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Catholic high school graduates in Central Jersey receive more than $112 million in scholarships and awards

June 03, 2019

CENTRAL JERSEY – After years of hard work and perseverance, 558 graduates of the four Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Metuchen, who together amassed more than $112 million in scholarships and awards, reached the culmination of their high school education when they were presented their diplomas.

Seniors at Saint Joseph High School were the first graduating class in the diocese this year, marking the occasion on May 19 at the Church of the Sacred Heart, South Plainfield. Graduates of Immaculata High School received their diplomas, awards and honorable recognitions on May 31, followed a day later by graduates of Bishop George Ahr High School and Mount Saint Mary Academy, which held commencement exercises on June 1. 

Among the 180 graduating seniors at Bishop George Ahr High School, Edison, more than $35 million in scholarships and grants were awarded this year. Over the course of their four years, the Class of 2019 averaged nearly 188 hours of community service per student; and 98 percent of graduates will continue their studies at a college or university. 

The diocese’s co-educational college preparatory school was founded in 1969 and is administered by two Franciscan Felician Sisters with a dedicated team of lay administration, faculty and staff, and a diocesan priest, who serves as the full-time Director of Catholic Identity at the school.

Class valedictorian Isabella Adorable will pursue a degree in biochemistry on a pre-med track and is considering attending UCLA, NYU, Boston University or Boston College, while salutatorian Arnav Bhavsar will study mechanical engineering at the Honors College of Rutgers University - New Brunswick.

At Immaculata High School, Somerville, members of the Class of 2019 earned over $20 million in college scholarships. Over 12 percent of the 134 graduates are legacy students, who have a parent – and in one case, a late grandparent – who also attended the co-ed college preparatory high school currently staffed by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM). The school is also lead by a dedicated team of lay administration, faculty and staff, and a diocesan priest, who serves as the full-time Director of Catholic Identity.

Valedictorian Peter Gallo will pursue a degree in business intelligence and analytics at Saint Joseph University in Philadelphia, and salutatorian Kathleen Gorman plans to study history, Russian, and political science at Columbia University in New York City. 

At Saint Joseph High School, Metuchen, the 147 graduating seniors cumulatively received over $34.1 million in scholarships. The Class of 2019 had a 100 percent college acceptance rate; 83 percent of the graduating seniors received a college scholarship; and 75 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 Matthew Vergel will pursue a degree in biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and salutatorian Michael Botting plans to study general business at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

At Mount Saint Mary Academy, Watchung, a Catholic, private all-girls high school owned and operated by the Sisters of Mercy of the Mid-Atlantic, the 97 graduating seniors cumulatively received over $23 million in scholarships and grants; and 100 percent of the graduates will attend a college or university. 

Valedictorian Madeline Branthover will pursue a degree in chemistry at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., and salutatorian Hope Zamora plans to study psychology and linguistics at Northeastern University in Boston.

The graduating seniors who received the 2019 Bishop James F. Checchio Award for Religion are: Avery Murillo of Bishop George Ahr High School; Kathryn Hendrzak of Immaculata High School; Gabrielle Agugliaro of Mount Saint Mary Academy; and John Kasztelan of Saint Joseph High School.

Bishop Checchio, who participated in all four commencement ceremonies, said it is uplifting to visit the schools and to attend the high school graduations. 

Reflecting on his recent visit to Rome and his private audience with Pope Francis, Bishop Checchio relayed a message for the students from the Holy Father, “Tell them to be generous in giving themselves to Jesus. He wants to accompany you and strengthen you throughout your lives.”

Bishop Checchio echoed the Holy Father’s message and encouraged the graduates to commit to deepening their friendship with Jesus as they enter the next phase of their young adult lives.

“Young people today are faced with so many challenges and will continue to face obstacles in the years ahead,” said Bishop Checchio, “but it brings me hope to witness their enthusiasm and faith.” 

“If our young people continue to live their Christian lives to the full, they will bring that hope and light out into the world, turning away from the cynicism and darkness that is so perverse in today’s world,” Bishop Checchio said.

“I encourage them to share that hope and remember the words of St. Peter the Apostle, ‘Always be prepared to give a reason to anyone who asks you for the hope that you have’ (1Pt 3:15),” Bishop Checchio said. “If they grow in their relationship with Him, they will be filled with hope and every aspect of their lives will be transformed.”

Catholic schools in the Diocese of Metuchen are now enrolling students for fall 2019. For more information about enrolling your child or to find out how you can help support the privately-funded programs which provide tuition assistance to aid low-and moderate-income families within the diocese, please visit or call (732) 562-2446.

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