For the thirteenth consecutive year, every Cathedral High School senior graduated high school and is college-bound far outpacing national and local averages. The school hosted its 86th commencement exercises on May 14, 2016.
With the flip of tassels and the traditional mortarboard toss outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, the class of 2016 became the thirteenth consecutive year of Cathedral High School seniors to achieve both a 100% high school graduation rate and 100% acceptance to college.
Hundreds of parents, family members, and friends gathered at the Cathedral to witness the school’s 86th commencement exercises. Head of School, Dr. Oscar Santos, offered words of congratulations and inspiration to the graduates, also thanking and acknowledging the hard work by teachers and families of students which made it all possible.
“You are, by all measures, great successes,” Dr. Santos told the graduates. And by all measures, that holds true. The vast majority of Cathedral students hail from several of Boston’s inner city neighborhoods: Dorchester, Hyde Park, Roxbury, and Mattapan. Nearly all the students qualify for free or reduced-price federal lunch subsidies and 60% of all students are coming to Cathedral from a single parent household.
According to statistics from the National Center for Educational Statistics and the Pew Institute, the national averages for high school completion amongst black students was 86% in 2013; for Latino students it falls to 65%. And among low income families (making $50,000 or less a year) only 52% enter college. So the Cathedral class of 2016 (and the 12 graduating classes before them) have reached an impressive, if not mind-blowing, achievement level.
Where to next? The 47 new alumni managed to earn 278 acceptances to 100 different colleges and universities. Among the schools students have matriculated at are impressive local institutions including Boston College and Northeastern University as well as great schools farther afield including from College of the Holy Cross in Worcester to the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
The scholars’ connection with Cathedral doesn’t end here, however. CHS continues to provide guidance and mentorship to all of its graduates to ensure they have the tools, support, and information to successfully earn their degree. This extra layer of commitment to its graduates has already shown it works: 98% of the class of 2015 completed their freshman year of college; 93% of the ’14 grads just completed their sophomore year and overall 86 of the 90 combined students from those last two years remain enrolled in college.
Valedictorian Taylor Driscoll and Salutatorian Francis Lubega both acknowledged their teachers as a component of this success in their commencement speeches, and both also mentioned another common theme: Cathedral is more than a school to the students; “Cathedral is our home,” said the salutatorian in his closing remarks. “Just remember that Cathedral will always be…[in] our hearts,” added Driscoll ’16 just a few minutes later in her closing.
Among the impressive graduates of the class, several additional awards highlighted truly exemplary students. The valedictorian, Taylor Driscoll, was also recognized with the school’s highest award to a graduating senior: the Vigor in Arduis Award, named after the school’s (and school founder’s) Latin motto meaning strength in the face of adversity. Donnell Berryman received the Cathedral Spirit Award for exemplifying the Cathedral values; Douanna Offrey was presented the Service Award for her exceptional volunteerism — remarkable especially amongst a class where every student performs community service. Gabriel Richi was bestowed the CHS Covenant Award for his strong value on cultural diversity.
“We invest substantially in our students, through our student-centered and personalized approach to learning in and out of the classroom and through our philanthropy-based financial aid to every single student,” adds Dr. Santos. “I am incredibly proud of what our students, families, and faculty have achieved and continue to achieve together. Congratulations to the Class of 2016.”