Congratulations to the Graduating Class of 2021!
Posted on 05/28/2021
“Even during the darkest days of the pandemic, you brightened the school, and it was inspiring to watch you.” The words of Principal Harry Ziegler at St. Thomas Aquinas High School’s 49th annual commencement convey the sentiment of the members of the class of 2021 and their loved ones watching in person and at home. Their journey at STA has been filled with excitement, happiness, and accomplishment but also, due to the lockdown and subsequent restrictions, setbacks and disappointment and redefined their junior and senior years. But, as Valedictorian Alison Picerno noted in her speech to her classmates, “I want us to truly feel accomplished for graduating during one of the most difficult times in our country. Despite everything, we kept working. We found new ways to provide compassion, new ways to lend support, and new ways to socialize. Instead of being defined by challenges, we defined ourselves through the ways we began to heal.” The members of the Class of 2021 have risen to the extraordinary challenges and faced them headfirst, always looking ahead, and always trying to remain positive. For that they deserve celebration and praise.

The Baccalaureate Mass and Commencement Ceremony, held for the first time ever at the Church of the Sacred Heart in South Plainfield, marked the culmination of a four-year long journey that was interlaced with memories both big and small, unforgettable events, new friends, triumphs on the fields and stage, and an education that will form the groundwork for future greatness. The ceremonies were punctuated with the retelling of the stories and memories that were created by a group of once-strangers but who are now and will always be members of a family. Service trips to TASK, dancing to “September” at every dance, moments of inspiration in class, eating a Roche cookie for the first time, getting the dream role in a show, making varsity... The stories resonated with each member of the class in attendance. It is a bittersweet moment for the members of the class of 2021 but, as Salutatorian An Nguyen challenged his classmates, “Let us embrace the memories we’ve already made and appreciate what has always been in front of us.”

There were also the gentle reminders of the people who helped each member of the Class of 2021 get to where they are now: parents, relatives, teachers, guidance counselors, coaches, friends, and God. “We’ve learned an important lesson on where to find out strength. We find it in our family, we find it in our friends, we find it in ourselves, and we find it in our God,” reminded the Most Revered Bishop James F. Checchio of the Diocese of Metuchen. “Don’t be afraid to give yourselves fully to Him as you embark on this new chapter.”

With a turn of the tassel, the members of the St. Thomas Aquinas High School Class of 2021 go out into the world to love and to serve. As Director of Catholic Identity Father Keith Cervine challenged the graduates in his homily, “The things you’ve learned here at STA aren’t just meant for you but for the rest of the world.” 98% of them will go directly to one of 69 different universities in 20 different states while putting to use over $29 million in scholarships. Others will serve in the military or enter trade schools. All will begin with a “clean slate,” a reminder that President Sr. Donna Marie Trukowski would give at the beginning and end of each school year. They’ll begin anew, using the knowledge and skills that they’ve gained over these past four years to build a City of God.

Graduation Class of 2021