National Merit Semifinalist
CHSL Academic All-Scholastic Awards
National Latin Exam Summa cum Laude
National Honor Society
National Latin Honor Society
National Spanish Honor Society
Ike Onwuzurike Angels Fund Scholarship
Kenya Relief Team
Summer in the City
Rector of Kairos #67
Band Captain, St. Padre Pio
Brother Rice Board of Directors, Mr. Reidy, Mr. O, faculty and staff, family, friends, and fellow graduates of the class of 2018, it seems an impossible task to adequately express how impactful these last four years have been on my life, but I will do my best to do just that and to keep it brief. To better understand why this school is so important to me, I will tell you all a little about myself. My family is everything to me. By the time I was nine years old, I was blessed to have two loving parents, an older brother, and four younger sisters. It was always so fun at home because I was never alone. But the year after my youngest sister was born, my dad was diagnosed with leukemia. He fought a short, 6-month battle, and died just 5 days before my eleventh birthday. My life was never the same after that. My older brother, Spencer, and I drifted apart as he had to deal with his own feelings and his transition into his first year at Seaholm High School. I started fighting more and more with my sisters. My house that was once so loud and fun seemed like it was empty.
The first thing I am grateful to Brother Rice for was a couple years before I even enrolled here. After his freshman year, my older brother Spencer transferred to Brother Rice High School. He struggled a bit at Seaholm, but everything changed after he made the switch to Brother Rice. He went from summer school to the honor roll in just one year. It wasn’t until my brother’s junior year that I really understood the impact that Brother Rice made on my brother. The day he got back from the Kairos retreat, he gave me a hug for the first time in years, and I knew I had my brother back.
Far and away the most important thing that sets Brother Rice apart is the Band of Brothers. Structurally, it is a unique way for freshmen to create bonds with people across all four grades, and it is also a way for upperclassmen to be leaders for the new students. But this ideal transcends those ten minutes of homeroom five days a week. The Band of Brothers is all about being a part of something bigger than yourself. It’s about fighting not for personal gain, but for the people next to you. Family has always been important to me, and during my time at Brother Rice, my family got a whole lot bigger. Along with my own brother, I had countless other upperclassmen take me under their wing and look out for me. I even had a chance to look after the younger brothers that I always wanted. And then there are the people here.
When my brother left for college after my freshman year, I thought I had lost my only brother for most of the year. I love my mom and my sisters, but I did not look forward to being the only guy in the house. Whether I knew it then or not, I already had hundreds of brothers that made a lasting impact on my life. Of the 152 people I am honored to graduate with today, there are some of my closest friends from St. Hugo that I have known forever. There are people who I only met four years ago that I can’t imagine my life without. All 152 of these guys have made a positive impact on my life in one way or another, and I will eternally be grateful for it. Last Thursday I looked around the room at dinner, and I realized just how much I was going to miss this group of people I have gotten so close to. It’s just like freshman year again, but instead of one brother, it’s 152.
Looking over the last four years, I have realized it wasn’t just brothers that I gained from this school. Ever since I was 10 years old, I was missing the guidance of a father. Everyone knows how important of an example the father is for the development of young men. It was this year when I realized how many father figures I gained from this community. From the fathers of other students to teachers to coaches, I always had some sort of guidance. I’ve had so many great men to look up to, and I knew they were looking out for me. One great example is James Higdon. He has been through a lot in the 25 years of his life. To me, he is the perfect example of making the most of what life brings. Despite all of the loss he has suffered, he is one of the happiest and funniest people I know, and I will always look up to him. You hear a lot of statistics about people who grow up without a father in their lives: more likely to drop out, go to jail and abuse substances. But I can rest assured that my family is in great hands, thanks to the Brother Rice community.
After four years, I have a lot of “thank you”s to make. Thank you to all the faculty and staff at Brother Rice, for always making me feel at home the last four years. Thank you to all the families of the guys here, for taking me in and raising such great men. Thank you for the all the K67 guys – never forget we were the best Kairos ever. Thank you to Mr. Venos and Mr. Ciesielski for always believing in me even though I may not have been the best swimmer on the team. Thank you to the six other senior swimmers for being some of the only reasons I made it through swimming. And finally, there’s my family: Caroline, thanks for being so funny and always brightening my day. CC and Lizzy, thanks for dealing with me even though I wasn’t always the best brother to you two. Mary, thanks for being my best friend, for laughing with me at the dining room table as we did our homework, and for never staying mad at me for too long. Being the oldest is a big responsibility, but I know you can take it. Spencer, thank you for always looking out for me whether I knew it or not. And mom, it blows my mind how you’ve done everything you have the last 7 years. Thank you for taking up the role of both parents for six kids and somehow making time for me. Thanks for giving me everything I could ever wish for. I know Dad smiles every day knowing how great of a job you’re doing raising us.
So here we are. Our four years have come to an end. But all of us are still teenagers, and I’m so excited to see all the great things that are in store for all of you guys. We’ve all come a long way, but this is just the beginning. It’s with a heavy heart that for one last time as a Brother Rice student I get to say:
Live Jesus in Our Hearts. Forever