Welcome Address, Vinzenz Vingl Class of 2022
Good morning and welcome to the graduation of the class of 2022. I’d like to thank all our families, teachers, and fellow students for joining us as we take our first step into a bigger world.
We, as most of you know, are quite inseparable. This class has known each other for a number of years now and we can safely say that the bond we’ve formed is something truly unique. The fact that we began as freshmen four years ago seems outlandish to me, yet here we find ourselves at the finish line of our high school careers. After all this time we’ve spent together, there is no doubt each one of us has come a long way since then. The amount of growth I’ve seen in my class is nothing short of remarkable, and at 5’5”, I can confidently attest to that. To all the parents and teachers here with us today, do believe me when I say that you’ve nurtured academic excellence in us that is unlike any other. Even though I was not given the chance to be with you from the start, I am proud of who you all have become. Our friendship is something I will always cherish, and I can only hope that we continue to maintain it as we take our separate paths in life.
There will never be a day when we are not grateful to have received an education that enriches both mind and soul. “Educating the whole person, one student at a time” remains at the core of Mount Royal's mission and continues to be realized because we are blessed by all you exceptional teachers. Nobody else works harder to provide their students with a formative education, one that challenges and builds character through the various courses and curriculums we’ve had the pleasure of taking over the years. These are people who have dedicated their time, and plenty of patience, to develop us into who we are today and we owe you our utmost gratitude. For us to have been given the opportunity to learn at Mount Royal Academy is one we will never take for granted.
It is still surreal to think that our academic journey has now reached its culmination. Although the road ahead of us may look unfamiliar, we are not alone. Mount Royal Academy will continue to be a part of our identity and has instilled us with the ability to overcome any trials, no matter where we are in life. At least that is what I took away from one man, our very own Headmaster... Mr. Derek Tremblay.
Introduction of Mr. Michael Yost, Mr. Derek Tremblay Headmaster
Thank you, Vinny, for marking the occasion in such a splendid German style! I also want to take a moment to formally welcome Vinny’s grandparents who came here all the way from Germany to experience this moment. And I hope I am recalling this correctly, but as far as I remember, Vinny’s entrance into our school community originated from a referral by a bank employee whose children were here at the time. Vinny’s parents had just arrived in America and I surmise Mrs. Vingl was in Claremont and asked about the education in our area. Looking back at those circumstances, all I can think of is how God brings people into our lives in ways we never really appreciate as it is all happening.
The seniors selected Mr. Yost as their commencement speaker. It is most fitting for multiple reasons: he taught them more courses than any other teacher here. And honestly, everyone can tell that was the case! This didn’t occur to me until the Senior Thesis presentations on Thursday. Mr. Yost clearly made quite an impression on Caleb, Annie, Liam, Jesse, and Vinny. Their collective intellectual prowess is the fruit of Mr. Yost’s efforts.
As you can tell, my mind tends to gravitate to my earliest memories of a person coming into the school community. Mr. Yost was the one member of the Yost family who was absent from that first tour almost eight years ago – he was attending college at the time. Mrs. Yost brought all her children to see the school, because as I recall, they were thinking of moving to the area. I remember not knowing what would come of my first interactions with the Yost family, but who could have predicted it would lead to the current circumstances? An absolutely beautiful family leading us in the ways of beauty. Have any of us ever seen a teacher so committed to dressing well? When he compliments my attire, I know it means something! I would like to publicly acknowledge how grateful I am to Mr. Yost for his commitment to an impossible task. He never attempted to fill the shoes of his predecessor but in ways that may be too forward for me to say, I can see some of Dr. Kalpakgian in Mr. Yost. That is a compliment most of us teachers here would gladly receive. There is an evident devotion to the pursuit of truth that radiates from the charming disposition of Mr. Yost. We should all be happy and holy: this is what a life of continual encounters with the truth looks like in a person.
Keynote Address, Mr. Michael Yost Humanities Teacher
I would like first to thank the graduating class for inviting me to speak. It is truly an honor, and I am surpassingly glad to be able to perform one last service for these students before they formally end their careers at this Academy, and begin something else in another part of their lives. I have also been glad to preside, for a brief time, over some part of their education here. Four years is not a very long time, but it is long enough for us to have become acquainted with each other, and I, for one, have become only more and more happy in that acquaintance as time has passed.
