IMG_9880Saint Viator High School’s 54th annual commencement ceremony took place Monday and it was steeped in tradition, with awards, speeches and the procession of graduates set to “Pomp and Circumstance.”

Yet, the ceremony also established some new traditions. For starters, graduation took place on a Monday night, in order to limit any complications with college graduations. What’s more, President Brian Liedlich awarded diplomas to graduates in his first year as president.

IMG_9980“The class of 2017 is a truly remarkable group of young women and men,” he said. “They are highly intelligent, personally gifted and are genuinely good people.”

In keeping with tradition, Paulina Piowarczyk addressed the audience as valedictorian of the class. She used a road-trip metaphor to describe her four years at Saint Viator, with some detours and roadside attractions along the way, which have made the journey memorable.

“This is what I am challenging each and every person to do,” Paulina said. “Open your eyes, truly look around and realize how wonderful life is, even in its most mundane moments.”

IMG_0053The night also featured two of the most prestigious honors presented to outstanding seniors, the Andrew Johnstone Award and the Christopher Cup.

Senior Preetha Raj was named the 2017 winner of the Andrew Johnstone Award. The honor was created in memory of Andrew Johnstone, who died in the summer of 1991, before the start of his senior year, when he would have served as class president. For the last 25 years, his parents have presented the award personally to each recipient. This year, Mr. Lielich presented the award to Preetha, who was chosen for her outstanding leadership and spirit.

Preetha has served as secretary of her senior class, while also mentoring underclassmen as a LINK crew leader and as the senior goalie and co-captain of the girls’ lacrosse team. This fall, she heads to Chapman University in Orange County California to play lacrosse.

zacjonesThe final award of the night, the Christopher Erdmann Award, went to Zachary Jones, whose name now will be etched on the Christopher Cup, along with more than 45 other prestigious winners. The award was created in memory of Christopher Erdmann ‘68, who passed away from leukemia. It was created to recognize a student who has taken active involvement and leadership in the improvement of Saint Viator High School.

Zac is a National Merit Finalist and Fr. Louis Querbes Scholar, who served on Student Council and as a mentor to underclassmen as a LINK leader. He performed in nearly all of the school’s plays and musicals during his four years, but he also worked to heighten global concern and service among his classmates through Catholic Relief Services’ global awareness program. Zac will attend Yale University in the fall.