St. Bernard Prep School in Cullman graduated twenty-three seniors on Sunday, May 23rd in an impressive ceremony conducted in the Abbey Church and under the direction of Fr. Joel Martin, Headmaster of the School. After welcoming members of the Board of Directors, the faculty, the staff and the invited guests, Fr. Joel noted that this year’s graduating seniors had the distinction of earning over $3.5 million dollars in scholarships and were accepted into 79 colleges and universities.
As part of the 111th commencement exercises, the St. Bernard Board of Directors recognized two alumni who received the “Distinguished Alumnus Award.” The Most Rev. Oscar H. Lipscomb, Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Mobile, and Lee J. Styslinger, Jr., founder of Altec, Inc., were inducted into the St. Bernard Distinguished Alumnus Class of 2010. Fr. Marcus Voss, President of St. Bernard Prep School, presided over this portion of the graduation ceremonies.
Archbishop Lipscomb was the main celebrant and homilist at the Baccalaureate Mass held earlier in the day. During his homily he reminded the graduates of the challenges they will meet especially as they learn to exercise their freedoms as young adults. Lee Styslinger delivered the Commencement address and emphasized the importance of the graduates staying connected to each other as they look to a future filled with opportunities.
After the commencement address, Fr. Joel announced this year’s graduation awards. Ana Kathleen Gauthier received the valedictorian award while Cathryn Marie Schartung was named salutatorian. In giving the general excellence medal, the highest award given to a graduating senior, Fr. Joel stated that “the criteria for this award requires that a student must be enrolled at St. Bernard Prep for the last two full years, be dedicated to academic excellence, exercise leadership and represent the values of the school.” The 2010 general excellence medal was presented to Elizabeth Ann Schweers.
Diplomas were presented to the graduating seniors by Abbot Cletus Meagher with Fr. Marcus Voss assisting him. After the awarding of the diplomas, Ana Kathleen Gauthier gave the valedictory address during which she highlighted the importance of the journey that will lead this year’s graduates to their life goals.
Fr. Joel Martin ended the ceremony calling attention to the role that challenges play in life. “We need challenges because we come alive in struggles,” he said. “We have high expectations for your future. You’re made for greatness. Go and take St. Bernard with you.”
Music for the graduation exercises was provided by Dr. Rebecca Whited, organist and director of choral music at St. Bernard, as well as the Alabama Pipes and Drums Corps. The Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree Honor Guard of the Fr. Leo Carter Assembly 2624 also participated in the ceremonies.
Following the prayer and dismissal by Abbot Cletus Meagher, a reception was held in the St. Bernard Dining Hall.