Let me say something about that time; from where I am sitting, it was time well spent. There are many things that one can do in four years, and I would count the reading, contemplation, and friendly discussion of literature among the most delightful and fruitful options. I feel at times that these books have been their teachers, not me. I have simply provided them with a place and a time to come to know and discuss the works of men far greater than any of us. I can say with absolute sincerity that I have felt my soul growing as I have read these books in their company, and I have seen theirs do the same.
But we are all gathered together to recognise one thing above all: that time is past. Their education is not completed. It will not be completed until they step out from behind the darkened mirror of this life and look God, at last, in the face. But what, then, are we all here to do? What is it that is “commencing?” If we’re honest, we should realize that we are, somewhat arbitrarily, separating one piece of time from another. We’re marking this point in time so that we can all remember it and say: at that point, once upon a time, something had ended, and something else had begun.
Indeed, something else has commenced. But in reality what we’re doing today has its roots far off in the past, and is already moving faster than we can say into the future, to bear its fruit. So why are we making a mark in the sand if the tide is already washing it away? I would suggest that we are here to mark your passage so that you and I and everyone here all know for certain that it has occurred, even if we can not say when. We are making certain it has happened. And so, friends, families, and faculty of Mount Royal, I would like to thank you for helping us perform this ritual task. We are marking the fact that our education of these students is complete. We are marking their passage out of this Academy.
But we are doing something else as well, but before I describe what that something else is, I would like to pause, and to address the remainder of my remarks exclusively to the graduating class.
I have called this ceremony a marking of your “passage.” The term “passage” is a naval one, referring to a voyage or a journey aboard ship. I chose the term deliberately. We are here to help you on the next leg of a journey. In doing so, the old Roman greeting comes to mind: “Ave et Vale.” “Hail, and Farewell.” To say “Ave” or “Hail” is to recognize that someone is standing before you. To say “Vale” or “Farewell,” is to recognize that they will be gone in a moment; which is why you are greeting them in the first place.
If this commencement is the end of your voyage, then I am here, and all the members of this community are here, not only to mark your passage, but to burn your ships for you. There is no going back in this life. Your nature moves you through time and space, and every moment goes and is gone forever. We are here to recognize what you have been, and to show you what you will become. I say you have ended your voyage because you are about to leave the safety of the ship, and descend into the wilderness of enemy territory.
As you seek to infiltrate this territory, there are three major objectives that you must struggle to achieve: you must strive to perfect yourself according to your mortal nature, and you must strive to be perfected according to your divine nature in God.
First: Practice the Four Cardinal Virtues: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance. Remember that you will see Paradise with no other eyes than the eyes you have now, you will experience the immediate presence of the divine being with no other soul, hear the music of heaven with no other ear, and eat the fruit of the tree of life with no other mouth, and will live in God with no other body than the one you have now. Remember what Plato said: Time is a moving image of eternity. By God’s grace, the sum of what you are here will reverberate like a shout throughout the halls of eternity. Therefore, strive for the purity of temperance, as Socrates. Do not think that pleasure or baseness is worth sacrificing the high dignity of your nature, and that Injustice is a disease which your soul can long withstand. Remember Aeneas’ long journey to fulfill the commands of his gods, and be just. Remember the Prudence and Fortitude with which Odysseus found his way home to his kingdom at last, and work hard to expel all injustice from your natural temple.
Second: Practice the three Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. Charity comprises the first and second of God’s commandments: to love God, and therefore to love everything else. This is the greatest gift of God. But in order to keep charity, you will need to preserve hope in your redemption, and for that you will need faith. Remember in the midst of life, that your redeemer lives.
