St. Ignatius College Preparatory's 163rd commencement exercises were held at the University of San Francisco War Memorial Gymnasium in a return to a more traditional graduation ceremony after two years disrupted by the pandemic, while the Fr. Sauer Academy held its fifth commencement exercises in the Carlin Commons, on SI's campus.
Throughout SI's commencement, speakers acknowledged that the experience for the Class of 2022 was not what anybody expected when they first came through SI's doors. However, the day was filled with gratitude for what these students brought to the SI community, awe for their abilities and accomplishments, and optimism for their futures. In her remarks, Principal Michelle Nevin Levine exhorted the graduates, "After you celebrate today, go and lead. Do it like so many leaders have before you, with honesty, with open hearts. We need you, and you're ready."
Valedictorian Tommy DeBenedetti ’22 followed with a speech reflecting on his classmates' resilience over their four years at SI, and referencing the Greek tale of Orpheus and Eurydice throughout. He concluded, "Amidst all of the chaos in store for us, I urge you – and I know we are capable – do not give up on love."
Three awards were bestowed upon seniors who distinguished themselves over their time at SI. All three graduates excelled in multiple ways both in and out of the classroom, and were each cited for their passion and service. The Loyalty Award was given to Mia Aaronson ’22, the Anthony P. Sauer, S.J., General Excellence Award was given to Jackie Acosta ’22, and the Ignatian Award, SI's highest honor, was given to Dory Miller ’22.
SI's vice president for advancement, Joe Vollert ’84, gave the final address before the conferring of diplomas. He said, "Four years ago, we made a promise to you to educate and form an Ignatian for and with others; to instill the moral, intellectual, and spiritual rigor to respond courageously to the challenges of our time. Do not judge us today on how we have done. Rather, judge us a year from now when they are the best writers in their class, or in 10 years when they have immersed themselves in a meaningful and rewarding career, or in 20 years when they continue to surround themselves with people of great character, many of them their classmates."
Once diplomas were handed out, the graduates proceeded to the lawn outside St. Ignatius Church for the traditional fight song and hat toss.
Earlier in the month, the Fr. Sauer Academy marked a historic commencement ceremony, as its Class of 2022 is the first in FSA's history to have every graduate accepted into SI's incoming frosh class.
In her remarks, FSA Principal Reese Bayze said, addressing the graduates and referencing President Teddy Roosevelt's "Citizenship in a Republic" speech, "You have proven to yourselves and to us that you can do hard things, as Mr. [Alexander] Eby always tells us, and that the credit belongs to the one who doesn't give up, who doesn't stand on the sidelines, the one who will triumph with high achievement."
This year's FSA valedictory address was delivered by Camila Angely Limo Fernandez ’26. She said, "When you leave here today, celebrate what you have accomplished, but also look forward and think of how you can be an inspiration to others. We are done with middle school and now we are moving on to high school. Each one of you will accomplish great things, and I wish you the best of luck."
Faculty member Calvin Nickelson followed with a speech recounting his personal experience as a teenager who initially felt out of place at his Connecticut boarding school, but who quickly thrived thanks to the support of friends and teachers who reinforced that he deserved to be there as much as anyone else. He said, "Hold on to the family you have made here, and add to it. Find people who remind you that you have the right to take advantage of the resources here, the right to take up space here. But actually, it goes further than that, because you not only have the right to be here, you have the responsibility to make this place better. You have the responsibility to share your gifts and your talents, your personalities, everything that makes you, you… Do your thing, do it well, and do it the way only you can."
Principal Bayze then presented two awards that were determined by the FSA Class of 2022, themselves: the Leadership Award to Zoe Love O'Neal ’26, and the Service Award to Xavier Anthony Ballard ’26. Finally, Principal Bayze presented FSA's Anthony P. Sauer, S.J., Excellence Award, which was determined by the FSA faculty and administration, to Yaslin Isabella Rodriguez ’26.