchor is the indelible imprint of grace – God himself in our midst. If there is one thing this mission excels at, it is that you know who you are and you know who God is. Every liturgical tradition that precedes any of us is connected to a larger history of Christians marked by the sign of God’s grace, disciples of Christ the Greatest Teacher, and acutely aware that living life to the full means living for God’s glory, not our own.

I am pleased to present to you the introducer of our keynote speaker. Although I have only heard faint glimpses of the days when Jesus played basketball at Franciscan University, Mr. McMenaman decided to leave the comforts of corporate life to enter the daily discomfort of forming hearts and broadening the minds of young people. He has mastered the art of feeding that natural skepticism about God with questions (sometimes answers) that lead students closer to their own discovery of God. He also took these young men to the varsity level of basketball, giving them an experience no other class until now can claim they experienced. This is his first graduating class in a sense: he arrived four years ago, at the same time these as these young people. I find it very fitting therefore that Mr. McMenaman tells you about one of his friends from the days when a bearded man with long hair looking eerily like Jesus graced the basketball court.

Closing Remarks, Headmaster Derek Tremblay

And now before we say our good-bye to this moment, I am sure the class of 2018 would understand why the attention needs to shift away from them.

Like I said on Thursday evening, this occasion is an opportunity for all of us to vicariously reflect on how we came to be who we are. There is a man in this room who we should all be thankful for. I am sure this school wouldn’t be what it is right now without him.

Quick little side note here with too much disclosure: According to Dave, when Peter asked Dave what was going to happen for his graduation party, Peter expressed disappointment that since they were no longer in Newport, he wasn’t going to have the opportunity to watch Dave and I crush a couple of beer logs. Andrew was my designated driver that night. We were celebrating the growth of the school. That just goes to show you that Dave likes to have a good time: he will think of any reason to throw a party.

I think we all know the magnanimous qualities of Dave. I think we all know Debbie is really the source of all those good qualities.

I just want to say it here and now cause I can, I am not where I am today without you brother. And I can speak for all of us here. Mount Royal without the Thibault family will be different, but we all understand who you live for.

Dave’s sacrificial offering for Catholic education is what I want to leave these graduates with. I am not in the classroom as much anymore, so I miss sharing my favorite scripture passages, and this one ranks pretty high up there. This is what it sounds like to suggest that the charism of our school is we know who God is, and who know we are. We know what this faith-filled lifestyle looks like. And it doesn’t look like what the world presents, because as Mother Teresa said, and I paraphrase: “In the final analysis, it is not between you and the things of the world, but between you and God.”

Though he was in the form of God

Jesus did not deem equality with God

something to be grasped at.

Rather, he emptied himself

and took on the form of a slave,

being born in the likeness of men.

He was known to be of human estate,

and it was thus that he humbled himself,

obediently accepting even death,

death on a cross!

Because of this,

God high exalted him and bestowed on him the name

above every other name.

So that at Jesus’ name

every knee must bend

in the heavens, on the earth,

and under the earth,

and every tongue proclaim

to the glory of God the Father:

JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!

One of the earliest Christian hymns from the letter to the Philippians.

To the class of 2018: do what you are already doing, but do it better. Live your life for another. Mean something to someone by making the ultimate sacrifice. Live your for life for God.

President of National Honor Society, Peter Thibault

Good morning, my name is Peter Thibault. As the president of the National Honor Society and member of the 2018 Senior class, I would like to thank you for joining us in celebrating our graduation from high school. Being a part of Mount Royal Academy is something special. I think I can speak for all the graduates in saying that looking back over our journey here at Mount Royal, we have come to realize that receiving a Catholic education has prepared us to be a light in the darkness.  Mount Royal Academy prepared us with a moral education that guides us to be the men and women God calls us to be.  The education we received has  prepared us for the challenges we will face throughout our lives. For no matter what happens we only have to remember the simple words, “Jesus I trust in you.”

