'Fly, eagles, fly!' East Catholic Class of 2013 celebrates commencement

By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Fri., Jun. 7, 2013
The East Catholic 2013 Class Officers: Class Secretary Elsie Koduah, Class Vice President Lauren Driscoll, Class President Wesley Langlai and Class Treasurer Maggie Mills. Photo by Christian Mysliwiec. - Contributed Photo

As the members of the Class of 2013 at East Catholic High School in Manchester reflected on the four years that led them to the commencement ceremonies at St. Joseph's Cathedral in Hartford on Thursday, June 6, there was one thing they agreed on: They all faced their difficulties together.

“The Class of 2013 has actually gone through some unique circumstances. In the course of four years, we have seen three principals, and some of us have had four guidance/college counselors. Therefore, things at times didn't always feel entirely consistent,” said Senior Class President Wesley Langlais. “Because of this, we have had to rely on our classmates and close friends a little more than I believe anyone anticipated.”

Langlais will be attending George Washington University in Washington, D.C., next fall, where he hopes to study law, business and politics. Looking back, one of his fondest memories at East Catholic was his participation and eventual leadership in Kairos retreats, a three-day retreat that allows students to escape technology and other modern-day stressors, and take time to reflect.

At commencement, Langlais welcomed the Most Rev. Henry Mansell, Archbishop of the Hartford Archdiocese, Superintendent of Catholic Schools Dr. Dale Hoyt, East Catholic faculty and staff, the friends and family of graduates, and his classmates. Referencing the many transitions that characterized the Class of 2013's experience at East Catholic, Langlais said one thing remained constant: “For the past four years our class has been there for each other,” he said. “We are very similar to a family. Like every family, we have not always been in perfect harmony, however we have collectively overcome our differences.”

Senior Class Vice President Lauren Driscoll said she will miss playing basketball and field hockey at East Catholic, as well as powder puff football games and Kairos retreats. But she is also looking forward to attending Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., where she hopes to major in accounting and minor in theology. Her career goal is to work in the Boston area for an accounting firm.

“Although tonight concludes our high school career, it also serves as the beginning of greater pursuits,” said Driscoll during commencement. While graduates may be nervous to end a chapter of their lives and jump into the unknown, Driscoll reminded them that they have done it before.

“Just four years ago, we were preparing to graduate from the eighth grade and enter the unfamiliar territory of East Catholic. We were both anxious and excited to begin a new journey,” she said. Their time at East Catholic has equipped them with new tools to face the future. “East Catholic has helped to shape us into the young adults that we are today, but now it is our turn. It is time for us to go out into the world and leave our mark, as we have with East Catholic,” she said. She ended with a quote from Steve Jobs: “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Senior Class Treasurer Maggie Mills will be attending Villanova University. She hopes to major in biology with a concentration in cognitive science and looks forward to a career in the medical field. Like her fellow officers, she is deeply appreciative of how close her class is. “I think what makes us so special, though, is that although our class is made of very different people with unique interests, we have all come together and been able to really support and appreciate each other,” Mills said.

Mills read Biblical passage Zephaniah 3:14-20 at commencement, which describes God standing by his people as a protector. She reflected on this prayer and related it to her class's four years at East Catholic.

“God has been with you on the journey to graduation. He has meditated with you before your big race, has listened to the pep talks that got you through late nights of studying, has been in the car with you the times you drove with friends and felt that everything was perfect, has sat with you when you prayed, and joined you in the final steps before you walked into the cathedral tonight,” she said. “Through all of these instances, both significant and insignificant, God has been your number-one fan.”

“Ahead, we will face many days of endless possibilities, all with God by our sides,” said Mills.

Senior Class Secretary Elsie Koduah will be attending Quinnipiac University in the fall, where she plans on majoring in biology. She hopes to attend medical school after, and become an anesthesiologist. She also sees the Class of 2013 as a family that has stuck together - “throughout the good times and bad” - and some of her fondest memories are the times the class showed their school spirit as sporting events, especially the CIAC hockey championship game at Yale.

Koduah introduced the graduation guest speaker, Dr. Susan Trocciola, an attending cardiothoracic surgeon at Bornemann Cardiothoracic Associates in Reading, Penn., and an East Catholic alum from the Class of 1987.

Trocciola began her speech with an African parable about the baby eagle who was raised by chickens. When the eagle grew up and yearned to soar, his family told him that chickens do not soar, and so the eagle stifled his dream.

“I leave you with the words of Desmond Tutu… 'And God says to all of us, you are not a chicken; you are an eagle. Fly, eagle, fly,'” quoted Trocciola. “'Rise to become what God intends us to be - eagles, not chickens.'”

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