SJR Graduates the Class of 2024

by Logan Dratch '26


The school year is quickly coming to an end, and the seniors have officially completed their four years at St. Joe’s during the long-awaited graduation weekend. 

The annual Senior Awards night was held on Thursday, during which several seniors were recognized for their excellence in academics, athletics, service, and performing arts. Most notably, Massimo Titolo was awarded as the SJR scholar of the year, Trey Nightingale was awarded the Athletic Director’s Award, while Liam Fahey received the John and Frances Job Performing Arts Scholarship. 


The annual Baccalaureate Mass was celebrated on the following evening. The Mass was led by Rev. Msgr. Joseph Chapel, and senior Jack Laux spoke about his community-service driven journey at SJR. Not only was this evening the final SJR Mass for the graduates, but it also gave them and their families time to reflect on the past four years and the relationship they formed with each other and with their peers. Lastly, it enabled them to keep God close by their side as they began the next stage of their lives.


On Saturday morning, the seniors finally received their diplomas, tossed their caps, and graduated from SJR after four years of hard work, studying, practicing, performing, and countless memories. Student Council President Thomas Brennan began the program with a prayer and invocation. Afterwards, the senior chorus members put on their final performance at St. Joe’s while singing the national anthem.

Then, the Salutatorian of the Class of 2024, Michael Kaminsky, delivered a profound speech to his peers. He acknowledged that this is their first graduation, since the pandemic canceled their middle school graduation. Kaminsky then recognized that although they started high school with an unprecedented challenge, they persevered and were able to accomplish several things, which they would have never expected when they first started their SJR careers. Kaminsky summarized his class’ experience with a quote of Amelia Earheart: “Every great achievement begins with a decision to try and a commitment to keep pushing until the goal is reached. He reflected on how they never experienced a dull moment because of the constant plays, sporting events, and other activities. Kaminsky concluded the speech by expressing his gratitude to be part of the Class of 2024, which has been characterized by brotherhood and camaraderie. 


After this impressive speech, Mr. Scott Donelly ‘02, the Director of Advancement, introduced alumni and lifelong SJR supporter, Mr. William Denin ‘75 . He was invited back to share a few words of wisdom to the graduating class before they start the next chapter of their lives. Throughout his several anecdotes and personal stories, he encouraged the seniors to prioritize faith, a positive attitude, discipline, and individuality. He also encouraged them to cherish the friendships they made at St. Joe’s, to stay true to themselves, embrace change and challenges, and remember the SJR values of empathy, compassion, charity, and service.

After this, Mr. Bruno awarded academic medals and scholarships to sixteen seniors who have exhibited some combination of leadership, perseverance, excellence in at least one subject or extracurricular, or were well-rounded and have demonstrated all of these traits. Then, Mr. Bruno presented the diplomas to the 84 seniors.


Afterwards, Massimo Titolo was announced as the valedictorian and was called up to the podium to give his speech. He first thanked everyone who made their SJR educations possible and helped them achieve their goals, and then recognized the important role faith has played in his high school journey. He explained that through all their ups and downs, triumphs and tribulations, they have always been able to lean back on their faith. Quoting Proverbs 19:21, he said, “Many are the plans of the human heart, but it is the decision of the Lord that endures.” He also reflected on the fact that they may not remember each individual test or assignment, but they will remember all the Saturday morning football games in the Knight Pit, the community service trips to Esopus, the Covenant House sleepouts, and the lively lunch conversations. He argued that out of everything at St. Joe's, it is truly the people that made the experience so great. 

Mr. Bruno then returned to the podium and thanked the teachers who helped foster the school’s great environment and education. He recognized those who have served SJR for 5 and 10 years, and Jan Czerepak, who has served for 20 years. Above all, he honored Deacon Joe Sisco, a cherished member of the SJR community who dedicated his life to service and embodied the principles of compassion, generosity, and selflessness.

Then, Mr. Bruno granted the St. Joseph Medal to Liam Fahey. This medal is granted annually to the student who best embodies the school’s principles of leadership, loyalty, scholarship, service, industry, and active catholicity. The decision was made by the entire faculty, and Fahey was their top choice because of his outstanding academic achievements, leadership in the performing arts department, and because of his enthusiasm for almost everything. 


Mr. Bruno ended the ceremony by recognizing the hard work of the Class of 2024 and the start of their bright future. He encouraged them to carry on everything they learned at SJR and to continue living by the example set by St. Joseph. Finally, the seniors were prompted to turn their tassels and tossed their caps, which is a symbol of their hard work, lifelong friendships, and readiness to begin the next chapters of their lives. Although the seniors have officially graduated, they will always be part of the SJR brotherhood.