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Graduation '18: Traditions & A Historic First
Rachelle Garbarine

It was a sun-kissed May weekend filled with a historic first and long-standing traditions as the 385 members of the Cardinal Gibbons High School Class of 2018 joined in fellowship at Baccalaureate Mass and two days later turned their tassels and celebrated a milestone achievement: high school graduation. 

Graduation weekend - Friday May 25 and Sunday May 27, 2018 – were days when graduates and parents alike commemorated academic achievement, close friendships, family, and faith. As the final notes of "Pomp and Circumstance" faded into the distance on Sunday afternoon, it was, all agreed, a time they long will remember.

It started early Friday evening when graduates, families, and friends, in a historic Gibbons first, gathered at Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, formerly the site of Cardinal Gibbons High School, for Baccalaureate Mass. The Most Reverend Luis Rafael Zarama, Bishop of Raleigh, was the principal celebrant at the Mass; he was joined by 13 priests from throughout the Diocese. In his homily, Bishop Zarama told the students that time is the best gift from God and that they should use it. Later that evening, Jacob Miles ’18, a member of the executive student council, gave an inspiring, heartfelt speech to the audience. (Read Jacob’s speech)

At Sunday afternoon's graduation seniors gathered one last time as the Class of 2018. In customary Gibbons tradition the students - girls dressed in white caps and gowns and carrying yellow roses; boys dressed in green caps and gowns - filled NC State University’s Reynolds Coliseum as the Cardinal Gibbons community stood by to honor the graduates.

“As you go forward,” said Principal Jason Curtis, “I want you to be fully present at all times and in every way … and to share your gifts with love and empathy.”

At graduation, Principal Jason D. Curtis addressed the seniors, including his daughter, Emily, without a written speech and stood among them rather than on stage behind a podium. Face-to-face with the students, he talked about the importance of being fully present. He told them it is not the big events in life but rather the quiet moments – sitting on a bench or riding on a bus with friends - when we are fully present. “As you go forward,” he said, “I want you to be fully present at all times and in every way … and to share your gifts with love and empathy.”

Group Shot at graduation 2018

He then told the Class of 2018: “There are two certainties in life: You will run out of time at some point, yet you also have control over the time you have right now. Make it your priority to be fully present now in the way you have been called to be to God and to others…”  He then told the graduates how much he and all the people gathered in the auditorium loved them. “Go out into the world, and then come back being fully present,” he implored the graduates, “that is the gift you will give us every time you come home… I can’t wait for you to come home and fill our hearts with your presence.”

This year's valedictorian, Victoria DiMelis ’18, who is headed to Stanford University in California, and salutatorian, Christopher Labaza ’18, who will attend Emory University, delivered their speeches to an attentive audience. (Read speeches by the valedictorian and the salutatorian.) Principal Curtis presented diplomas to all the seniors as well as special commencement awards to certain students. (View the list of students and the awards they received.)

Cap toss, graduation 2018

This year's graduates, like others before them, enjoy 100 percent acceptance to some of the nation's finest colleges and universities. (View list of graduates and college acceptances.) Additionally, members of the Class of 2018 received $18 million in scholarships.

Before the cap toss, the newly minted graduates, sang "Wagon Wheel," a song familiar to them, thanks to English Educator Michael Friedman who plays it most every Friday between classes, making it an 'Only at Gibbons' tradition. Commencement 2018 ended when the sea of white and green mortarboards came raining down on the late afternoon crowd gathered in front of Reynolds Coliseum.