Throughout our lives, our teachers, parents, siblings, grandparents, and friends have encouraged, pushed, aided, nurtured, and loved us because they saw potential in who we would become and what we could accomplish.  The example set by their dedication and selflessness empowers us to strive for greatness and should be the model to which we aspire.  A famous proverb states, “Be careful how you live your life, you may be the only Bible someone ever reads.”  I challenge us all, therefore, to develop three habits over the course of our lives.  First, we must dare to dream “semper altius”, always higher, in every aspect of our lives.  Second, we should always bring out the best in others by as Matthew Kelley states, “being the best version of ourselves”.  Finally, we should be an example to all those we encounter of what it means to serve others, inspired by the Gospel of Matthew which states, “Freely you have received, freely you are to give”.

Let’s take a moment to think about all those who have made our dreams a reality.  Personally, I know I would not be standing here today without the constant love and generosity of my parents and grandparents.  The beauty of their virtue is shown in how they treat each other and those around them.  It inspires me everyday to strive to achieve my goals and to follow in their footsteps.  I think I can speak on behalf of the entire senior class when I say, “Thank you mom and dad!”

It is an honor to be a part of this class of 2018.  Together, let’s rejoice that we have come this far, thank those who have made our accomplishments a reality, and look forward to the bright future ahead.  In whatever paths we choose, I hope we live in such a way that we accomplish our dreams, inspire others with our generosity, and use our gifts to make a difference in order to show the gratitude we owe to those who have helped us along the way.  Congratulations class of 2018!  Thank you. 

President of Student Government, Kolbe Bocko

I would just like to make one thing clear before I start my speech. That is, I am speaking for the benefit of my entire class while standing up here. I would like to start off with my thank you’s: Thank you teachers for all the sacrifices you have made while tolerating this wonderful senior class over the years. Thank you parents for benefiting so much of your time to this school every single day. Finally, we thank God for blessing this school with all the wonderful people and opportunities that come with them.

Now, I am not going to recite the cliche speech talking about my best memories I have of this school. Rather, I want to tell y’all what my senior class has learned throughout the years.

Every class we took ultimately taught us a life lesson that we cannot take for granted in the next part of our lives. History class taught us that even though hardships may have happened in the past, we must search to overcome those difficulties in the future. We must look back on our mistakes and rekindle them into things that are good for the benefit of the world around us. Mathematics taught us how to solve problems even when the problems may seem to lead you into a dead-end. We must persevere even through the harshest of conditions, because the end goal will always be worth the troubles that we overcome on the journey. Politics taught us that we must not always believe everything we hear from other people. We must seek the truth in a way that we know can influence the people around us. Art taught us that in every scrap piece of paper there is some kind of potential to make that piece of paper into something beautiful. We must not overlook the beauty that resides in every person and in every inch of the Earth. Engineering taught us how to work together in order to fulfill the task at hand. We must understand that sometimes it is better to work with others rather than holding the entire team on your back. English class I believe, and I think my entire class can back me up on this, is by far one of the more influential classes one can experience. This is because if you have a teacher as good as Dr. Kalpakgian who knows how to take simple to semi-complicated to very complicated books and transform them into philosophical rules to live by, we can take those lessons he taught us and act on them in our futures. Finally, religious class taught us how to stay faithful even when we are confronted by the ups and downs in life. We must stay on the path that we know is true, and do our best not to get sidetracked by the very convincing and well-paved roads that we may pass on our journey.

I would like to conclude with a quote from Dr. Kalpakgian that I will never forget, because it a quote that I personally live by: “Do your duty consciously and good things will happen.” No matter who you are or where you come from, everyone has a duty to uphold. Just get it done, no matter the provocations that try and hinder you on that journey of fulfilling your goal in life.

President of Junior High Student Government, Caleb North

It is customary for an 8th grader to give a speech during graduation. But today I am going to put a spin on it.

Instead of giving a speech this morning …..I would like to present a report,

a report of the “goings on” here at Mount Royal Academy I think you would be interested to know…..

