Three Lasallian Challenges

(Student Address at the Commencement Exercises for La Salle Academy on Thursday evening, 6 June 2019)


I want to begin by saying a few words of thanks. First, I would like to thank our parents for the immeasurable sacrifice they have made over the past four years to send us to La Salle Academy. I want to say thank you to administrators, teachers, coaches, directors, Campus Ministers, and club moderators for shaping us into the people we are today. Most importantly, I would like to thank Ms. Doyle for being a role model and for guiding us through these past four years as our dean. Outside of telling us to tuck in our shirts every day, she has been somebody we could turn to when we needed a shoulder to lean on. Each one of you has made it possible for us to be here tonight.

In 2014, Admiral William H. McRaven gave the commencement speech at the University of Texas. In this memorable graduation speech, which most of us watched in Service Class, Admiral McRaven gave ten life lessons to the graduating students. I hope to give some of these same life lessons but with a Lasallian twist.

Admiral McRaven’s first life lesson is: “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.” I don’t think the Admiral would be too happy to hear that, most likely, about 330 of us woke up ten minutes before we left home each morning while barely having enough time to eat breakfast. Many of us never made it to school in time to find a “real” parking spot and some of us even had our license plates called over the PA, requiring us to see Ms. Doyle in Student Life. So, maybe we didn’t change the world by making our bed, but we did start each day with a prayer. Even more, we started each class with a prayer. No matter how good or bad our day was, we always had our faith to turn to and that faith pushed us to change the world. We did this by helping hundreds of thousands of people through donations, dress down days, mission trips, and Christian Service on Wednesdays. Saint John Baptist de La Salle began the Brothers of the Christian Schools in 1680. He dedicated his life to the Christian education of children with a special emphasis on helping the poor. Today, 300 years after his death, his mission is thriving in the Lasallian community and at 612 Academy Ave.  So, we will change the world by relying on our faith and our Lasallian family, even though we may not have made our beds.

Admiral McRaven’s next life lesson is: “If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.” The first thing I thought when I heard this lesson was the legendary white water rafting story that Mr. Kavanagh told our class at the start of each year. Helping us paddle through high school on our “white water raft,” we’ve had help from Ms. Doyle, the guidance office, Campus Ministers, teachers, and our friends. Our friends have helped us win state championships, they’ve given us a hug after a big theater performance, and they’ve held our hands as the Beehive stormed Cimini Stadium. It isn’t always easy with a group of friends and we’ve certainly had our disagreements, which sometimes could be heard in the cafeteria. But, in the end, these are the people who have supported and helped us for four years. So, we will change the world by having these people to help us paddle our raft.

 Another lesson from Admiral McRaven is, “If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not by the size of their flippers.” If we have learned one thing at La Salle, it has been not to judge someone until we know their full story. La Salle has taught us to look beyond our uniforms and to find the Lasallians underneath. It is this Lasallian spirit that can be found in every corner of every hallway of every building that has helped shape our hearts while at La Salle. Our Best Buddies Club has hosted four Best Buddy Weeks, where we have taken the pledge to “spread the word to end the word.” We have worked to help end poverty in our own backyard during Poverty Week. We have attempted to end the stigma surrounding mental health during our first Mental Health Awareness Week. During our time at La Salle, we have attempted to understand our friends, our classmates, and the people around us. So, we will change the world by measuring people by their hearts, not by who they appear to be.

It is surreal to think that, four years ago, we walked into La Salle for the first time, not knowing what to expect. As little Freshmen, we met our best friends for the first time and listened to Ms. Doyle tell us that before we knew it, we would be seniors. I am sure that we won’t be sad to leave behind the 6:30 a.m. wake ups, the very late nights finishing projects, or the stress of finding parking spots, but we are going to miss the humorous lunch conversations, playing games in Campus Ministry during our free periods, being in the locker room before a big game, or hanging out backstage during a theater production. We are going to miss sprinting into Clash of the Classes, getting ready at a friend’s house before Harvest Ball, and going to tailgates before football games. Most importantly, we are going to miss this community. We are going to miss the feeling of being a part of something bigger than ourselves.

