The road ahead for St. Francis grads

The residential streets surrounding St. Francis High School were lined Saturday morning with cars showcasing messages including “Congratulations” and “2011 SFHS graduate.”

Hundreds of family members and friends gathered in the courtyard of the Catholic high school to watch 166 young men graduate as members of the class of 2011 in a 10 a.m. ceremony.

The school’s president, Father Antonio Marti, OFM Capuchin, led the invocation, and senior class president Paolo Gutierrez Veneracion welcomed the crowd with a short speech before awards and diplomas were handed out.

Ethan Julian Liwanag was honored as class valedictorian, and Eugene Choi and Theodore J. Williams shared the honor of salutatorians. Liwanag also received the Capuchin Award and Medal for Scholarship.

“First, I want to thank our parents. Without them we’d be homeless and couldn’t afford our tuition,” liwanag joked. “In all seriousness though, I thank them for all of their support while we completed high school.”

In a class with high grade point averages, many students received honors in addition to their designations of cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude.

The Father Lawrence Caruso Memorial College Scholarship was awarded to Matthew J. Ramirez, and Edwin Takashi Brewer received the National Honor Society Certificate of Merit and the California Scholarship Federation Sealbearer Scholarship.

Fifty-six graduates earned the Special St. Francis High School Honors Diploma, which recognizes a student’s faithful service, academic excellence and participation in at least one senior advanced placement course.

Administrators and faculty awarded stand-out students in specific areas of study with the Capuchin Medals in the following areas: art, David L. Salazar; athletics, David M. Hubinger; biology, Alexander J. Sercel; chemistry, Ethan J. Liwanag; chorus, Nicholas M. Bruno; computer science, Russell C. Mays; drumline, Nicholas J. Ferraro; economics, Armen Ter-Zakarian; English, Matthew D. De La Peza; European history, Marc A. Magallanes; kinesiology, David M. Hubinger; Latin, Nicholas Alec Camarena DeCesare; mathematics, Armen D. Hadjimanoukian; physics, Theodore J. Williams; religion, Matthew A. Susank; Spanish, Manuel A. Ocana, Jr.; theater, Edwin Takashi Brewer; United States government, Daniel Hyung Min Chu; and United States history, Eugene Choi.

Students were nominated by faculty as candidates for certificates of excellence in specific fields of study: computer science, Alexi V. Carapetian; English, Steven W. Johnson; fine arts, Nicholas M. Bruno; foreign language, David P. Delgado; mass media, Mathew P. Cohen and Andrew D. Pilmer; mathematics, Theodore J. Williams; religion, Christopher J. Ferro; science, Edward J. Kronfli, III and Cody S. Wirosko; and Social Studies, Patrick O’Brien Davitt and Eric A. Verso.

Because St. Francis High School is a Catholic institution, the school also recognized eight young men for their volunteer service efforts with Community Service Awards.

Despite the academic and personal achievements recognized in the class of 2011, Thomas G. Moran, veteran teacher and school principal, spoke about the connection between failure and success, naming Michael Jordan, Marilyn Monroe, Albert Einstein and Ludwig Von Beethoven as famous individuals who were once told they didn’t have the skills to succeed.

“This has been a very special class, but I’ve had trouble preparing this speech,” Moran told the graduates. “It seems counterintuitive to speak about failure, especially to all of this given success….we gain success more readily through failure. Be assured that when you do fail, what matters is your response.”

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