First I would like to bring to light the “gang”,  and yes,  one even rides a motorcycle! They show up here at school, every morning,  before the rest of us  and plan our demise.

We have a doctor, Dr. Sansone… who insists on giving extra time in class for homework, has the patience of a saint and welcomes us…. with a smile…. every morning….. whether we need it or not!

Then,  we have our study hall and history teacher, Mr. Mihaly who is a “study guide perfectionist”,  he beats into our heads…all kinds of information,  that, no matter how hard we try, we can’t forget,

Then its 3rd period and we suffer the REALLY… REALLY… NICE one… Mrs. Lamontange

Oh ….she must be up to something, who can maintain that kind of positive energy all day, everyday… all year?     Hummmmm…. We are watching her!

Then the “de-limber” Ms. Bellavance in 4th who threatens to amputate poor Ralph, our stick figure friend, if we talk too much but thank goodness we can often make it all up with a good joke and an extra point

But it’s Mr.  “I got connections” that worries me…. Yes, Mr. D’Amico- he is very cool and his class is always fun but what about his connections?      I’ve been worrying about this all year!

Or maybe we will rustle up ninja star card games in our study hall with Mrs. Ouellette who knows everything you are doing and insists on helping you better yourself,

Or our religion teacher, Mrs. Richardson, who knows more about sports than my dad …and a singing Head Master, Mr. Tremblay who can make your name sound like the latest song on YouTube.

This is just a sample of what goes on here at Mount Royal Academy on a daily basis and it is quite…well……quite…………...AWESOME!

For most of us, we spend more instructional time with this “gang”(our amazing teachers) then perhaps our own caretakers at home. We depend on them, rely on them, look up to them and if we are lucky may even someday,   be a little like them too.

Making a bold statement such as….”A school that educates the whole child”, sure does promise a lot, but it is true we are cradled in spiritual, physical and educational excellence that has proven the test of time. This is my 5th year at Mount Royal, and I can truly say it has been a wonderful experience on every level. Sure, no school is perfect, but Mount Royal is perfectly in tune with each one of us. As we look forward to high school we know it will get harder on every level but we are not afraid we are prepared and we are ready for the next step because, we are not just “making memories”, we are learning, building character and confidence, exploring our own ideas, creating, being adventurous,  cementing morality and growing as a group of peers that are tolerant and caring… knowing there is a world waiting for us   that we would rather effect, than be affected by.

I have a short poem for my class, that if you bear with me, captures the essence of our 8th grade family including all its drama, friendship bumps and crazy antics. (of course all the while learning!)

A sassy girl that loves to eat, a guy whose hair is automatically neat,

Joe, who holds the door for ALL even Mr. Mihaly who’s not a girl.

Then there’s the chicken of the sea, and that one who made a diss track for me…. the meme team…..all three of them, but I especially love the deep theories from Ben.

One of the fastest runners in the school, Luke who roasts himself as a rule, basketball stars that shoot like Tatum… these are my friends  …I am SO glad God made them.

I want to individually thank each and every one of my classmates who have been here for me and who have furthered my experience at Mount Royal…

Annie Klucinec, Vinzenz Vingl, Joe Orlowski, Tino Prieto, Liam Ouellette, Ben Bellino

James Thibault, Luke Bartlett, Sam Hebert and Jesse McDonnell

I truly believe I can speak on behalf of my class 

Together we would like to thank….

Our faithful father God, our supportive and loving parents and family, our amazing teachers and all those in the Mount Royal Academy family, for ALL they do for us!

We are truly blessed!

Introduction of Detective McLaughlin

Our next speaker Detective McLaughlin grew up in Boston Massachusetts.  A city kid, he always played the good cop on the block. His mother always said that he would be a police officer someday. He joined the army before the recommended age of recruitment and dreamed of serving his country and local community.

While in college he began his career in the medical field working for St. Jude Medical Company, a position which helped him develop his people skills, serving doctors, nurses, and most especially patients.