Third, and last: Seek Wisdom. Aristotle said this of Wisdom: “all men think that wisdom deals with the primary causes and principles of things.” Later, he continues: “that science is highest and superior which knows the reason why every single thing must be done. . .” which is why “a wise man must not be directed, but direct.” C.S. Lewis, said the same thing in a different way: ““Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth 'thrown in': aim at Earth and you will get neither.” Strive to perfect your Faith, to always remember the Hope of God, and keep yourself always in Charity towards God, your Neighbor, God’s Providence, and yourself. Seek to know the existence of God in creation, in your own nature. Seek Wisdom.
I would, beyond all these considerations, give you one final charge: remember that God has called us all to know him as rational beings. This means that we are all, as Socrates was, philosophers, or ought to be. Remember now that Socrates said the work of philosophy to be nothing more or less than preparation for death. Death is the final passage through which every man, even the God-Man has passed. You will as well. In order to be a true philosopher, ask yourself this question every day: have I acted in accordance with the laws of nature and reason? Have I acted in accordance with the law revealed by God? Have I prepared my form, my immortal soul for that eternal realm where no disorder can survive? Or have I created disorder in myself and made my soul unfit to make the voyage of death?
When Satan, the Liar, and Enemy of mankind sees that you have burnt the ships that brought you to this shore, and that you intend nothing more than to fight until you have conquered or fallen in the attempt, then he will fight harder against you. And you will not succeed without the help of God, who works through his mystical body, the church, through the substance of your own rational and animal nature, which is also his body in baptism, and the nature of the world, which is his body in the Logos of creation, to direct you towards the goods he has made for you, and the good which he is himself.
God bless you, and good luck.
Student Address, Liam Ouellette Class of 2022
So I found out on Thursday at the senior dinner that Mr. Tremblay says I talk a lot, and so, if someone could do me a big favor and start a timer on their phone, and if, Mr. Tremblay, if you could just raise your hand when you regret giving me the ability to speak that’d be good. I’m trying to do that as fast as possible. So, speaking of the senior dinner I wanted to start with a story from the senior dinner. My dad got up here and humiliated me and told everyone that when my parents ask me to do something I’ve recently been saying ‘maybe’ apparently. And so, these past 36 hours or so I’ve really grown in gratitude to my parents because when I’ve been asking them favors they’ve been saying ‘maybe’. So if we could give all the parents of all our graduates a huge round of applause because you guys are awesome.”
Good morning everyone. Today is a great day you guys are all attending the most attractive graduating class of 2022. In all the nation. It’s been a very tough four years. With COVID, online schooling and testing, all the stress caused by school and extracurriculars, and as if all that wasn’t enough, junior year, we had Mr. Dow’s study hall first block. That was tough. But we’re here. We did it. After all the long nights of studying and cramming, The countless hours spent on sports and extra curriculars, and the tears spent on trying to construct a confidence interval, we made it through. High school’s over, but there’s lessons that we have to take with us and today I want to share what I’ve learned from this school community, The faculty but most importantly the students. Four years ago, my freshman year, I wanted to find out what was special about this school, mostly because I wanted to speak at graduation. What I found first was kind of weird, some of you wouldn’t expect me to find this first but it has been the most impactful in my life and that was the amount of hope that you see in the hallways of this school. We have a bad, terrible problem in the culture today especially among our age level (high schoolers). A lot of people would refer to it as a mental health problem but I would say it’s caused by hopelessness. The average high school student is loosing sight of what’s good in their life and what’s valuable, not only in their own lives but life in general. And we’ve seen around the country the terrible impact that can have, when high schoolers loose sight of what’s good. We’ve seen how one action can turn a personal problem into a societal problem. But today I want to say that I think it’s important to look at it from the opposite perspective. We should turn this societal problem into a personal problem and this is what I’ve seen at the school especially. Every day, we have a personal responsibility for the wellbeing of our peers, the people around us, coworkers, students, even our higher-ups at times. I think it’s important to be a source of love in this world, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this school it’s that love is the #1 enemy of hopelessness. We’re all called to be a source of love, and I encourage everyone to be like the students I’ve encountered in these past four years, be a source of love, be like the faculty who taught me that the good is so much better than evil, and have shielded me from the hopelessness that the world tempts you with. So, congratulations to my classmates, thank you to the faculty, and I want to send a special thank you to my family who came today and all my friends and family who supported me along the way, I love you all. Stay classy western New Hampshire.
