Saint Dominic Academy hosts graduation for Class of 2024, welcomes Bishop James Ruggieri to campus

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” Valedictorian Abigail Piotrowski shared this quote from the beloved character Winnie the Pooh with her classmates. The school held its graduation ceremony for the class of 2024 on Friday, May 24 at its Auburn campus, with Bishop James Ruggieri in attendance. Bishop Ruggieri offered remarks of congratulations and hope, handed out diplomas and gave the Benediction to the class of 2024. 

Reverend Daniel Greenleaf, pastor of Prince of Peace Parish in Lewiston, offered the Invocation at the ceremony, praying for the graduates, “Holy Father…at this momentous occasion we turn to you, asking that you send your Holy Spirit to be with them as they prepare for a new chapter in life. Help them not be discouraged by their failings and weaknesses, but instead to see the goodness and beauty of the life and blessings that you have given them.”

Abigail Piotrowski’s speech inspired her classmates to persevere. She told her graduating class that trial is unavoidable, but failure is not.

“In order to combat our circumstances, we need something to rely on. Something dependable,” she said. “I hope you have at least discovered what it feels like to stand up for a cause worth fighting for: Supporting literacy by reading to young children, stopping the stigma by acknowledging mental health disorders, contributing love to our community torn apart by the October shooting. You have the power to advocate - use it to care for those in need.”

Salutatorian Anna Geyer-Shaheen reflected on starting their first year during the pandemic. She said in those challenging times, they still fostered a community together and new friendships.

“The beautiful thing about St. Dom’s is that we are more than just an institution. We are a family, united through a belief in God, creating an unfaltering community that produces students who strive to make a difference in the world around us,” Geyer-Shaheen said. “As we walk away from this school today, we know that our departure is not permanent because we will carry with us the priceless friendships, memories, and skills we have learned.”

“As you throw your cap into the air, let go of the worries, the mistakes, the frustrations of the past four years. But hold on tight to your values and commitments,” Piotrowski said.

Maine Catholic School Superintendent Marianne Pelletier thanked the graduates and their families for making the choice and sacrifice to attend Saint Dominic Academy. Pelletier mirrored the emotions the class of 2024 felt as she will be retiring in early July.

“I challenge you to move forward in your life, remembering that you are a disciple of Christ. Your words and actions define you. Be kind. Be forgiving. Be merciful. Be respectful. Be patient,” Pelletier said.

“May Veritas Vitae be a motto that carries with you throughout your lives. Always remember that Our Lord Jesus Christ and all that He lived and died for is living on in you,” Saint Dominic Academy Principal Alanna Stevenson said. “You are ready to bring His love out into the world in ways that you or I can only imagine. I and the entire staff at St. Dom’s are better for knowing you, and we will cherish memories of you for the rest of our lives.”

While the class of 2024 is now leaving the Saint Dominic Academy campus, board chair and soon to be principal, Kathy Martin, urged the graduates to use the knowledge they gained from Saint Dominic Academy as the secret for their success in the future.

“Through study, you have honed your ability to think critically and solve problems creatively. Through prayer, you’ve learned to cultivate inner strength and seek spiritual guidance,” Martin said. “Through community, you’ve experienced the power of collaboration and built lasting friendships. Through service, you’ve embraced the importance of compassion and leadership. As you step into the next phase of your journey, I urge you to carry these values with you. Let your education at St. Dom’s be the bedrock upon which you build a life of purpose and integrity.”

The class of 2024 selected a faculty member to speak on its behalf. The class of 2024 chose Mrs. Kelly Angell who touched on the resiliency of the graduating seniors.

“They weathered the return to school after the COVID shutdown as freshmen, the aftermath October’s tragedy in our community this year with the class organizing a fundraiser for the victims and their 37 families before we were even back at school, and the ups and downs of life in general,” Angell said to the crowd.

Saint Dominic Academy also welcomed back its distinguished alumni from the class of 1974 as they celebrated their 50th class reunion with Golden Diplomas handed out by Bishop James Ruggieri.

Students who have achieved the honor of graduating Cum Laude (with distinction) are Avery Gravel and Hailey Hughes. Students who have achieved the honor of graduating Magna Cum Laude (with great distinction) are Georgiana Davidson and Timothée Ouellette. Students who have achieved the honor of graduating Summa Cum Laude (the highest distinction) are Rieslynn Bernier, Connor Cyr and Kyle Reed.

The Saint Dominic Academy class of 2024, with 26 members, includes Rieslynn Sage Bernier, Ryan Robert Lester Bussiere, Logan Brayden Carey, Thomas James Casserly, Connor Lance Cyr, Georgiana Laird Davidson, Ridge Ronald Dionne, Gianna Belle Rosa Errico, Anna Katrina Geyer-Shaheen, Avery Karis Gravel, Ashton Kalib Hammond, Lauren Marie Hanlon, Peter Thomas Hayes, Hailey Faith Hughes, Garrett Michael Kendall, Jayden Dean Lynn, Timothée Raymond Ouellette, Efthymios Pappas, Ethan Daniel Pelletier, Campbell Chance Perryman, Abigail Nichole Piotrowski, Nevaeh Juliette Poulin, Kyle Scott Reed, Bobo Shema, Emma Young Smith and Aiden John Walling.

Saint Dominic Academy is a Catholic co-educational, college preparatory day school under the patronage of the Diocese of Portland for students in grades pre-K to 12. Saint Dominic Academy serves nearly 475 students with just over 200 pre-K through fifth grade students at the Lewiston campus and 265 sixth through 12th grade students in Auburn.  

Class of 2024 throwing their caps up in the air
graduates sitting
speeches at graduation
graduates marching to the graduation
Principal speaking at graduation
speeches at graduation
Bishop Ruggieri handing out diplomas