After the attacks of September 11th, Mr. McLaughlin was deployed to Afghanistan and on his return could not bear the thought of giving up serving and protecting his fellow Americans. He served in the army for 14 years.

After his work in the medical field, Mr. McLaughlin studied for a new career as a police officer.  After interviewing with the New Hampshire Sate Police, he and his family moved to Grantham and began to live his lifelong dream to serve and protect.

Mr. McLaughlin’s two daughters, Maryrose and Kathryn, attend Mount Royal Academy.  He loves nothing more than to be called upon to serve in any way that he can.  Please welcome Detective Michael McLaughlin. 

Detective McLaughlin, Called to Duty Award

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

In December 2016, a 58-year-old man was pushed onto the subway tracks in New York City. Even though 60-90 seconds passed before an oncoming train hit the man, a group of about eighteen bystanders simply stood on the platform and looked on as the train approached and ran him over. One person, a freelance photographer used this time to snap photos of the man during his last moment of life.

Six months earlier, a 49-year old woman was grabbed and thrown onto the same subway tracks. One man, chased down the attacker, punched him, and then, hearing others yell for help as a train approached, turned and joined a group who pulled her off the tracks.

Two nearly identical situations; in the first, bystanders stand idly and do nothing as a man is killed. In the second, they step in to save a life. Why do some people freeze in a crisis, while others take action? Why do some run away from danger while others run toward it?

Everyone has been given a gift in life. Some people have a gift for math or science; some have a flair for art or music.   Some have been given the gift to heal  or teach others.  Then there are those among us who have been called to serve. 

SHEEP, WOLVES and SHEEPDOG

According to retired Army Lt. Col. Dave Grossman who is quoted in the movie American Sniper, the human population can be divided into three groups: WOLVES, SHEEP and SHEEPDOGs. 

WOLVES

WOLVES represent a small percentage of the population.  WOLVES are BAAA-AAAHd guys. They lurk in the shadows outside of the pastures. WOLVES are the evil in this world; the sociopaths who commit violent crimes against stray SHEEP or terrorists who prey on vulnerable FLOCKs.  WOLVES take advantage of the SHEEP’s tendency to be inexperienced with evil, unprepared for attack, and caught off guard. This allows the WOLVES to, feed on the SHEEP without mercy.

SHEEP

SHEEP represent the majority of people who go about their day to day lives and rarely encounter WOLVES.  Some SHEEP live in denial; they do not want to believe that there are WOLVES in the world. Most SHEEP are not faced life and death decisions. When faced with conflict, SHEEP will go with the flow, avoid making decisions, and generally just follow the HEARD. 

They largely move about with other SHEEP. They are content to live and graze, they cannot envision anything disrupting their peace or routine, and imagine that each day will proceed like the last. And just like SHEEP, most people depend on somebody else to protect and serve them.

SHEEPDOG

SHEEPDOGs protect the SHEEP.  SHEEPDOGs bark at the SHEEP, nip at them, run around in circles and stare them down to keep the SHEEP together and safe. SHEEPDOGs live with the FLOCK trying to blend in while watching for intruders within the herd.  SHEEPDOGs confront the WOLF and force the WOLVES to seek unprotected prey.  The SHEEPDOG is ready and willing to attack and fight the WOLF to the death.  

RESENT

The SHEEP generally do not like the SHEEPDOG because the SHEEPDOG looks a lot like the WOLF.  He has fangs like a WOLF. He is a constant reminder that there are WOLVES in the land. SHEEP find the SHEEPDOG annoying when things are good and safe. Most SHEEP grumble and complain about the SHEEPDOG…. That is until a WOLF shows up… Then the entire FLOCK will hide behind one lonely SHEEPDOG.  

STAY THE COURSE

The SHEEPDOG need not concern himself with the opinions of SHEEP, those who are first to cast stones, to criticize and condemn.  The SHEEPDOG is menacing not because he is like a WOLF, but because he dares to be different.  The SHEEPDOG protects the FLOCK despite the SHEEPS resentment towards him. 