There is a quote from a TV show that reads,  “It’s the oldest story in the world. One day you’re seventeen and planning for someday. And then quietly and without you ever really noticing, someday is today. And that someday is yesterday. And this is your life.” Since we were Freshmen, we have been planning for and counting down to this moment. Now, here we are, and we are already planning for the coming years. The future holds some of our biggest challenges yet. With everything La Salle has taught us, starting the day with our faith, having a couple of friends to help us paddle along, and loving people for the size of their hearts, I am confident we can face these challenges. So, to the Class of 2019, I want to say thank you for the best four years of my life. It has been an unreal experience.

Roll Rams.

Catherine M. Medeiros–Alumna (Class of 2019)

Our Lasallian Time Capsule

(Student Welcome Address at the Commencement Exercises for La Salle Academy on Thursday evening, 6 June 2019)


I am honored to welcome you to La Salle Academy’s 148th graduation ceremony. Benjamin Disraeli said, “Time is precious, but truth is more precious than time.”  As we are now in our final moments as students of La Salle Academy, time is truly precious.  It feels like yesterday we were all nervously walking into orientation, unsure about what our La Salle experience would be like. Four years of making the halls of La Salle our home have quickly gone by.  This year, we celebrate the 300th anniversary of the death of our founder, St. John Baptist de La Salle, and we are quickly approaching the 150th anniversary of La Salle Academy, Providence. Now, we truly become part of this bigger legacy, one that has spanned great lengths of precious time.

So now, we must ask ourselves: what is our contribution to this legacy?  If we wanted to capture this class, to make a time capsule, what would we want to fill it with?  What would tell our piece of the story?

We would fill it with our academic successes. Not just our report cards and SAT scores, but with the knowledge we have gained from our teachers, the curiosity to explore the world around us, and a passion to be lifelong learners.  The Class of 2019 is off to universities, colleges, and careers across the country in every discipline imaginable.

We would want to put in our time capsule our artistic abilities, the paintings and performances, the videos and concerts; a record of our talented artists who saw beauty in the world and shared it with us in artistic expression.

Into the time capsule would go our athletic victories, the trophies and rings, but, more importantly, the values we learned here.  On the fields and courts, running on tracks and skating on the ice, we have made La Salle proud of our sense of fair play, the perseverance we have demonstrated, and the relationships we have formed with our teammates.

We would want our time capsule to hold our contribution to the Lasallian mission.  When others look back, they will see that we did the good work as people of faith in Christian Service,  service learning trips, and through the kindness we showed one another. We served the poor and the marginalized, sought social justice, and showed our love for God by loving each other.

We would stuff the time capsule with memories of friends, tailgates before football games, school Masses, and the musical, Oklahoma. It would burst open with the friendly faces from homeroom and our lunch table and glow with the kindness and guidance of our teachers, Campus Ministers, and the endless support of our parents.  It would show the care and effort of our Dean, Ms. Doyle, for the countless hours she has devoted to our class and constant concern she has shown each one of us. But, unlike other time capsules, while we do gift it to the legacy that is La Salle, we don’t just leave it behind. We take it with us in our hearts wherever our roads lead in our future. We do not bury these achievements underground but continue to breathe fuller life into them as we, with the help of God, share them in the communities we enter in the future. Whether we are working, pursuing a degree in college, or serving our community, these pieces of our Lasallian time capsule will always be with us.

Time is precious, but the truth is more precious than time.  And the truth is that, from the outside, our time capsule may appear similar to that of the many classes that have come before us, but our unique talents and memories have overflowed the inside of our time capsule.  The truth of this class is that we have upheld and made proud the tradition of La Salle Academy. The truth is that we have enhanced its history and culture through our participation in it and that only time will further tell what we will contribute in the years to come.  While we proudly join the thousands and thousands of alumni that have enjoyed the fulfillment of graduating La Salle Academy, the truth is that today is for us, the Class of 2019.


Austin G. Marinosci–Alumnus (Class of 2019)