Pomp and Circumstance rang through Saint George Ukrainian Catholic Church as St. George Academy High School graduated 19 students for its’ 56th graduating class during commencement exercises held on Saturday, June 9, 2007.
An overall mood of accomplishment, pride and spirituality emanated throughout the commencements, where the possibilities of hope and promise of the future unfolded in a tapestry of smiles, tears and love.
Bishop Paul Chomnycky, O.S.B.M. Eparch of the Stamford Diocese, celebrated the liturgy with Fr. Bernard Panczuk, O.S.B.M., pastor of St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church in New York City. Upon completion of the liturgy, commencement exercises continued in the beautiful sanctuary with the singing of the national anthems.
Valedictorian, Ilona Bilevych cheerfully gave individual thanks to every teacher, highlighting specific contributions they made not only for her own personal education, but for the entire graduating class as well. Tears began to flow as she articulately conveyed her joy in sharing her four years of high school education with her classmates. Her beautifully delivered valedictorian address in Ukrainian delighted fellow students, family and friends. One could easily recognize the polish and preparedness in her address; a testament to her success and achievement at the school, being awarded the highest academic honor afforded any graduate…the honor of being the class valedictorian.
Salutatorian Ju Lee Yoo delivered her address in English with thanks for the opportunity to study at St. George Academy. She focused her address on her belief in God, her personal spirituality and on how St. George Academy allowed her the environment to grow within high academic standards and unfaltering spiritual guidance.
Mr. Peter P. Shyshka, Principal of the Academy and Superintendent for the Ukrainian Catholic Diocese of Stamford eloquently delivered a spirited address in which he stated: “Today is a day which calls you to be like David – to do battle with the Goliaths of this world in making the world safer for the elderly, the sick, the homeless and the disenfranchised… you are called to be like Mary, the Mother of Jesus, to be humble, caring, patient and understanding in a world that is filled with pride and selfishness… and finally you are called to be like Jesus, to love others, to do what is right and just – even at the expense of your friends or your life.”
These powerful words not only inspired the graduates and their guests, but it reminded all as to the value of a Catholic school education and the spiritual guidance provided these students for four years. It not only prepares students for future academic challenges, but it teaches students to be good people and always do the right thing.
Bishop Chomnycky, O.S.B.M. and Fr. Bernard Panczuk, O.S.B.M. distributed the diplomas and the graduates proceeded with their recessional to “Pomp and Circumstance”, played live by pianist Andrij Stasiw. Afterwards, a reception was held at the school as students bid tearful farewells to teachers and their peers. With the tireless efforts of Irene Saviano, administrative assistant at the high school, the 2007 commencements were flawless and beautifully prepared.
Earlier in the day, the 8th Grade graduating class of the elementary school also held their commencements with equal dignity and pride. Saint George Schools located in NYC are accepting applications for the 2008/2009 academic year.