WOLVES DO EXSIST

Just a few hours after the attacks on September 11, 2001; while the nation tried to comprehend what just happened.  SHEEP said to themselves, “Thank God I was not on one of those planes.” SHEEPDOGS on the other hand; at that same time; wished that they were on one of those planes because maybe they could have confronted the WOLVES and made a difference. 

While the rubble of the Twin Towers still smoldered and burned and at a time when we didn’t know where or when the WOLVES would strike next - I boarded a plane and flew to serve in Afghanistan.  On more than one occasion; I remember standing face to face with an Al Qaeda prisoner.  I recall something weird happening. To this day these are very vivid memories.  As I looked into their eyes, I felt time stand still.  There was a sudden, soul-shattering chill and a feeling of despair that came over me. I saw something,… something not human, staring back at me.  Something that I can only describe as evil or demonic – something that was dark and powerful.  Something that proved to me that WOLVES do exist in this world and that they want to kill SHEEP.   

On June 1, 2014 there was a Breaking News alert on TV.  United States Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl had been released by the Taliban.  In exchange; President Obama released Five long-term Afghan detainees from Guantanamo Bay.   Then; they flashed pictures of the released prisoners on the screen; there they were the same WOLVES whose eyes I had looked into 12 years prior.  The SHEEP had forgotten that the WOLVES will do anything to kill them.

WE FORGOT

The SHEEP had forgotten about the 3,000 citizens who died in a puff of ash and a cloud of smoke on 9/11.   The SHEEP had forgotten the SHEEPDOGs who ran towards those WOLVES to protect the HEARD.  The SHEEP had forgotten those SHEEPDOGS who died fighting and capturing those WOLVES.

While the SHEEP pretend the WOLF will never come back, there are those among you who have made a conscious and moral decision to dedicate and prepare yourselves for that moment when the WOLF does come knocking at the door...  again.

NEW SHEEPDOGs

Today’s SHEEPDOGs are brighter, better educated, better trained, better led, and better equipped than any SHEEPDOG of any other nation in history. They are modern knights, dawning armor and going to work each day armed with modern weapons and a noble cause to protect our society and ensure our safety. They will be taught chemistry, physics, ballistics, avionics, and electronics and they will operate and maintain the most sophisticated weapons and equipment ever designed by the hand and mind of man. Their bodies will be used like a weapon, and their weapon like a part of their body. They will have the ability to take a life….. or save one… depending on the circumstances. But; they will also stand ready to lay down their own lives to protect the flock. 

CALLED TO SERVE

While serving as SHEEPDOG; my service only brought temporary relief from the threats of the WOLF.  Now you are being called from the sidelines onto the battlefield to stand watch over the FLOCK.  Having been called into service may you give justice to the weak; maintain the rights of the afflicted; rescue the SHEEP; and deliver them from the hand of the WOLF.

High in the mountains lives a Shepherd with his loyal SHEEPDOG. 

Together they to move the FLOCK onto the right paths, and through dark valleys to green pastures and still waters.  And at the end of their journey, when this battle is over; the SHEEPDOG will stand before his Master; the Good Shepherd and He will say to the SHEEPDOG; well done, good and faithful servant; and the SHEEPDOG will be welcomed into the Master’s house.   

Let us pray for our SHEEPDOGs:

Almighty God and King of Kings, grant us Your spirit of power that Your servants may stand against the wiles of the devil. Train their hands and minds for battle that they may defend our beloved people and our faith against those who rise up against us.

O Lord, use them as Your battle axe. Let the angels of war be released on their behalf. Grant that they may throw fire, thunder, and stones of fire to destroy the powers of evil.

Strike fear into the hearts of their adversaries and manifest Your glory as Good Shepherd. For You our mighty Deliverer are at their side with Your rod and Your staff to give them courage and strength,– We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord,

Amen.