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Catholic high school graduates in Central Jersey receive $92.5 million in scholarships, awards

June 13, 2017

CENTRAL JERSEY – Crowds gathered, clapped and cheered during recent commencement ceremonies where Bishop James F. Checchio awarded diplomas to 569 graduating seniors of the four Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Metuchen, who together amassed more than $92.5 million in scholarships and awards.

Seniors at Saint Joseph High School were the first graduating class in the diocese this year, marking the occasion on May 21 at Sacred Heart Church, South Plainfield. On June 3, graduates of Bishop George Ahr High School, Immaculata High School and Mount Saint Mary Academy received their diplomas, awards and honorable recognitions in consecutive events held the same day.

Among the 209 graduating seniors at Bishop George Ahr High School, Edison, more than $38 million in scholarships and grants were awarded this year, which is $10 million more than last year’s total. Statistically, 20 percent of the Class of 2017 will be attending a Catholic college or university and 30 percent will be majoring in a STEM-related subject.

The diocese’s co-educational college preparatory school was founded in 1969 and is staffed by the Franciscan Felician Sisters. The school community is preparing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its founding.

Class valedictorian Kevin Howarth will pursue a degree in mechanical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York State, while salutatorian Kaitlin Fermalino will study civil engineering at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

At Immaculata High School, Somerville, members of the Class of 2017 earned over $14.4 million in college scholarships. Its 129 graduates were accepted to many prestigious colleges and universities, achieved major milestones in athletics and music, and set new standards for service through Campus Ministry. The co-ed college preparatory high school is staffed by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM). 

Valedictorian David Hoffman plans to study astrophysics and play football at Princeton University, and salutatorian Samantha Fama will attend Binghamton University in New York State, where she plans to study accounting and play lacrosse.

At Saint Joseph High School, Metuchen, the Class of 2017 received over $23 million in scholarships among 146 graduating seniors; 71 percent of the graduates received scholarships in excess of the four-year cost of attending the private Catholic all-boys college preparatory school run by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart.

Valedictorian Gil Gerard Austria will pursue his studies at Stevens Institute of Technology, and salutatorian Scott Aravena will attend Princeton University.

At Mount Saint Mary Academy, Watchung, over $17.1 million in scholarships and grants were awarded among 85 graduates of the Catholic, private all-girls high school owned and operated by the Sisters of Mercy of the Mid-Atlantic. Many of them received full college scholarships, including one, for the first time, for golf.

Valedictorian Jacqueline McNulla plans to attend the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., and salutatorian Trisha Parayil plans to study neuroscience and public health at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.

The graduating seniors who received the 2017 Bishop James F. Checchio Award for Religion are: Fernando Sullivan of Bishop George Ahr High School; Ann Mary Brunn of Immaculata High School; Michelle Ferrer of Mount Saint Mary Academy; and Samuel Gillespie of Saint Joseph High School.

Bishop Checchio, who was ordained last year on May 3, was grateful to be able to participate in all four commencement ceremonies this year and to extend his personal congratulations to each high school graduate who accepted a diploma.

“After being among these outstanding graduates – listening to their speeches, learning of their awards, and praying with them – I feel that these young men and women are well prepared for the next chapter in their lives,” the bishop said.

“During the past four years, they have been able to take a wide range of courses to prepare them academically for the rigors of college courses and have taken advantage of countless opportunities to develop and nurture their faith lives, deepening their friendship with Christ.”

“In the Diocese of Metuchen,” said Bishop Checchio, “our Catholic high schools truly bring to life the words Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was referring to when he said, ‘A good school provides a rounded education for the whole person. And a good Catholic school should help all its students to become saints.’”

To learn more about Catholic schools in the Diocese of Metuchen, visit diometuchen.org/schools, follow us on Facebook (DioceseofMetuchen) and on Twitter (@diocesemetuchen).

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