Student Address, Caleb North Class of 2022
Wow, this is truly surreal.
I remember thinking on the last day of 6th-grade how far away my high school graduation would be. Six years in elementary school felt like an eternity, and I had to do it all over again in order to receive my diploma. But, here I am with twelve years of schooling under my belt, standing before the people I’ve come to know and love.
Three schools, two houses, and an infinite amount of homework assignments, but I finally made it. WE finally made it.
I came to Mount Royal in 4th grade. When my family toured the school, my parents were blown away by how respectful the students were. They held open the doors and greeted us with a warm smile. The classes were interactive, and the teachers engaged with every student to the fullest extent. Despite the friendly nature of the school, I was so nervous about joining a class of existing friends and finding my way into the solidified groups.
However, to my surprise, I was quickly embraced by my new classmates and teachers. Annie and Liam had already been attending Mount Royal for a few years, and together they helped me settle into this new chapter of my life. Soon enough, I realized that there were no divisions among the students. Everyone was friends; I just happened to be the newest member.
As time passed, we picked up some new editions. Jesse came in sixth grade and Vinny in seventh. But, After our eighth-grade year, the numbers slowly dwindled. Year after year, classmates said their goodbyes and joined other schools. This was difficult for us at first. Our big group of close friends seemed to be shrinking without end.
At the time, we didn’t realize that this was a blessing in disguise. Instead of being a small, broken, pathetic class, we were left with a core group of five. Five students who quickly transformed from friends to family.
Now, I want to talk a little bit about “family” because I believe that family is not only the theme of today's graduating class but also the theme of Mount Royal as a whole.
Mount Royal is not an ordinary place of education. The campus is green and well taken care of, our classes are rooted in truth, and the buildings surround our nation's flag. This directly contrasts the brick square structures of nearby schools with their cold hallways and the sterile, disenchanting curriculum. This place feels like home.
But what stands out the most is the familial and loving environment that encompasses our home away from home. The students in this school are like siblings. We share good times and bad while connecting emotionally and spiritually. The teachers give a firm education by intertwining the truths of man with the Truth of God’s word. They support the success of their students and assist them when they’ve fallen, as any good parent would do. Together, connected by God the Father, the members of Mount Royal Academy form an unbreakable bond.
Some of my favorite memories come from when this bond is displayed. The annual swing dance highlights how comfortable the students are with each other. Everybody is included, and nobody is left out of the fun or discouraged. Field day, when students and teachers come together to playfully compete in various games. Or even the weekly mass that joins us all in a mode of divine worship. I am forever grateful for these lasting memories.
Before I step away from the podium, I want to offer a few words of advice to my fellow seniors, the 8th-grade graduates, and the rest of the underclassmen who will soon assume our position.
Today marks our final day as a student at Mount Royal Academy. Through the aid of our education, we have learned to stand on our own two feet. But, for the first time in our lives, we have to learn to walk on our own. There's no more hand-holding, no more training wheels, and no more excuses.
Instead of fearing this moment, I want you to take it with maturity and patience. Our goals are set out in front of us, and it's our job to reach them, no matter how distant and unachievable they seem. Look out into the abyss, visualize your success, and take your first step. When you feel comfortable enough to continue, take another. Soon enough, the steps will become rhythmic and continuous. Look back at any time, and you’ll see how distant the person you used to be has become. Let your progress encourage the rest of the journey, and you’ll be sure to succeed.
I want to thank my parents for allowing me to attend Mount Royal Academy, my peers for maintaining a sibling-like bond throughout the years, the teachers for playing a parental role when away from home, and most importantly, our Father God and His divine will that has made it possible for us to be gathered today and for the rest of time.
I love you all.
Semper Altius Award, Derek Tremblay Headmaster
The highest honor given to a graduating senior is the Semper Altius award. I often forget to describe the award because this is intimidating to me, but thankfully I remembered this year!
One graduating student who has been the model of a Mount Royal Academy student over the years he/she attended the High School. This student has modeled the life of Our Lady, Mary, in humility and love of God. He/she has been a person of virtue in his/her studies and in his/her personal life.
