Aquinas High School sent off 112 new graduates to their promising futures on Saturday, June 1, during the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2019, a class that earned a 100 percent graduation rate with 98 percent going to college.
The ceremony, held at the school’s football stadium, opened with the national anthem sung by Pia Portea and Emily Mistica and featured speeches by salutatorians Isabella Kehl and Preston Bonadiman.
Principal Christopher Barrows described the class of 2019 as the school’s most diverse “in all senses of the word” coming from different backgrounds, holding different interests and will be leaving high school for a great diversity of colleges and headed for a variety unique futures.
“What they share in common is they are all hard workers, and it will be great to see where they all end up in five to 15 years,” Barrows said.
“This diverse class exceeded our expectations for them,” Barrows added. “As college acceptances began rolling in we were pleasantly surprised and proud of them for fulfilling those goals they set for themselves.”
Emily Mistica earned the class valedictorian award with a 4.76 GPA. She was also recognized for her involvement in the school’s robotics team and served more than 240 community service hours.
Harrison Coe earned the school’s community service award after volunteering for 348 service hours, most in this year’s class and well above the 100 hours required by the school’s graduation requirements.
Jeff Enriquez earned the Academic Excellence Award with a GPA of 4.58.
Other awards presented during the ceremony included the Falcon Spirit Award to Matthew Castellanos, the Campus Ministry Award to Fabrisio Lopez and the St. Thomas Aquinas Leadership Award to Melissa Sanchez.
Commencement speaker Seventh Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of San Bernardino Samuel Torres praised the students’ parents for their commitment to their children’s education and Catholic education’s emphasis on preparing students academically, spiritually and culturally for their future roles as leaders.
“We made it. We finished… We stuck together and pulled through. It was tough but we all managed,” said Bonadiman. “We are now given the opportunity to go out and make a future that will make our high school selves proud.”
“We can place no price on unconditional love,” Kehl said speaking of the love and support she and her classmates received from their families. “Our families are our most loyal supporters, our biggest fans, our greatest defenders, our primary educators.”
“Aquinas is not a building; it is a community. You will always be part of Aquinas. You will always be welcome here,” said Aquinas President Jim Brennan. “You are strong leaders. Your parents and we are proud. We have tried to help you grow along those ways. We are to the point now where it’s time for you to take over and becomes the leaders you are going to be. Go forward and do that.”