Pope Francis High School grads ready to soar

Story and photos by Carolee McGrath

SPRINGFIELD – Eighty-four graduates of the Pope Francis High School Class of 2018 threw their caps in the air outside of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Springfield, Friday evening, June 8, following the commencement exercises. The class is the second to graduate from the new Pope Francis High School in the Diocese of Springfield, since the merger of the former Cathedral High and Holyoke Catholic high schools.

Class valedictorian David Garib will be heading to Johns Hopkins University in the fall.

“I’m excited for the future,” said Gianna Branco, who will be heading to the University of Massachusetts in Lowell in the fall. Branco, who was involved in campus ministry, student council and drama club, said the graduates became a tight-knit group in the last two years.

“It was a little odd at first because we were two schools coming together. But after that, we formed together as one big family,” Branco said.

In his speech, valedictorian David Garib told his classmates, “Our Catholic education has instilled in us the gifts of the Holy Spirit.”

Garib, who played soccer and baseball, earned a 4.8 grade point average. He will be attending Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

“It’s just a blessing from God that I made it this far,” said Garib, who is active in youth ministry at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Springfield. “Ever since I was young, my parents instilled in me a faith in God, a love of God and to act as a child of God, loving everyone as myself.”

Brian Campbell, who helped the Pope Francis hockey team make it to the Super 8 championship at the Boston Garden in March, was the class salutatorian, with a 4.73 grade point average.

“We made school history in becoming the first team to make it to the Boston Garden,” said

Campbell also was on the student council. A member of St. Mary Parish in Westfield, Campbell will attend Providence College. He said he valued his Catholic education.

Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski presents Mary Theresa Kelleher with her diploma at Pope Francis High School’s commencement ceremony, Friday, June 8.

“Every day, we pray at Pope Francis High School. It’s a crucial part of who we are as a school,” he said.

Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski presented the students with their diplomas. He told them to always follow the example of their namesake, Pope Francis.

“In the spirit of the name of the high school, I think if we follow the example set for us by Pope Francis, our graduates will stay close to God,” Bishop Rozanski said. “Pope Francis is a man of prayer, a man of service, a man dedicated to the church. I pray for that for our high school graduates as they go off into different fields of work and college.”

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno was also in attendance and congratulated the students and thanked their parents for their unwavering commitment in supporting their children.

Pope Francis High School, which is currently located in Chicopee, will open at the new facility on Wendover Road in Springfield in August. The school name will be changed to Pope Francis Preparatory School.

For a video version of this story, tune in to an upcoming edition of “Real to Reel,” the Diocese of Springfield’s weekly television news magazine that airs Saturday evenings at 7 on WWLP-22NEWS.