Hats off to the graduating class of 2019 at Xavier. Or, we should say, caps off. The caps went flying into the air in the courtyard Saturday after the ceremonies as the 173 grads celebrated their big day.
A blue sky, a bright sun and a brilliant class, which earned $6.5 million in scholarships.
The Most Reverend Michael Cote, Bishop of the Diocese of Norwich, told the class to be magnanimous, which is in the spirit of a Catholic education. He ended with, "Be good, do great things and God bless."
Headmaster Dave Eustis told the grads that this class made his second year at Xavier a special one. While acting thoughtfully and believing fearlessly, he told them to explore because anything is possible.
Among the highlights:
VALEDICTORIAN: Julen Lujambio, the son of Julio and Carolina of Wallingford. As the No. 1-ranked member of the Class of 2019 his accomplishments stand out: Brother Celestine Award winner; Eagle Scout; National Hispanic Scholar; Thomas Pierce Scholarship recipient; induction in the English, Math, Science, Spanish, Social Studies, and National Honor Societies; Harvard and Princeton Book Awards; AP Scholar with Distinction; National Merit Commended Student; as well as the Xavier English and Science Awards bestowed Saturday morning at graduation. As Brother Ryan, the Master of Ceremonies noted, "The letter A is the only one of the 26 of the alphabet that appears on his transcript. Julen has been competing in triathlons for years, and as such has been a valued members of Xavier's swimming, cross country, and outdoor track and field teams."
Said one teacher: "His daily schedule and the success that accompanies it can only be achieved through hours of time and physical energy that is unmatched. His passion for technology leads him to stay up with the latest trends and discoveries in the computer science world."
He will attend California Institute of Technology in the fall.
SALUTATORIAN: Pier Bos, the son of Adrian and Cynthia of West Hartford. He is a recipient of the Brother Celestine Award, the highest academic honor Xavier bestows; a National Merit Commended Student; and an AP Scholar with Distinction. He also earned the Seton/Yale Book Award and a Governor's Scholar Certificate. He is a member of seven Honor Societies (English, Spanish, Social Studies, Math, Science, Latin, and National Honor Societies, numerous clubs and the wrestling team.
Said one teacher: "He does not brag about his accomplishments and seems grounded in a way that many students his age are not."
He will attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in the fall.
FALCON ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Nicholas DeBrizzi, the son of Gary and Diane of Hamden. The Falcon Achievement Award recognizes a senior who has represented the very best that athletics stand for at Xavier. A two-sport athlete (basketball, baseball), he also is Brother Celestine Award winner, a member of five Honor Societies, and a Peer minister.
One of his coaches said, "He is a leader in every sense of the word, always striving to be his best, is encouraging and supportive of his teammates, and understands the true meaning of team."
He will attend Elon University in the fall.
LOYALTY AND SERVICE AWARD: Brendan Buckley, the son of John and Patricia of North Haven. The award is the most prestigious the school confers. It is presented to a member of the graduating class who is chosen based on the consistency and quality of the student's service to the Xavier community and the passion and perseverance he has displayed in his commitment to all aspects that make up the experience of a Xavier student.
Principal Brendan Donohue said, ""Whether in the classroom, the athletic arena, or the wider Xavier community, he has always had a keen sense of the greater good and has been able to align and often subjugate his personal goals with the needs of those around him. A strong student, a peer minister, a two-sport varsity athlete [hockey and lacrosse], his contributions are too numerous to list. Simply put by his guidance counselor, "He is a GEM!"
He will attend Union College in the fall. It also was noted that DeBrizzi and Buckley have been friends and classmates since kindergarten.
OTHER STUDENT AWARDS: The Xavier Religion Award was presented to Mitchell Macijauskas; The Xavier Brother John Collins Campus Ministry Award to Connor Dwyer; The Xavier French Award to Laurenz Mosquito; The Xavier Mathematics Award to Jingqing Hu; The Xavier Spanish Award and the Xavier Music Award to Benjamin Buzzeo; The Xavier Social Studies Award to Ian Gelberg; The Xavier Technology Award to Martin Wall; The Xavier Physical Education Award to Trevor Earley; and The Xavier Visual Arts Award to Dillon Selfors.
FATHERS AND SONS: Receiving medals from their sons, also graduates of Xavier, were the following:
Mr. Richard Anziano, Class of 1987, and his son Dominic.
Mr. Thomas Belzek, Class of 1987, and his son Jacob.
Mr. Gregory Bonaiuto, Class of 1984, and his son Alexander.
Mr. Kyle Carso, Class of 1987, and his son Nicholas.
Mr. Michael D'Aresta, Class of 1987, and his son Michael.
Mr. Sebastian Fazzino, Sr., Class of 1981, and his son Sebastian Jr.
Mr. Edmond Gioielli, Class of 1972, and his son Nicolas.
Mr. Giulio Giuffrida III, Class of 1983, and his son Giulio the IV.
Mr. Manuel Quintana, Class of 1984, and his son Francisco.
Mr. Brian Selfors, Class of 1983, and his son Dillon.
SPECIAL AWARDS: Tony Jaskot is retiring June 30 as athletic director. He has been a teacher, coach and AD for 45 years here, not to mention a student. In a recent Hartford Courant story on Jaskot, Headmaster Dave Eustis said: "Kind, caring, supportive, only wanted the best for our kids here. Never stood out in a crowd, a quiet servant-leader."
Linda Charpentier also is ending a 45-year stint here as a teacher. She "retired" last spring and was recognized at last year's commencement ceremony, but then her husband's retirement plan changed, so she stayed on this year to teach an AP science course as well as help Xavier in the NEASC reaccreditation process as a co-chair.