“Always higher” in Latin.
And like I said in previous years, this award really goes to the student and the parents.
So my first words will be to Mr. and Mrs. Vingl: And all I can say is thank you for gifting us with such a fantastic young man! It is perhaps too simple to think of it this way, but Vinny just dropped out of the sky on us. And like most good gifts – the kind that we really appreciate – I don’t know what we did to deserve Vinny. There is nothing we could do to have earned this man’s presence over all these years. I honestly thought Vinny was leaving at some point – maybe because like most of you all know, this class had that problem – and his fidelity to this school community has been so inspirational. Vinny is a student but more so a teacher in my mind. What we learned from Vinny is what I am sure Vinny learned from his parents.
What is the greatest lesson Vinny taught us? There is something to be said for just showing up every day. There is something radical about the nature of Vinny’s commitment. Our world isn’t that way anymore. It is almost like Vinny was born in the 1920’s for goodness sakes. Vinny came to school yesterday and he didn’t even have any classes: he was done on Thursday. What? I had a tip he was coming from a trusted source, and we waited to start lauds. I went and looked in the parking lot at 8:01am, and there was his car. He came walking in with the biggest smile on his face and that is a memory none of us will be able to ever forget.
And when Vinny showed up, he showed up in every way possible. His effort never relented. His focus never wavered.
I think Vinny is much like Virgil, that earliest truth-seeker in our tradition. We simply can’t give up on seeking truth.
What is the natural response to someone who just does what they are supposed to do daily? They gain our trust. That is what being a person of integrity effects: it activates trust.
Truth is sought. Trust is gained. What results? True love. I know Father Michael mentioned last night how we love imperfectly, yes, but we were made to love in the way God loves us. With agape love: unrelenting, unconditional, sacrificial love. Mr. Klucinec wowed us all on Thursday at the Senior Dinner when he brought a props – copper coins. And if I heard him correctly, he intended to suggest that copper has transformational elements. True love is what results when we allow God to transform our daily efforts to trust that His truth is better than our truth.
Thank you for being a testament to this Vinny! And thank you again to Mr. and Mrs. Vingl for sharing Vinny with our school community!
Closing Remarks, Derek Tremblay Headmaster
I am going to make a confession. I don’t write these words until the Saturday of commencement. I try to hear what others are saying in the days leading up to this and bring to prayer the lived experiences of others. I did – long ago – make one decision as to how I would give you seniors one final lesson. That decision was that I wanted you to hear from the thinker who inspired me the most, and that is Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
These words from the then Joseph Ratzinger I think aptly summarize much of our reflections over these final days. They come from a text called Values in a Time of Upheaval, wherein Ratzinger passionately defends the role traditional Judeo-Christian values should play in a pluralistic society and multicultural world. True to Ratzinger form, he proposes a balance of faith and reason that avoids extremes of fundamentalist theocracies and secular, relativist states.
“We are left with our starting question: Is truth – at least, in the way the faith of the Church presents it to us – too lofty and difficult for human beings? After all, our reflections, we can say that the steep path to truth, to the good, is not easy. It makes great demands of man. But remaining comfortably at home will not redeem us. That leads only to atrophy and the loss of our own selves. If we set out on the mountainous path to the good, we will discover more and more the beauty that lies in the efforts demanded by truth, and we will grasp that it is this that redeems us…
This is the real novelty of Christianity: the Logos, the Truth in person, is also this expiation, the transforming forgiveness that transcends all our own abilities and inabilities…
The yoke of truth became “light” when the Truth in person came, loved us, and burned up our guilt in his own love. It is only when we know and experience this from within that we become free to hear the message of conscience with joy – and without fear.”
Recall the words of Jesus in this regard, Truth incarnate inviting us into this quest:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
Is it hard, to seek and live the truth? Yes
How does it get easier to bear this yoke of truth? Freed from the weight of our own imperfection on the inside, we are open to the joy that comes from doing what is right and doing what it right in all things and at all times.
We love you. We are always here for you. We will always pray for you.