More than 3,600 friends and family members gathered at the UCI Bren Events Center on Friday, June 1, as Santa Margarita Catholic High School’s 449-member Class of 2018 received their diplomas during the school’s 28th commencement ceremony. The Most Rev. Timothy E. Freyer, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Orange, presided over the ceremony. Freyer was joined by Interim Superintendent Sally Todd of the Diocese of Orange, who reflected on the faith and spiritual development, academic excellence and character formation Santa Margarita provided.
“You are definitely not the person graduating today that you were when you walked onto the campus of Santa Margarita,” Todd said. “You have grown in learning, wisdom and faith – yes, but also as a result, integrity as a person.”
Principal Raymond Dunne and President Andy Sulick ’91 offered their personal reflections before Assistant Principals Sean Basford and John Hayek assisted Bishop Freyer with the conferral of diplomas.
Select members from the Class of 2018 joined school and diocesan leadership on the dais. Niko Mancera of Laguna Niguel brought chills to the crowd with his rendition of the national anthem; ASB President Garrett Domier of Coto de Caza led the traditional tassel ceremony; and Andy Concialdi of Trabuco Canyon was recognized as the school’s Caritas Award recipient, which is given to the student that best embodies the school charism of Caritas Christi, the love of Christ.
At the top of their class academically, valedictorian Rachel Kim of Laguna Niguel and salutatorian Nathaniel Torres addressed their classmates. Kim, an immigrant from Korea, will attend Stanford University while Torres of Rancho Santa Margarita plans to study at UCLA.
Kim shared with her classmates that she was confident they would go on to change the world in their own unique ways. Quoting Nelson Mandela she said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
She went on to say, “We’ve been incredibly blessed to receive an SM education … All 450 of us will have a positive impact on society in 450 or more different ways-- some of us want to be doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, actors, politicians, entrepreneurs, journalists, athletes, and for some of us, in this age of rapid technological change, our future jobs probably don’t even exist yet. And that is the most exciting part. The number of ways in which we can go out into the ‘real world’ and use our SM education to spread Caritas Christi, the love of Christ, is truly infinite.”
Sulick reflected upon his own experiences as an Eagle graduating in 1991, thanking his parents for giving him the gift of a Catholic education. He shared that this gift set the course for his life including meeting his future wife (his daughter, McKenna, was among the graduates).
“I owe so much of who I am to this school,” he said.
Sulick also thanked Annette and Charles Walker for entrusting their most precious gifts to Santa Margarita. Emily Walker received her diploma that morning becoming the youngest of six Walker children to graduate from SMCHS. The Walkers are among five families to have sent six children to SMCHS and hold the record for having the longest tenure as parents with their oldest enrolling in 1992.
Imparting sentiments that were shared when Sulick graduated from Santa Margarita, he shared: “Class of 2018, this is the last time you all will be together in the same room as the Class of 2018. . . . The SM experience will live on in your hearts and you will miss it.” The events center then filled with the tunes “You Are Going to Miss This” by Trace Adkins:
“You're gonna miss this
You're gonna want this back
You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you're gonna miss this”
Class of 2018 by the Numbers
$57.8 million in scholarship offers
2,375 college acceptances
$175,000 average combined scholarship offers per graduate
148 colleges graduates will attend
73% of the class received a scholarship offer
100% acceptance rate at 208 schools
99% percent attending college
60 student-athletes to compete at the collegiate level
44 students studying the arts in college
41 schools accepted to of U.S. News and World Report’s Top 50 National Best Colleges
18 CIF team championships (2014-2018)
To view a full list of college acceptances and matriculation, click here.
WALKER FAMILY LEGACY
The Walker family is among only three families to have sent six children to Santa Margarita Catholic High School.
Look for your summer edition of Wings magazine to read Mrs. Annette Walker's reflections on what inspired her and husband Chuck to commit to a Santa Margarita Catholic High School education for their children. As Annette poignently shared following Emily's recent graduation, "The Walkers may have left the building, but Santa Margarita will forever be in our hearts."